The National Reined Cow Horse Association, organizer of the Snaffle Bit Futurity, an annual cowboying contest in Fort Worth that carries $1.1 million in payouts, wanted some government help: The group thought the contest and others it hosts might qualify for money from the state’s Major Events Reimbursement Program. Run out of Gov. Greg Abbott’s office, the program is meant to attract economic activity to Texas, and by the association’s reckoning, its Texas events have an economic impact of about $10 million.
To qualify for the state subsidy, however, the association needed lawmakers to add the organization to a select list that includes the National Football League, NASCAR, the Academy of Country Music, the Commission on Presidential Debates and Formula One.
To navigate the Capitol, officials with the association — headquartered in the small North Texas town of Pilot Point — needed some help. In early March, they signed Daniel Hodge, a former Abbott aide turned lobbyist, to a contract worth as much as $150,000, as they set about promoting House Bill 2402, which proposed adding the association to the catalog of qualifying groups for the state subsidy.