Koch Star State: the Kochs Flood Texas with Campaign Cash

Texas is a Red State. A really Red State. The Republican Party dominates every facet of government by a wide margin.

Despite this, recent Federal Election Committee (FEC) filings from the Koch Industries, Inc. Political Action Committee (KochPAC), show that the Kochs are flooding Texas elections with cash.

The billionaire brothers are backing 15 Texans for the U.S. House of Representatives, three candidates for the Texas Supreme Court, 31 candidates for the Texas House of Representatives, 16 candidates for the Texas State Senate, and one candidate for the State Railroad Commission.

Yep, the Kochs are backing Wayne Christian for Railroad Commissioner, who lists every far right group in Texas including Pro-Life Texas on his endorsements page but fails to mention that he has the Koch seal of approval evidenced by a $5,000 campaign contribution.

This makes sense. The Kochs back Christian not because of love of Thomas the Tank Engine, but because the Railroad Commission "regulates" the oil and gas industry, pipelines, the mining industry and alternative fuels.

But the enormity of the Kochs' investment in Texas has some shaking their heads. Below we list all the Koch candidates in Texas.

Congress

The Kochs are backing 15 candidates for the U.S. House. All are Republicans. All are incumbents. One, Rep. Kevin Brady (TX-08), is running unopposed, but still getting a slice of the cake.

The Texas Supreme Court

Three seats on the Texas Supreme Court will be on the general election ballot in November. The court is currently dominated by republicans, 9-0, so the outcome of the three elections will likely have no bearing on court decisions. Despite this, Debra Lehrmann, Paul Green, and Eva Guzman are all receiving support from the Kochs' KochPAC.

The Texas House of Representatives

All 150 seats are up for election in the Texas House of Representatives in 2016, but the democrats have absolutely NO shot at gaining control of the House. Even if they win every single seat they are running in, the Republicans have fielded too many candidates that are running unopposed.

Again, even though it will not result in a shift in power, the Kochs are supporting 31 candidates in their general election races, all through KochPAC.

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Of these 31 candidates:

  • 15 are Republicans running unopposed
  • 15 are Republicans facing challengers (7 Libertarians)
  • 1 is a Democrat running unopposed.

The Texas State Senate

In the Texas State Senate, 16 seats of 31 are up for reelection. Based on the current Republican majority of 20 seats and which seats are up for election, the republicans will remain in control because 12 of the 16 elections are uncontested. The Kochs' are backing ten candidates for State Senate through KochPAC, including four republicans without a challenger.

So why are the Kochs investing so heavily in state-level races in Texas while virtually ignoring state-level elections in the majority of the country?

Why?

No state is as important to the Kochs' bottom line as Texas. According to a report in the Houston Business Journal, "Texas has more Koch employees than any other state, 8,454, and there are 33,346 Texas jobs in total created by the Koch companies through direct, indirect and induced impacts."

These employees may work for a number of different Koch companies that operate in the state including (but not limited to): Flint Hills Resources, Georgia-Pacific, Koch Chemical Technology Group, Koch Energy Services, Koch Minerals, Koch Fertilizer, Koch Pipeline Company, Koch Supply & Trading, Matador Ranch, and Molex Incorporated.

Perhaps the Kochs' want to make sure those investments are in good hands with Koch-brand politicians.

Or perhaps the Kochs just have so money they are running out of places to put it.

Koch Candidates in Texas

According to our research, here is the full list of candidates the Kochs are backing in Texas in 2016. You can find our list of Koch Candidates nationwide here on SourceWatch.

