RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (VallleyCentral) — A recently enacted law aims to shed light on money in politics. Local governments are now required to post campaign finance information online. The law applies to cities, counties, and special taxing districts.
Edinburg City Secretary Clarice Balderas said this is something the city had been doing already.
“I believe some cities are just beginning to upload their campaign finance reports to their website, but the city of Edinburg has been doing this for quite a while,” Balderas said.
Balderas said Edinburg tries to provide the public with as much information as possible. She said the city has campaign finance reports on its website dating back to 2019. Balderas added that Edinburg got a lot of requests for this kind of information.
“That is why we have them on the website. It just made the process easier. It’s already available to the public, they don’t have to make the request,” Balderas said.
House Bill 2626 was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott in June and took effect Sept. 1. The bill was introduced by State Representative Carl Tepper, a Republican from Lubbock. Representative Tepper said he was able to find information about state and national candidates, but when it came to local races, he had trouble finding the same reports.
“I found it frustrating that I was not able to find the campaign finance reports of local officials on the web,” Tepper said.
The information has to be posted within 10 days of being received and must stay online for five years. If an organization wasn’t already posting these reports online before the new law, members of the public would have to make an appointment to see them in person.
Alamo City Secretary Vanessa Treviño said there’s an established procedure for looking at the documents.
“We’ll show them to them. They can ask, ‘I want a certain specific candidate.’ They’re able to view them at that point. The public has access to it, and it is stressed to them from the very beginning, that anybody can come in and ask for it at any time, and it’s regularly available for them.”
Treviño said her office scans and uploads the finance reports to the city’s website the day after they’re received. She said any amendments or corrections to the documents are also uploaded.
La Joya City Secretary Leo Olivares said he believes a healthy democracy starts with an informed public. Olivares said, “Great tool for the public. Learn about the candidates. Who’s behind them? Who’s contributing? What they’re spending on. It’s available right there. So take advantage. Anywhere, any city.”
Officials with La Joya, Alamo, and Edinburg said their cities are in compliance with the new law. The Texas Ethics Commission has sent out a memo to all affected entities, notifying them of the new requirements.