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The Texas Ethics Commission has approved a Houston-based PAC’s proposal to allow committees to solicit text message contributions from state donors. While the Federal Election Commission approved a federal text-to-donate model for campaigns back in June of 2012, down-ballot campaigns need approval at the state level.
The eagerness on the part of the Texas PAC—Harris County Republicans—stemmed from its desire to have donation functionality added to its voter mobilization app. “I think the most interesting use of text-to-donate will be in reaching large numbers of ‘unwired’ potential donors or those who aren't effectively reachable by phone, mail, or email,” says Peter Pasi, executive VP of eMotive. “These voters—many of whom are African-Americans and Latinos who use their smartphone as their primary device to connect to the web—are also heavy users of SMS. It presents a unique opportunity for Republicans to generate new donors from—and start building real connections into this community.”
The Harris County Republicans PAC proposed two models for processing text message contributions. The first—allowing committees to accept small-dollar donations without gathering identifying information—was rejected by the Texas Ethics Commission on the grounds that Texas law doesn’t permit any contribution from an anonymous source.
The second model—in which committees use a series of reply messages to gather a donor’s name, address and other information to meet their reporting requirements—was accepted.
Political committees won’t need to wait until donors pay their cell phone bills before receiving a portion of their contributions.