Donations of deer semen make up majority of contributions in Texas candidate's race: report

A candidate in the race for a South Texas state House seat has reportedly received $87,500 in campaign donations — more than half of which is made up of deer semen.

The Dallas News reported Thursday that Ana Lisa Garza, a district court judge running a primary challenge against eight-term Democrat Ryan Guillen, has received $51,000 in in-kind donations to her campaign, listed as individual donations of frozen deer semen straws.

The containers are reportedly a common way for deer breeders in the state to donate to political campaigns. Garza's campaign has valued the straws at $1,000 each.

Fred Gonzalez, a Texas deer breeder who serves as treasurer of the Texas Deer Association, told the Dallas News that the group’s political action committee has received more than $975,000 in deer semen donations since 2006, and has given more than $885,000 in the same period of time.

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“Semen is a very common way for us to donate,” Gonzalez told the paper. “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.”

Straws from bucks named Bandit, Sweet Dreams and Gladiator Sunset were among the donations listed.

The group does not give the semen directly to the campaign, but accepts the straw donations and sells them at auction. In the case of Garza’s campaign, Gonzalez said the straw donations were sold as one lot. Garza’s campaign finance forms list the donations from the individual breeders, according to the paper.

Buck Wood, a campaign finance and ethics attorney, told the Dallas News that the donations technically were not “in-kind” since the money, not the semen, was given to the campaign, but that it does not raise any ethical or legal concerns.

“If they’d given her the straws, that would have been an in-kind donation,” he said. In-kind donations usually cover things like campaign advertising or event space.

Guillen, the lawmaker Garza is running to unseat, ran unopposed in the last two elections and received 100 percent of both the primary and general election vote, making the March 6 primary a tough challenge for Garza.