AUSTIN, Texas — Former congressman and presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke raised $600,000 for Texas House Democrats who left the state to break quorum during the Legislature’s special session last week, according to a report from the Austin American-Statesman. O’Rourke is set to announce the contribution Thursday morning.
O’Rourke, a Democrat, raised the money through his Powered By People PAC and sent it to party officials Monday. He said he expects his PAC to produce and send another check to lawmakers before the end of the special session.
“When we heard that they were leaving Texas, we emailed everyone on our list and tweeted, posted on Facebook and Instagram — every way we could possibly reach people to raise money for them and make sure that they had that clear support from Texas and around the country,” O’Rourke told the Statesman. “That’s both moral support, there were thousands of unique donors, and then financial support of not having to worry about resources to be able to stay there and stay in this fight.”
The majority of House Democrats and some Senate Democrats left Texas for Washington, D.C., on Monday, July 12, in response to election reform bills on the session agenda. The next day, House Democrats officially broke quorum, meaning the State House cannot do any business until enough come back.
The Democrats have said they do not plan to return to Texas until after the special session.
Rep. Armando Walle, who represents Houston, said the Texas House Democratic Caucus budgeted $1.5 million to cover lodging, food and transportation for lawmakers and their staffers, according to the Statesman.
“It’s like a campaign, you have to call folks, get on Zooms to help us sustain ourselves here. That takes dollars,” Walle said.
Walle has taken over some fundraising duties for the caucus while in Washington. He has not said how close it is to hitting its $1.5 million budget goal.
“We’ve gotten small dollar amounts, which is an indication of grassroots folks, average people who believe in the cause that are sending low dollar amounts,” Walle said. “That’s very helpful, that’s a shot in the arm. When you get that $2,500 donation, which is small in relative terms, it tells us that they believe in us by sending us a portion of their budget. They believe in the cause, they believe in us.”
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