Texas State Seal

TEXAS ETHICS COMMISSION

Texas State Seal

Opinion History

ETHICS ADVISORY OPINION NO. 301

February 9, 1996

Whether a corporation may make contributions to a candidate for county chair of a political party. (AOR-335)

The Texas Ethics Commission has been asked to consider whether a corporation may make contributions to a candidate for county chair of a political party.

The Texas campaign finance law, title 15 of the Election Code, prohibits corporations from making "campaign contributions." Elec. Code § 253.094. A campaign contribution is a contribution to a candidate (or a political committee) made in connection with a campaign for elective office. Id. § 251.001(3). A "candidate" is a person who knowingly and willingly takes affirmative action for the purpose of gaining nomination or election to public office. Id. subsec. (1) (emphasis added). Officers of political parties are not public officers. Carter v. Tomlinson, 227 S.W.2d 795 (Tex. 1950); see also Martinez v. Democratic Comm. for Responsible Gov’t, 521 S.W.2d 284 (Tex. Civ. App.—Eastland 1975, writ ref’d n.r.e.) (campaign finance law that preceded title 15 does not apply to elections for political party officers). Therefore, under title 15 a corporation may make contributions to a candidate for county chair of a political party.

SUMMARY

Title 15 of the Election Code does not prohibit a corporation from making contributions to a candidate for county chair of a political party.