A Texas Democratic candidate for a South Texas state representative seat is financing her campaign in an unusual way by raking in donations of deer semen. More than half of her fundraising came from the “in kind” donations, election reports indicate.
Of the $87,500 received by Judge Ana Lisa Garza, a Democratic candidate for the Texas State Representative District 31, $51,000 came from the donation of deer semen. The Starr County district court judge is facing an uphill battle against the incumbent legislator Ryan Guillen. The eight-term state rep. from Rio Grande City has not faced an opponent in his last two general elections, according to the Dallas Morning News.
The incumbent legislator raised significantly more money than his challenger. During the last reporting period, Guillen raised more than $100,000 and has $662,364 in cash on hand for the race.
The Texas Deer Association receives the donations of deer semen in “straws” from individual breeders. The “straws” are the term for the semen collection containers which are stored in liquid nitrogen containers. The container is sold at auction and then the proceeds are donated to the campaign.
While the donations sound unusual, it is apparently a very common way for deer breeders to make donations without having to actually give up cash.
“Semen is a very common way for us to donate,” Texas Deer Association Treasurer and deer breeder Fred Gonzalez told the Dallas newspaper. “One collection on a buck could lead to 60 straws sometimes. If you have a desirable animal, it’s a way to bring value without breaking the bank.”
The breeders judge the bucks’ antler size and shape to determine which “straws” to buy. Some of the semen collections came from deer names “Gladiator Sunset, Sweet Dreams, and Bandit,” the article states.
Over a ten-year period running from 2006 to 2016, the Texas Deer Association received nearly a million dollars in semen donations. Of that, it paid out $885,695 to political campaigns and other interest groups.
The article points out that the association did not make the donations to Garza’s campaign. The association appears to have facilitated the conversion of the donated straws to cash for the candidate so the donations are reported as individual in-kind campaign donations on the Texas Ethics Commission campaign finance reports.
However, the association has made donations of the deer semen proceeds to numerous candidates.
The Dallas Morning News lists the top ten recipients between 2006 and 2016:
Quorum Report Editor Scott Braddock tweeted a question asking if this is common practice in other states. The tweet received a wide range of comments. He does not indicate which candidate received this particular semen donation.
— Scott Braddock (@scottbraddock) February 28, 2018
Despite the uphill battle faced by Garza, Gonzalez says he made the contribution because the judge understands the deer breeders’ impact on the economy of the state.
“I grew up where she grew up. I hunted with her husband,” he said. “Some people don’t like deer breeders. Some people don’t understand the benefit that we provide to Texas and small landowners.”