Money, Power, Politics, and Influence in an around the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute
The Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute is perhaps the most important organization in Texas that most Texans have never heard of. But they have felt its impact when regressive legislation proposed and supported by TCCRI becomes law.
The board of directors of TCCRI includes Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick, Texas Comptroller Glen Hegar, 9 state senators and 10 state representatives. In addition, 13 members of TCCRI’s board are registered lobbyists, including such powerhouses as Mike Toomey, Lara Keel, and Bill Oswald. Mr. Oswald represents the interests of Koch Industries in Texas, and is the registered lobbyist for 9 Koch Industries’ Texas subsidiaries. Tax returns show that the Charles Koch Foundation contributed $1.8 million to TPPF in 2018 and another $1.5 million in 2019. In turn, records at the Texas Ethics Commission indicate that the members of TPPF’s board of directors made campaign contributions to board members of TCCRI totaling $485,705 during the years 2019-2021. Approximately two-thirds of that amount went to Lt. Gov. Patrick.
A majority of the board members of TCCRI are members or participants with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Not surprisingly, therefore, many of the cookie-cutter bills developed in ALEC meetings between legislators from many states and contributing corporations get introduced in the Texas legislature. Many get passed.
TCCRI reports on its tax returns that it expends nothing for lobbying activities, thus maintaining its tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status. However, the very structure of the organization belies this claim. It provides a forum for the deliberations and mutual influence of state officials, legislators, and registered lobbyists who represent the interests of some 110 specific client firms and the more general goals of Texas businesses of low taxes and minimal regulations.