AUSTIN, TX – The Pillar of Law Institute filed an amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) brief with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in the case Cary v. Texas today, arguing that the Texas Attorney General’s Office unconstitutionally applied the state’s bribery, money laundering and organized crime statutes to what were actually campaign finance violations.
“Texas law is clear that campaign contributions can be considered bribes only in very specific circumstances,” said Stephen Klein, Pillar of Law attorney and author of the brief. “The Texas Attorney General’s Office could not make a real bribery case against Stacy Cary, so they invented a ‘bribe to run for office’ offense.”
Last week, the Texas Third Court of Appeals at Austin ruled that a criminal charge brought against former Texas Governor Rick Perry violated freedom of speech and threatened to “criminaliz[e] much of the ordinary day-to-day workings of government.” Last year, the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the conviction of former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay for “money laundering” certain campaign contributions.
“Whether it’s the Texas Ethics Commission, the Attorney General’s Office, or the Public Integrity Unit, state agencies are playing fast-and-loose with free speech,” said Klein. “We expect Stacy Cary’s case will be another addition to the state’s well-deserved record of losses in political speech cases, but the only real victory for the First Amendment will be when Texas prosecutors stop bringing persecutions like this in the first place.”
Austin attorney Trey Trainor, with Beirne, Maynard and Parsons LLP, serves as local counsel on the brief. The Pillar of Law Institute, founded in March 2015, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization in Washington, DC that is dedicated to defending political free speech and association nationwide.
Steve Klein, attorney