The Texas House State Affairs Committee today is looking into whether politically active non profit organizations should be required to disclose the source of money that they donate to political campaigns, 1200 WOAI news reports.
The issue has split the state right down the middle, largely with Republicans demanding that the names of donors not be released, and Democrats saying it increases transparency in government.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) urged the Legislature in a Facebook post today to reject any attempt to require donor identification, saying it violates the donor's First Amendment rights.
"Money is and has always been used as a critical tool of speech, whether it is in publishing books, or broadcasting a message on the airways," Cruz said.
But Former U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens says donating to an organization is not protected free speech.
"Speech is only one of the activities that are financed by campaign contributions," Stevens said, pointing out that the Watergate burglary was financed by contributions to Richard Nixon's re-election campaign. "That activity should not face the same freedoms as individual speech."
Republic Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a bill in the last Legislature which would have required non profit groups to disclose major donors. It is now required that for profit political groups and campaigns, which are not tax deductible, to disclose the names of donors.
Many Republicans are worried about the impact of liberal Internet-organized pressure groups which harass and threaten boycotts against organizations and individuals who donate to conservative candidates. They cite the former CEO of Mozilla, who was ousted from that job following intense protests from liberal groups who were upset that he donated to a campaign to fight California's law allowing gay marriage.