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ACLU, Free Market Foundation Want In On Speaker Race

Rights group and religious right suing Texas Ethics Commission over right to pump money into speaker race.

By Richard Whittaker, 4:33PM, Wed. Feb. 13, 2008

(L. to r. Free Market Foundation president Kelly Shackelford, attorney James Ho, ACLU of Texas legislative director Lisa Graybill, FMF director of Litigation Hiram Sasser) Because what Texas politics needs is more money.
(L. to r. Free Market Foundation president Kelly Shackelford, attorney James Ho, ACLU of Texas legislative director Lisa Graybill, FMF director of Litigation Hiram Sasser) Because what Texas politics needs is more money.
Photo by Richard Whittaker

They're calling themselves "strange bedfellows," but the unexpected grouping of the ACLU of Texas, religious right advocates the Free Market Foundation and conservative followers of Phyllis "Sexual harassment on the job is not a problem for virtuous women” Schlafly, the Texas Eagle Forum have joined forces to sue the Texas Ethics Commission over the right to campaign about the Texas House Speaker race.

They have come together to get sections of the 1973 speaker's act nullified. The federal suit, filed in the Austin Division of the Western District, argues that two sections (a ban on groups getting involved in influencing the speaker race, and a $100 personal limit on individual expenditure for anyone other than a speaker candidate) are unconstitutional. In a press conference this afternoon (held, seemingly with no trace of irony) in the speaker's conference chamber, ACLU of Texas legal director Lisa Graybill and Kelly Shackelford, the foundation's president, announced they are seeking a temporary, then a permanent injunction against the commission, preventing them from enforcing the law.

When asked, Shackelford was coy about whether or not his group would be sinking money into primary races for candidates for or against certain un-named speaker candidates. "Grassroots groups," he said without naming them, are interested.

Which is odd, because in the complaint the forum and the foundation say that they are planning on "making expenditures to advocate for the election or defeat of particular speaker candidates," as well as backing or opposing other candidates on the basis of which way their speaker vote would go.

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