2017 has been a dramatic year in Texas politics, with new factions and players emerging, and whispers of power changes coming down the pike.
One of the more intriguing stories in political circles in Austin has been the rise of issues surrounding mandated vaccinations, whether or not informed consent matters, and how medical records should be protected. The debate in Texas has gotten so intense, its garnered national attention.
A small group, comprised mainly of women, has successfully positioned themselves as a force in the Capitol. They call themselves “Texans for Vaccine Choice.” We first saw this group, often referred to as “mad moms in minivans,” two years ago. Even from their humble beginnings, they took on the powerful Texas Medical Association and dozens of pharmaceutical companies… and their number grew.
They now have a website, very active social media presence, blog team, official press releases, and their own professionally-prepared legislative agenda packets.
Their second legislation session wasn’t just defense – they defeated every single bill they deemed a threat – but this time they filed their own bills, and flooded the pink dome with their passionate supporters at public hearings in committee.
A quick look at their Texas Ethics Commission financial reports (required by state law) shows a completely unorthodox funding structure. Organizations are typically funded by just a few wealthy individuals or companies. Not Texans for Vaccine Choice.
Instead, over 400 individuals appeared on their last semiannual report. Most seem to be signed up as small-dollar monthly donors, many of which have no record of giving to candidates or organizations before TFVC. That means these new political activists probably aren’t going to stop giving anytime soon.
In the last six months, their largest donor chipped in $1,600; their smallest, literally $1. Most of their financial supporters fall in the range of $5 to $50 a month. In total, this small, grassroots-driven organization brought in over $43,000 according to the latest report. If their funds continue to come in along this trajectory, they could potentially be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in elections every two years.
That is great news for the 15 elected officials friendly to TFVC’s position who recently received contributions from them.
These “mad moms in minivans” appear to be here to stay, and that means the vaccine debate will rage on as well.
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