The Martinez de Vara Law Firm has secured a major victory for election integrity and transparency after the Texas Court of Appeals for the Thirteenth District (Corpus Christi) issued an opinion in favor of our client and a Texas law aimed at transparency in our elections. The case Gonzalez v. Graham, No. 13-23-00091-CV (Tex. App. Jan. 18, 2024) was originally heard in the 107th District Court of Cameron County.
The law in question, Texas Election Code 253.131 creates civil liability when candidates fail to appoint a campaign treasurer and/or reports at specified intervals during an election cycle. Campaign finance laws require candidates to appoint a campaign treasurer and disclose contributions received, expenditures made, and other financial details crucial for transparency. Failure to appoint a campaign treasurer opens the door for legal consequences, including the ability of opposing candidates to take legal action against the offending candidate for “twice the value of the unlawful contribution or expenditure” and “reasonable attorney’s fees incurred in the suit.”
Key Provisions of Texas Election Code 253.131:
- Mandatory Reporting: Section 253.131 establishes civil liability against candidates and political committees that fail to appoint campaign treasurer’s and/or report at specified intervals during an election cycle. These reports disclose contributions received, expenditures made, and other financial details crucial for transparency.
- Legal Consequences: Candidates who fail to fulfill their appointment and reporting obligations under this statute may face legal repercussions. Opposing candidates can leverage this provision to initiate legal proceedings against their non-compliant counterparts for “twice the value of the unlawful contribution or expenditure” and “reasonable attorney’s fees incurred in the suit.”
- Ensuring Transparency: The primary objective of Section 253.131 is to ensure transparency in campaign financing. By holding candidates accountable for filing accurate and timely reports, the law aims to provide voters with essential information to make informed decisions at the polls.
Significance of Candidates’ Right to Sue:
The ability of candidates to sue their opponents over campaign finance violations serves as a powerful tool to maintain the integrity of the electoral process. It acts as a deterrent, encouraging candidates to adhere to campaign finance regulations, thereby fostering a fair and competitive political environment.
The Martinez de Vara Law Firm attorneys on this case were Adrian A. Spears, II, Charles Sierra and Art Martinez de Vara. The paralegals were Terri Gould and Misty Spears.