Campaign finance reports filed this week by candidates for state offices and campaigns supporting local ballot propositions reveal what’s in their coffers and the people and groups supporting each race or issue. 

The most recent finance reports were filed Monday and cover the period from July 1 to Sept. 24. Candidates file their final finance reports prior to the upcoming elections on Oct. 26.

Campaign finance reports show voters how much money is coming into a campaign, what’s being spent, and who is helping a candidate get elected. Those reports are made available by the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC) according to set deadlines at various intervals throughout the campaign.

With the exception of judicial candidates, Texas does not have contribution limits for most offices, according to the TEC. Accepting cash contributions exceeding $100 and accepting anonymous contributions is against the rules.

Incumbent Flores’ big advantage

Campaign finance reports show State Sen. Pete Flores (R-Pleasanton) raised nearly three times what his Democratic challenger, State Rep. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio), has brought in during the last three months. The traditionally Democratic District 19 seat, won by Flores in a 2018 special election, covers a 17-county region stretching from West Texas to San Antonio along the Texas-Mexico border and is one the Democrats badly want to regain.

Flores raised $627,919 during the filing period, while Gutierrez brought in $199,270. 

Most of Flores’ haul came from political action committees (PACs), including $300,000 from the Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC, $100,000 from the Republican State Leadership Committee, and $1,000 from the ExxonMobil PAC. Of the total Flores raised, $64,469.47 was reported as in-kind, non-monetary contributions.

Among the notable individuals chipping in to Flores’ campaign was Texas Historical Commission Chair John Nau, president and CEO of Silver Eagle Distributors, who donated $20,000.

Contributions to Gutierrez’s campaign came from a large number of individuals, with a $500 donation from State Rep. Ina Minjarez (D-San Antonio) and $25,000 being the highest amount coming from San Antonio attorney Mikal Watts, plus several smaller amounts from PACs, such as Boeing ($1,000). Gutierrez reported a contribution of $25,000 from the Texas Trial Lawyers Association and $5,000 from the Texas State Teachers Association. 

Since July 1, Flores’ campaign also outspent Gutierrez tenfold. Total campaign expenditures by Flores came to $531,779 compared to Gutierrez’s $50,785. 

Rematch in House District 121

(from left) Steve Allison and Celina Montoya are battling for Texas State House seat District 121 left open by Texas Speaker Joe Straus.
(from left) Republican incumbent Steve Allison is once again facing Democrat Celina Montoya for Texas House District 121. Credit: Composite / San Antonio Report

Another seat targeted by Democrats is in House District 121, where Republican State Rep. Steve Allison is again facing his 2018 opponent, Democrat Celina Montoya. The district covers a large swath of Northeast Bexar County, from TPC Parkway to Alamo Heights, and was represented by Joe Straus, former Texas House Speaker, from 2005 to 2018.

In the latest reporting period, Allison slightly outraised Montoya, $494,527 to $442,962.

Both have spent about a third of their total funds during the reporting period. Montoya’s campaign expenditures totaled $120,219 and Allison’s $123,631, but Montoya reported having almost $326,000 cash on hand while her Republican opponent had a little over $222,000 cash on hand.

Montoya’s campaign pointed to the large number of individual contributions, more than 14,000, it had gotten compared to Allison, whose individual donors number a little more than 300. Allison, who defeated Montoya by just over 8 percentage points in 2018, has pulled in donations from an array of corporate political action committees, while Montoya’s website states she does not accept money from corporate PACs.

Local proposition campaigns haul in cash

Also filing finance reports this week were the specific-purpose political committees backing three local measures in the upcoming elections. 

On Nov. 3, San Antonio voters will decide whether to support VIA Metropolitan Transit’s Yes For Mobility measure, as well as City of San Antonio propositions, Pre-K 4 SA and SA: Ready to Work

The ballot gives voters the opportunity to approve renewing a one-eighth-cent sales tax for Pre-K 4 SA and using a separate one-eighth-cent tax to fund the SA: Ready to Work workforce development programs until 2026 and then direct the sales tax revenue to VIA Metropolitan Transit. The second measure, on the ballot as Proposition B, reallocates the one-eighth-cent sales tax that has funded the Edwards Aquifer protection program and a greenway trails system.

None of the measures would result in a tax increase.

The initiative with the largest financial support between July 1 and Sept. 24 is the Keep Pre-K 4 SA campaign, which pulled in $769,550 from 23 donors and spent $526,518. Total cash on hand was $360,467.

Some of the largest contributions came from individuals, including H-E-B Chairman Charles Butt with $350,000, former Rackspace and downtown developer Graham Weston with $50,000, and H-E-B President Craig Boyan with $50,000.

Other large donors to the Pre-K campaign include local corporations such as USAA, NuStar Energy, Frost Bank, Valero, and Zachry Group. A Washington, D.C.,-based group that works to improve equity for youth, Children’s Funding Project, also contributed $50,000.

The Yes For Mobility PAC reported $52,425 in campaign contributions and a $25,000 pledge for the Advanced Transportation District’s special election to improve public transit. It spent $45,483. The report shows a balance of $168,652 cash on hand.

Of the total 14 donors to the campaign committee, Frost Bank contributed the largest amount at $15,000. Two others contributed $10,000 each – developer Edward Cross II and Holt CAT – and two contributed $5,000 each – Pape-Dawson Engineers and Tullos Wells, managing director of the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation. 

The Ready to Work SA campaign committee reported eight backers contributing a total of $183,000, with the report reflecting expenses and fundraising between Aug. 13 and Sept. 24.

The largest contributors were H-E-B at $80,000, Frost Bank at $50,000, and Weston at $25,000. Former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros contributed $5,000. The committee reported $97,234 in campaign expenditures with more than $120,000 cash on hand.

For more information about the candidates, the issues, and voting in the upcoming election, click here.

Frost Bank, Graham Weston’s 80/20 Foundation, H-E-B, Valero, NuStar Energy, USAA, Silver Eagle Distributors, Charles Butt, Tullos Wells, and Henry Cisneros are financial supporters of the San Antonio Report. For a full list of business members, click here.

Shari Biediger has been covering business and development for the San Antonio Report since 2017. A graduate of St. Mary’s University, she has worked in the corporate and nonprofit worlds in San Antonio...