Did Mechler Lie or Did RPT Break the Law?

Once again, Republican Party of Texas State Chairman Tom Mechler is attempting to take credit for the overwhelming defeat of the Houston bathroom ordinance (also known as the “Houston Equal Rights Ordinance”, “HERO”, or “Proposition 1”).

In a recent e-mail to state convention delegates, Mechler takes exception to claims that he sat “on the sidelines” while the battle over the Houston bathroom ordinance was being fought. Mechler claims that the Republican Party of Texas, on his watch, made over 125,000 phone calls and knocked on over 36,000 doors to turn out the vote against the ordinance.

In the same campaign e-mail, Mechler also seems to insinuate that his opponent for the Party chairmanship, Jared Woodfill, is “someone who sits behind a computer and lobs false attacks against the grassroots of our Party who are the lifeblood of the RPT.” Woodfill was in many ways the public face of the opposition to the bathroom ordinance and was an instrumental leader of the “Campaign For Houston” organization that raised and spent the bulk of the funds used to defeat the ordinance.

Should Mechler’s claims about the RPT’s involvement in the ordinance be true, one would assume that the State Party would have expended funds in opposition to the ballot measure. State law requires Political Action Committees that make political expenditures in opposition to ballot measures to file pre-election campaign finance reports indicating such expenditures (the Republican Party of Texas is organized as a General Purpose Political Action Committee for state campaign finance purposes).

The Republican Party of Texas did not file any pre-election campaign finance reports with the Texas Ethics Commission or the City of Houston reporting expenditures opposing the Houston bathroom ordinance. As it is highly unlikely that the Republican Party of Texas could have engaged in the battle against the Houston bathroom ordinance to the degree that Mechler claims without spending any money, it appears that Mechler’s claims are false or that the Republican Party of Texas violated state campaign finance law.

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