Herman: Good news! Looks like the Abbott campaign raffle is legal

As an American who believes it’s important for us to be able to believe in our elected leaders, I’m happy to bring you this update: It looks like the Gov. Greg Abbott campaign’s Astros flag raffle is legal. I told you this would work out OK.

You might recall I raised a question about this after several readers noted that, under state gambling law, a political campaign cannot conduct a raffle in which folks must pay to enter. The legal term for that is “illegal.”

The Abbott campaign last week announced it’s raffling off an Astros flag that hung at the Governor’s Mansion after our beloved Houston baseball team won the 2017 World Series. The email fundraising pitch said the contest was open to folks who donate $3 or more to the Abbott re-election campaign.

That would appear to make it an illegal raffle under state law. But buried way down in the email pitch about the raffle was fine print saying, “No purchase or contribution is necessary to enter or win. For more information, contact info@gregabbott.com.” That would make it legal.

READ: Republican lobbyist, ethics adviser challenges Sid Miller in primary

So, wanting the flag (though a longtime Mets fan), I dutifully sent an email to info@gregabbott.com to figure out how to enter without a purchase or contribution. My first request was sent Monday morning. After hearing nothing in return, I sent another email Tuesday morning. Friday is the deadline and the drawing is Saturday, so the clock is ticking on this.

Early Wednesday, still not having heard how to enter without sending money, I tried to enter by putting zero dollars on the entry form that offered eight choices ranging from $35 to $2,500.

There’s another box in which you can choose to “Make this a monthly recurring donation.” The campaign has helpfully checked that box, requiring entrants to uncheck it if they don’t want to make it a monthly recurring donation.

There’s also an “other” box, one I thought might be able to be used to enter without contributing. So I entered a zero in the “other” box but got dead-ended when the form asked for my credit card number. It seemed weird to give my credit card number for a transaction in which no money was changing hands. So I didn’t, and I gave up and waited to see if I’d get a response to my inquiry sent to info@gregabbott.com.

Sure enough, my answer came in a cordial 11:20 a.m. email from Peyton at Texans for Greg Abbott:

“Mr. Herman, Thank you for contacting Texans for Greg Abbott about our Astros flag contest. No contribution is required to be entered into the contest. Based on your email, it appears you wish to be entered, so we will do that now. The contest ends Dec. 1., 2017, and we will contact the winner the day after the drawing. Thank you and have a great day.”

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: Our Lone Star Politics page brings Capitol news to your Facebook feed

Well, thank you, Peyton. And you have a great day, too. And any day I have a chance, at no cost, to win sports memorabilia is a great day. And it will be even greater if I win. FYI, several readers told me they got the exact same response, so that must be the form email that’s going out.

I still think it’s kind of weird to raffle off, for political fundraising purposes, something with a value based on the fact that it was displayed on a state-owned building. But if you’re going to do that, it’s best to do it legally. Good for you, Gov. Abbott.

Let me take this opportunity to renew my call for lots of folks (perhaps including Abbott nonsupporters) to take advantage of this no-cost offer to win the Astros flag. That email address again is info@gregabbott.com.

It might be fun to display the flag next to a banner supporting Abbott’s Democratic challenger, assuming the Democrats come up with one. Did I mention that the email address is info@gregabbott.com?

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Opinion

TWO VIEWS: Democracy? Bag it, say the Republicans
TWO VIEWS: Democracy? Bag it, say the Republicans

The urgent love Texas Republicans feel for plastic bags is a mystery. Let’s look, though. Maybe there’s a clue in the trail left by former Texas congressman Tom Loeffler all the way back in the 1980s. The game is afoot — literally. As a candidate for governor back in 1986, Loeffler confessed that he had worn plastic shower caps on...
Letters to the editor: Jan. 22, 2018

Re: Jan. 18 article, “Expo Center trimmed from PSV’s list of Austin MLS stadium sites.” The possibility of Butler Shores being decimated for a soccer stadium worries me. I am absolutely against such a move. These negotiations appear to be similar to the bullying of Austin that Uber and Lyft attempted. Butler Shores, at the confluence...
TWO VIEWS: Why Supreme Court should rule against bag ban
TWO VIEWS: Why Supreme Court should rule against bag ban

Shoppers might soon discover that the grocery store is less expensive and more convenient. Two weeks ago, the Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case questioning the legitimacy of municipal bans on plastic bags. If justices reaffirm an appellate court ruling, consumers will be unburdened from this clear example of government overreach. At...
Opinion: What is the real message of #MeToo?

The feminist website Babe published an account of a date gone bad. The pushback has been swift and sharp. I share some of the concerns of the critics, but I also think young women are sending a message that is being missed. The account by the anonymous “Grace” about a bad date with comedian Aziz Ansari was, if not “3,000 words of...
Lacking minorities, state boards are ill-prepared to serve all Texans
Lacking minorities, state boards are ill-prepared to serve all Texans

Gov. Greg Abbott should look at fairness, justice and best practices — along with qualifications — in making appointments to state boards and commissions. Given his record, that clearly is not happening. If those measures were used, Abbott’s appointments would better reflect the ethnic, racial and gender diversity of Texas. They don&rsquo...
More Stories