Congress

  • Rep. Jeb Hensarling (TX-05) received a $5,000 contribution from KochPAC to Jobs, Economy and Budget Fund (JEB FUND). He also received an additional $10,000 in contributions from KochPAC to Friends of Jeb Hensarling.
  • Rep. Joe Barton (TX-06) received $4,000 from KochPAC to The Congressman Joe Barton Committee.
  • Rep. John Culberson (TX-07) received $5,000 from KochPAC to his Culberson for Congress.
  • Rep. Kevin Brady (TX-08) received $6,000 in contributions from KochPAC to Brady for Congress.
  • Rep. Michael McCaul (TX-10) received $2,000 from KochPAC to McCaul for Congress.
  • Rep. Mike Conaway (TX-11) received $1,500 from KochPAC to Conaway for Congress. He also received an additional $4,000 to his Conservative Opportunities for a New America PAC from KochPAC.
  • Rep. Randy Weber (TX-14) received a $1,000 contribution from KochPAC to Weber for Congress.
  • Rep. Bill Flores (TX-17) received a $2,000 contribution from KochPAC to Bill Flores for Congress.
  • Rep. Lamar Smith (TX-21) received $4,000 in contributions from KochPAC to Texans for Lamar Smith.
  • Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22) received $5,000 in contributions from KochPAC to Olson for Congress Committee. He received an additional $5,000 to his Freedom Matters PAC from KochPAC.
  • Rep. Kenny Marchant (TX-24) received $4,000 in contributions from KochPAC to his Kenny Marchant for Congress.
  • Rep. Roger Williams (TX-25) received $5,500 in contributions from KochPAC to Roger Williams for U S Congress Committee.
  • Rep. Michael C. Burgess (TX-26) received a $5,000 contribution from KochPAC to Michael Burgess for Congress.
  • Rep. Blake Farenthold (TX-27) received $10,000 in contributions from KochPAC to the Elect Blake Farenthold Committee.
  • Rep. Pete Sessions (TX-32) received a $2,500 contribution from KochPAC to Pete Sessions for Congress. His PAC, People for Enterprise Trade and Economic Growth (PETE PAC), received an additional $5,000 contribution from KochPAC.

Texas State Supreme Court

  • Eva M. Guzman received $3,000 from KochPAC to Guzman for Texas Supreme Court.
  • Paul Green received $3,000 from KochPAC to Judge Paul Green for Texas Supreme Court.
  • Debra Lehrmann received $3,000 from KochPAC to Judge Debra Lehrmann for Texas Supreme Court.

