(Houston tea party group King Street Patriots may risk violating state, federal laws, experts say. Patrick Brendel, The American Independent)
“You can’t operate a candidate forum where you bring in only one side of the spectrum. If you do you’re a political committee,” said Austin attorney Buck Wood, a Texas elections expert. “If a nonprofit takes money to pay for candidate forums and is expending that money to expose candidates for public office to audiences on a regular basis, then I have no doubt you’re a political committee under Texas law.”The entire piece is, to be honest, filled with tortured prose but the crux of the argument is that King Street Patriots is being less than balanced with how they handle the invitations to their political rallies. The article doesn't come right out and say it, but the primary issue is the continued efforts of both HoustonVotes and True the Vote to have each other's funding sources revealed. (As 501(c)4 non-profits neither are required to reveal in the manner of say....a 527 organization)
When told about experts’ observations that KSP may be breaking laws, Engelbrecht disagreed.
Well, we’re not,” she said.
If you're thinking by now that both organizations have partisan leanings and neither should truly qualify as a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)4 you're probably right. As time goes on the Tea Party groups are being assimilated by the GOP and groups like Texans Together (and the One Nation rally held last weekend) are more offshoots of the Democratic Left than any independent progressive movement.
With both sides chipping away and neither organization willing to open their books it seems most likely that this drama is going to be played out in the confines of the Texas Ethics Commission.
Which means that, sometime after the 2012 election, we might have an answer....maybe. Or at least a series of weak fines that will allow each side to claim "victory" without achieving anything. The latter is my bet.