Saturday, March 04, 2006

Leininger Spends "$590,000 in last-minute 'in kind' contributions"

He spent that this week alone! Here's the story, Voucher advocate gives final push:
A committee funded by school-voucher advocate James Leininger uncorked nearly $600,000 more this week against moderate House Republicans who sided against him last year.

Since last fall, Dr. Leininger has spent $2.4 million to knock off five GOP incumbents who helped scuttle voucher legislation. He has spent a total of nearly $3 million on all House races.

The San Antonio businessman said Friday that he's put away his checkbook.

"I certainly did make a sizable donation at the start of the week, and so I'm done, I can tell you that, I'm done," he said. "Hopefully, forever."
One of his main targets and "Texan Of The Year" Rep. Carter Casteel isn't taking this lying down:
The committee poured more than $305,000 this week into beating Rep. Carter Casteel, the New Braunfels Republican who was a leader in the fight against a voucher bill that failed in last year's regular legislative session.

She said Friday that the donations have allowed her opponent in Tuesday's primary, retired military officer Nathan Macias of Bulverde, to attack her in TV spots running on San Antonio's major TV network affiliates.

It is rare for legislative candidates to run ads on TV in major cities because of the high cost.

"Trust me, politics will never be the same in Texas unless we stop this foolishness of letting people buy elections," Ms. Casteel said. "If the man wants to own Texas, why doesn't he go up there and be governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the House and the whole shooting match?"

Dr. Leininger responded: "Obviously, that's ludicrous. Nobody buys even a state representative seat, let alone a governor or lieutenant governor or speaker of the House or anything else."

He added: "We have wide open ethics reports and everybody knows what you're spending, and the people decide."

But Ms. Casteel said retired teachers should have as much say in elections as Dr. Leininger, who has paid for poor children in San Antonio to attend private schools.

"To spend $305,000 in the last week, they've got to be desperate," she said.

The latest donations make her the top target of Dr. Leininger, who has spent about $755,000 to beat her.
Mr. Leininger has got it bad for Rep. Casteel. I sure hope that if Rep. Casteel gets through this race she will be following this up with some serious campaign finance reform legislation next year. But this all comes down to one question. Are the people of District 73 going to allow a rich man buy their representative or will they keep their independent representation (Click the link to get the T-shirt)?

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