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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying Failed Officials Who Support It

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Local officials who support local government using taxpayer money to lobby the state government—a practice widely opposed by Texans—also gave clear examples of how the practice failed them.

Taxpayer-funded lobbying is when governments use monies citizens pay them to hire lobbyists to push for or against action in the Texas Legislature or Congress. Oftentimes, these lobbyists push against citizen interests, such as lowering property tax bills.

Officials in two of Texas’ largest cities are among those who support the practice: Fort Worth City Councilmember Cary Moon and outgoing Dallas City Councilmember Lee Kleinman.

“The Legislature is hostile to municipalities, and we must hire lobbyists to help filter all the proposed legislation and leverage our own team,” Kleinman previously told Texas Scorecard. He also said these lobbyists have alerted council members to “pre-emptive legislation” and that they “have gained access for council members to legislators and department staff that I don’t believe we would have had on our own.”

Texas Scorecard asked Kleinman for an example of this “gained access:”

“In the 2017 session, we had many meetings with [former State] Rep. Dan Flynn, [who was then] chair of the Pensions Committee, to discuss the taxpayer bailout of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System,” he replied. “Being that he does not represent Dallas, a lobbyist made the initial introductions.”

Moon offered his own take on the practice. “Conservatives are on the wrong side of the issue because you can’t take lobbying away from us as a local government if you’re not going to take it away at the state level. And you don’t want to take it away from us as a city if we’re competing with other cities at the federal level.”

As an example, Moon described a conflict that occurred in the Texas Legislature between the Fort Worth city government and AT&T. The

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