The mission of Texas Right to Life seeks to articulate and protect the Right to Life of defenseless human beings, born and unborn, through legal, peaceful, and prayerful means. This commitment is derived from a belief that each human being, from the moment of fertilization until natural death, has an immeasurable dignity and an inalienable Right to Life.
Why then, does Texas Right to Life involve ourselves in issues of free speech, election law, and campaign finance battles? Over the last several years, Texas Right to Life has increasingly felt the growing fist of state government clenching on grassroots activists, organizations, and donors in efforts to thwart effective advocacy at the Legislature and the ballot box.
Without the ability of our members to associate freely with each other through Texas Right to Life, and without the ability of Texas Right to Life to communicate freely with the public regarding Life issues within our great state, our mission cannot be achieved.
This is why Texas Right to Life has joined the growing chorus of statewide organizations, such as Empower Texans and the Texas Home School Coalition, calling for substantial reform or abolishment of the Orwellian-named Texas Ethics Commission.
What is the Texas Ethics Commission? Envision this commission as the state version of the Internal Revenue Service. The Commission has evolved; the initial and primary function was the setting of the legislative per diem for elected officials. Today the commission focuses on governing how, when, and with whom average citizens may comment on salient issues of our day and how citizens can support political candidates of their choice seeking public opinion. In recent years, arbitrary rules (which have the force of law) have been created to “deal” with specific personalities in Texas politics at odds with a liberal agenda; as if designing rules specific to political opponents isn’t bad enough, those same rules encompass active, attentive Texans along the way.
As grassroots organizations expand across Texas, successfully revealing to voters exactly what does or does not occur in the dark recesses of the Capitol, there are those in power who wish to curb such influence. There are already roughly forty-seven bills filed addressing the Texas Ethics Commission in some way – some measures are good, yet some measures are dangerous for engaged Texans.
The House Committee on General Investigating and Ethics, chaired by liberal anti-Life Republican Sarah Davis of Harris County, will likely see most, if not all, legislation related to the Texas Ethics Commission. Six out of the seven committee members voted during the 84th Session of the Texas Legislature, through a revised version of Senate Bill 19, to require compelled disclosure to the government the identities of citizens who contribute to social welfare organizations, commonly known as 501(c)4 organizations. The seventh member of the General Investigating and Ethics Committee, Representative Hugh Shine, was not serving in the Texas House of Representatives during the 84th Session. As witnessed in other parts of the nation (think Wisconsin and Governor Scott Walker’s recall election), compelled disclosure almost always results in intimidation when the governing power does not favor your message.
Although similar measures could also find their home in the House Committee on State Affairs, such a destination would still be troubling to activists across the state; the House Committee on State Affairs is chaired by chief proponent Byron Cook (R-Corsicana), who himself authored bills and amendments attacking involved grassroots organizations like Texas Right to Life.
The Texas Right to Life legislative team is closely watching all related measures, and we’ll keep you updated when your rights are in jeopardy.