We Lobby the Texas House for Clean Elections

Three of us testified before a joint hearing of the Texas House Elections and Civil Jurisprudence committees on Thursday, August 26th.  The session was dedicated to the effect of Caperton v Massey on Texas judicial campaign law.  This case involves recusal rules for judges who hear cases involving campaign contributors, but we advocated for citizen funded elections as a way to minimize the need for recusals.  The nightmare scenario is a case in which one or both parties have contributed to most or all of the Justices’ campaigns and they all have to recuse themselves.

Diane Owens and Joanne and Ham Richards testified as members of the Coffee Party. They coordinated their testimony to cover the following:

  1. Diane Owens –  Surveyed existing state laws providing for citizen-funded judicial elections (NC, NM, WV & Wisconsin)
  2. Joanne Richards – Explained how citizen funded elections might be used in Texas State Appellate and Supreme Court races.
  3. Ham Richards – Summarized polls showing strong public belief that campaign donations to judicial candidates affect the outcome of decisions.

For background on the Caperton v. Massey case, see the Brennan Center’s summary and Selected Press and Commentary.

About Hamilton Richards

He retired in 2006 as a Senior Lecturer in Computer Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. These days he volunteers technical support for Citizens' Climate Lobby (Austin chapter), Common Ground for Texans, (CG4Tx.org), Integrity Texas (IntegrityTexas.org), Austin Rowing Club, and several friends.
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