Texas Politicians Want to Issue Editorial Guidelines

Article excerpt

Texas politicians want to issue editorial guidelines

Texas lawmakers, smarting from years of news reports about lavish spending by lobbyists and editorial calls for reform, struck back in a House ethics bill.

Along with provisions on legislative ethics, the bill includes an amendment that would impose new requirements for editorials by newspapers, television and radio stations.

Media groups say it's unconstitutional. Even the author, Rep. Eddie Cavazos, said they may be right and it may not make it through final passage.

As explained by Cavazos, the amendment would require editorials on legislative matters to be accompanied by a list of advertisers that might be affected by the legislation.

"For example, let's say there's a bill that favors automobile dealers, and they come out in an opinion saying you all should pass this bill. I think they ought to list all the automobile dealers that buy advertising in their newspaper, and how much," he said.

Intentional failure to make the disclosure could be punished by a $500 fine.

Cavazos said the amendment was prompted by editorials advocating passage of ethics legislation.

"I just know that they've been questioning our sincerity, and they've been questioning our character, and they want us to tell everybody about it if there's a conflict of interest. And if it's good for us, it's good for them," he said.

Outraged newspaper groups called the proposal an attempt to subvert the First Amendment. …