Naked City

T.A.B. Heads to D.C.?

The U.S. Supreme Court is the only option remaining for the Texas Association of Business as the lobby group steadfastly defies a grand-jury probe into T.A.B.'s possible violations of state election laws. The Court of Criminal Appeals has rejected T.A.B.'s request to halt the investigation and refused to quash a subpoena of T.A.B. Executive Director Bill Hammond.

T.A.B. is trying to avoid identifying the corporate donors of a $1.9 million political ad campaign that helped give Republicans control of the state House of Representatives. While the investment is paying off in the form of business-friendly legislation, the group's luck has otherwise run dry in the state courts. The ruling bolstered District Attorney Ronnie Earle's argument that the inquiry is indeed warranted. "Four courts and 14 judges have rejected the frivolous arguments of the Texas Association of Business," Earle said in a statement. "These courts have seen that the real issue in this case is actually quite simple: whether the public, acting through its grand jury, has the right to investigate violations of the law."

T.A.B. claims it exercised constitutionally protected free speech in its massive distribution of "issue ads" targeting crucial races in 22 House districts. T.A.B. has argued that the inquiry would subject its members and donors who funded the campaign to "legal and social harassment," but the court found no justification for such a claim.

T.A.B. attorney Andy Taylor replied in a statement: "This is just the first step of a marathon. We will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review this matter in order to protect the rights of free speech and free association for every Texan. We are confident that once a court rules on the merits, the democratic and judicial process will expose Ronnie Earle's so-called criminal investigation to be baseless and politically motivated."

Got something to say on the subject? Send a letter to the editor.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Amy Smith
The Work Matters
The Work Matters
A look back at some of our most impactful reporting

Sept. 3, 2021

Well-Behaved? Let's Assume Not.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story
Barbara Leaming's new biography makes the case that Jackie O suffered from PTSD

Nov. 28, 2014

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle