AUSTIN (Nexstar) – From limo rides to movie rentals, the way political candidates spend campaign money opens the door for questions and criticism. But it rarely results in punishment.
The rules for spending campaign funds used to narrowly define how candidates could use donations meant for re-election efforts. But over the years, the rules expanded to allow spending for legal work, special events, and even donations to other campaigns.
Reporter Phil Prazan took a closer look at campaign spending for candidates in the race for U.S. House District 10.
Ethics experts say that reporting can be lax, and the current situation at the FEC makes enforcement difficult — if a violation is found in the first place. Experts say if a whistleblower doesn’t report an issue, inappropriate campaign spending is likely to occur.
Texans split on impeachment vote
Texans in Congress are all on the record when it comes to the impeachment of President Donald Trump. As expected, the 13 House Democrats from Texas voted yes, the 23 Republicans voted no.
Some Democrats from Texas took a little longer to decide. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a conservative Democrat, was one of the last to announce how he would vote.
“He’s been getting a lot of heat from a progressive in his primary,” explained Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey. He said waiting to announce helped call attention to his support of impeachment.
“I think this is a vote that everybody remembers,” Ramsey said.
Hernandez: I’m a ‘working class candidate’
Sema Hernandez surprised a lot of people in the 2018 Democratic Senate primary. Beto O’Rourke won the nomination, but Hernandez earned nearly a quarter of the vote, despite spending little money in the campaign.
Now, she’s back in the race for U.S. Senate. Hernandez is one of 12 Democrats running for the party’s nomination.
Hernandez says she’s a mother of four who reflects the values of working class Texans. “I told people that I was a baseball coach, community organizer, environmental justice advocate,” Hernandez said.
“I’m running to end the systemic poverty, systemic racism, and the ecological devastation that is brought on by policy violence, 40 years of neoliberal policy violence,” Hernandez said.
Texas judge could decide future of ACA
A court in Texas will play a key role in deciding the future of the Affordable Care Act. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the individual mandate in the ACA, also known as Obamacare, is unconstitutional.
The appeals court sent the case back to Fort Worth-based Judge Reed O’Connor to determine how much of the health care law can stand without the mandate. O’Connor has ruled against the ACA in several cases, but the ruling from the 5th Circuit still sent the case back to his court.
“They sent this case back to the lower court because they said we want you to do your homework again,” explained Emma Platoff, Justice and Politics reporter for the Texas Tribune.
“We want you to redo this analysis, make sure you’re considering some new factors and come up with a new result,” Platoff said of the ruling.
The decision has no immediate effect on people who get their health insurance through the ACA. The ruling will likely keep the health care law in limbo for months or years.