I refer, of course, to Michael Quinn Sullivan of Empower Texans, an organization that is known for rating legislators according to their voting records and seeking to support or defeat those whose conservative bona fides are suspect. As a result, Sullivan is one of the most feared figures in the Capitol. (For background, read Nate Blakeslee’s profile from the January 2013 issue here.) He is currently engaged in a long-running dispute with the Texas Ethics Commission, which has fined Sullivan a total of $10,000 for failing to register as a lobbyist, a trade he insists he does not practice.

The fine will have little financial impact upon Sullivan, whose benefactor, Midland oil zillionaire Tim Dunn, could recoup enough money from his investments to pay off Sullivan’s obligation in the time it takes to write this sentence. Sullivan has fought the commission tooth and toenail for months, until, finally, commissioners were “left with the inescapable conclusion that Sullivan and Empower Texans have destroyed several thousand e-mails sent to members of the Legislature during 2010 and 2011.” Furthemore, according to the TEC, Sullivan refused to answer questions under a lawful subpoena. The case is likely to wind up in federal district court, which is what Sullivan wants to have happen.

(Photograph by Jeff Wilson)