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Make no doubt about it, the Texas Tribune is a left-leaning arm of the Democrat Media Complex. They were founded and funded by leftists, and — to the best of my knowledge — are staffed entirely by fellow leftists (again, if there is a single Conservative on the editorial or reporting staff at the Tribune, please stand up now).
But that doesn’t make them completely worthless (just mostly worthless). What the folks at the Tribune do exceedingly well is finding and collecting political data (often public, open-records stuff), and then developing cutting edge applications and interfaces to share and analyse that data.
Like their latest project, the Lawmaker Explorer, which is “a guide to the financial interests of State Legislators.”
The Lawmaker Explorer is an interactive tool to help educate citizens on the degree to which legislators’ personal interests conflict with the public interest when passing bills and setting policy. Use the search box or click on the headshots below to find research and analysis on specific lawmakers. You can also sort them by party, office or occupation. For more information about this project, which was generously supported by the Fund for Investigative Journalism, please visit our about page.
One of the interesting features is the ability to see who has donated big dollars to particular legislators.
While the folks at the Trib claim to be, “a non-profit, nonpartisan public media organization. Our mission is to promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government, and other matters of statewide concern…” I have found them to be anything but non-partisan in their liberal activism.
As I noted above, the Trib was founded and funded by Leftist money. Most notably from John Thornton, who is a general partner of Austin Ventures, a local venture capital firm. Mr. Thornton is also an active supporter of Texas Democrats, but claims he has “given up partisan politics for the sake of the Texas Tribune.”
With that in mind, I searched his name in the new Lawmaker Explorer and came up with these hits:
That’s somewhat helpful, but I couldn’t be certain which, if any, of these John Thornton’s was the same deep-pocketed founder/funder of the Trib. So I asked the folks at the Trib for a little transparency about their transparency project:
— Robbie Cooper (@RobbieCooper) January 14, 2013
So far the response has been “no reply.”
So…let’s just make some assumptions here and whittle the list down a bit. We know that John’s wife’s name is Julie and that they live in Austin, to include property downtown (78701).
Right off the top of the bat, we can see that John and Julie made at least 6 political “joint” contributions to politicians last year:
Let’s take a closer look and see to whom they gave so generously:
- In the first joint listing, they contributed $2500 to Patrick Rose and $500 to Ann Kitchen. Both of them were Democrat candidates.
- The second listing, made from their 78731 property, was two donations totaling $1100 to Stephen Yelenosky. Also a Democrat.
- The third joint listing was another $500 donation to Ann Kitchen (D), made using their 78731 address, rather than the 78701 address used for their earlier contribution.
- And the fourth joint contribution was for $2000 to the TFN 21st Century Education PAC. If you <a href=”http://www.followthemoney.org/database/topcontributor.phtml?u=16489″>follow their money</a>, you’ll see that historically, just about 100% of their contributions go to…you guessed it…Democrat candidates.
I’ll give John the benefit of the doubt and assume he only donated from either his 78701 or 78731 addresses, and thus eliminate the other contributors as “other John Thorntons, who are in no way associated with the totally non-partisan Texas Tribune.”
So, let’s examine the remaining “John Thorntons”.
We also know that the Trib’s founder’s middle name starts with the letter “D”. So, I’m going to assume that the 9 contributions attributed to John D. Thornton are the same Austin Ventures/Texas Tribune John Thornton. If I’m wrong, Texas Trib folks, please feel free to correct me.
Let’s take a look at those 9 contributions, totaling $16500.
- The first listing shows 2 more contributions for Ann Kitchens ($1500) and another $1000 to Ben Bentzin. Who, oddly, is a Republican. But a very odd, Birkenstock-wearing Republican.
- The second listing shows a $10k contribution to the Texas Democrat Trust, $2K for John Sharp (D), $500 more for Patrick Rose (D), $1000 more for Ben Bentzin, and $500 for Dawnna Dukes (D).
Which leaves us with one final contributor in our list. A John Thornton from 78701 who made 23 campaign contributions totaling $70K. Does anybody believe that this is a different John Thornton? I don’t. Those contributions? Yep…to a bunch of Democrats, to include:
- $26500 to Kirk Watson (D)
- $10K to Tom Schieffer (D)
- $10K for Tony Sanchez (D)
- $5K to the Travis County Democrat Party
- $5K to Wendy Davis (D)
- $2500 to ActBlue Texas
Now…don’t get me wrong. John Thornton is perfectly within his right to support the candidates of his choice. And to spend his money founding media organizations that align with his political philosophy and activism. But don’t insult me (and other readers of the Tribune) by claiming that John has “given up partisan politics for the sake of the Texas Tribune.” When he has done anything but that.
Mr. Thornton has a history of political activism and a history of putting his money behind his political ideology. Does anybody really believe that he put all that money behind a media organization that didn’t share his politics and agenda? Well, then I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.