Texas House of Representatives

  • Rep. Dan Flynn (TX-02) received $2,000 from KochPAC to his campaign.
  • Rep. Stuart K. Spitzer (TX-04) received $1,000 from KochPAC to his campaign. After losing the primary to Lance Gooden, KochPAC contributed $1,000 to the Committee to Elect Lance Gooden.
  • Rep. Byron Cook (TX-08) received $2,000 from KochPAC to his Byron Cook for Texas House Campaign.
  • Rep. Chris Paddie (TX-09) received $2,000 from KochPAC to his Chris Paddie Campaign Committee.
  • Rep. Dade Phelan (TX-21) received $2,000 from KochPAC to his Dade Phelan Campaign.
  • Rep. Dennis Bonnen (TX-25) received $3,000 from KochPAC to his Dennis Bonnen Campaign.
  • Rep. Geanie Morrison (TX-30) received $3,000 from KochPAC to her campaign.
  • Rep. Todd Hunter (TX-32) received $4,000 from KochPAC to his campaign.
  • Rep. Abel Herrero (TX-34) received $2,000 from KochPAC to Abel Herrero Campaign.
  • Rep. Jose M. Lozano (TX-43) received $2,000 from KochPAC to Jose M. Lozano Campaign.
  • Rep. Jason Isaac (TX-45) received $2,000 from KochPAC to his Jason Isaac Campaign.
  • Rep. Paul Workman (TX-47) received $2,000 from KochPAC to Workman for Texas.
  • Rep. Doc Anderson (TX-56) received $2,000 from KochPAC to Committee for Doc Anderson.
  • Rep. Trent Ashby (TX-57) received $2,000 from KochPAC to the Trent Ashby Campaign.
  • Rep. Phil King (TX-61) received $2,000 from KochPAC to his Phil King Campaign.
  • Rep. Ron Simmons (TX-65) received $2,000 from KochPAC to his campaign.
  • Rep. Drew Springer Jr. (TX-68) received $2,000 from KochPAC to his Drew Springer Jr. Campaign.
  • Rep. Drew Darby (TX-72) received $3,000 from KochPAC to his Drew Darby Campaign.
  • Rep. Doug Miller (TX-73) received $4,000 in contributions from KochPAC to his campaign. Miller lost in the Republican primary to Kyle Biedermann.
  • Rep. Jodie A. Laubenberg (TX-89) received $2,000 from KochPAC to her campaign.
  • Rep. Charlie Geren (TX-99) received $3,000 from KochPAC to his campaign.
  • Rep. Rodney Anderson (TX-105) received $2,000 from KochPAC to his campaign.
  • Rep. Kenneth Sheets (TX-107) received $2,000 from KochPAC to Kenneth F. Sheets for State Representative.
  • Rep. Angie Button (TX-112) received $2,000 from KochPAC to her campaign.
  • Rep. Cindy Burkett (TX-113) received $2,000 from KochPAC to her campaign.
  • Rep. Jason Villalba (TX-114) received $2,000 from KochPAC to Texans for Jason Villalba.
  • Speaker of the House Rep. Joe Straus (TX-121) received $10,000 from KochPAC to Texans For Joe Straus.
  • Rep. Wayne Smith (TX-128) received $4,000 in contributions from KochPAC to his campaign. Smith was defeated by Briscoe Cain in the Republican primary.
  • Rep. Mike Schofield (TX-132) received $2,000 in contributions from KochPAC to his Mike Schofield Campaign.
  • Rep. Jim Murphy (TX-133) received $2,000 in contributions from KochPAC to Friends of Jim Murphy.
  • Rep. Gary Elkins (TX-135) received $2,000 in contributions from KochPAC to his Gary Elkins Campaign.
  • Rep. Tony Dale (TX-136) received $2,000 in contributions from KochPAC to his Texans for Tony Dale.
  • Rep. Gilbert Pena (TX-144) received $2,000 in contributions from KochPAC to his Gilbert Pena Campaign Committee.

Texas State Senate

  • Sen. Brandon Creighton (TX-04) received $2,000 in support from KochPAC to Friends of Brandon Creighton.
  • Rep. Bryan Hughes (TX-05) is not seeking reelection for his seat in the House, but is running for the Texas Senate Seat in District 1. KochPAC gave $2,000 to Bryan Hughes for Texas Senate.
  • Sen. Larry Taylor (TX-11) received $2,000 from KochPAC to his Larry Taylor Campaign.
  • Sen. Jane Nelson (TX-12) received $2,000 from KochPAC to her campaign.
  • Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (TX-18) received $2,000 from KochPAC to her Lois Kolkhorst Campaign.
  • Sen. Juan Hinojosa (TX-20) received $3,000 from KochPAC to Hinojosa for State Senate.
  • Sen. Judy Zaffirini (TX-21) received $2,000 from KochPAC to Judy Zaffirini for Senate.
  • Sen. Brian Birdwell (TX-22) received $2,000 in support from KochPAC to Brian Birdwell Campaign.
  • Dawn Buckingham received $2,000 in support from KochPAC to Dawn Buckingham for Senate for her campaign to win the Texas Senate District 24 seat.
  • Sen. Charles Perry (TX-28) received $2,000 in support from KochPAC to his Charles Perry Campaign.

Texas Railroad Commissioner

  • Wayne Christian received $5,000 from KochPAC to his Wayne Christian for Texas.

Mary Bottari contributed to this article.

David Armiak

David Armiak is a researcher and writer at the Center for Media and Democracy.

He is a cultural anthropologist who has research interests not only in U.S. politics, but also in South Korea's social movements.