On Saturday, Texas governor Rick Perry vetoed S.B. 346, legislation that would have forced certain nonprofit groups to disclose their financial supporters. As I’ve previously written, this unconstitutional legislation would have made it easier to target conservatives, which already happens in similar contexts. This particular legislation was apparently designed to make life difficult for those who support Michael Quinn Sullivan, a conservative activist who has been a thorn in the side of the Texas Republican establishment.
Governor Perry deserves a big, Texas-sized thank you for vetoing the legislation despite significant pressure from within his own party. Here is the text of his veto message:
“Freedom of association and freedom of speech are two of our most important rights enshrined in the Constitution. My fear is that SB 346 would have a chilling effect on both of those rights in our democratic political process. While regulation is necessary in the administration of Texas political finance laws, no regulation is tolerable that puts anyone’s participation at risk or that can be used by any government, organization or individual to intimidate those who choose to participate in our process through financial means.”
“At a time when our federal government is assaulting the rights of Americans by using the tools of government to squelch dissent it is unconscionable to expose more Texans to the risk of such harassment, regardless of political, organizational or party affiliation. I therefore veto SB 346.”
The bill’s sponsor, Republican state senator Kel Seliger, does not expect a veto override.