Texas Trial Lawyers Not Happy with Republican Lawsuit Reforms
As Breitbart Texas reported in the lead up to the March primary, Democratic and other trial lawyers recruited and funded “Republican” candidates to run against three conservative, highly-qualified Texas Supreme Court incumbents. Two of the challengers, Joe Pool, Jr. and Robert Talton were hardly qualified for the state’s highest court. The third candidate, Justice Sharon McCally (14th Court of Appeals) was well qualified but ran a wholly ineffective campaign against the scholarly Justice Phil Johnson.
One of the trial-lawyer-recruited candidates, Joe Pool, Jr., even had the audacity to hire the Texas Democratic Party’s lawyer in his failed attempt to sue his way to a victory.
In that race, the voters overwhelmingly stood beside and re-elected the newly appointed incumbent Supreme Court Justice Jeff Brown by a margin of over 500,000 votes (72%-28%).
Only two Republicans, Greg Abbott and George P. Bush, had wider statewide margins of victory on primary night than Justice Brown.
In the other two contested incumbent Supreme Court races, Justice Phil Johnson won by 320,000 votes (64%-36%) and Chief Justice Nathan Hecht won by about 250,000 votes (60%-40%). All three of the conservative incumbents won by healthy margins.
One person stands out as a central figure in this entire scheme: millionaire Houston plaintiff’s attorney Mark Lanier of the Lanier Law Firm. While it would be difficult to call the social-conservative Lanier a Democrat, it is apparent he conspired with some of the biggest Democrat trial lawyers in Texas to mount this epic failure of a campaign.
As early as January, the Legal News Line reported that the Lanier Law Firm was backing the three challengers:
Knowing that it would be next to impossible to elect a Democrat, trial lawyers are now financing the political campaigns of Republicans seeking to usurp Texas’s current Supreme Court justices, according to a legal reform group.
In that same story, Legal News Line had Texans for Lawsuit Reform chairman Dick Trabulsi, Jr., saying, “Personal injury trial lawyers, who primarily bankroll liberal Democrats, are supporting challengers to three highly qualified and proven Supreme Court justices in this year’s Republican primary. Tellingly, all three of the challengers are, so far, almost entirely funded by one personal injury trial lawyer, Mark Lanier, and members of his law firm. Plaintiff trial lawyers are making an unprecedented attempt to regain the control of the Supreme Court that they enjoyed in the 1970s and 1980s, when Texas was known as ‘the lawsuit capital of the world’.”
First, in the case of Joe Pool, Jr., just under 75 percent of all funds raised by Pool’s campaign came from Lanier and the employees of his law firm.
Second, The Balance PAC spent over $300,000 in the primary with the sole mission of defeating the three Supreme Court incumbents, raising money through the efforts of high-powered, wealthy, Democrat mega donors Lisa Blue Baron and trial lawyer John Eddie Williams.
One of the largest donors to The Balance PAC was Christian Attorneys for Texas, a PAC that is entirely funded and controlled by Mark Lanier.
In the end, the challengers failed because their promised funding was not enough. This was compounded by two of the challenger’s lack of credible qualifications and the failure of all three candidates to use the money to build an effective campaign. Conservatives united around the three incumbents, with endorsements coming from U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) and soundly defeated all three.
Breitbart Texas also learned, in a phone conversation with Debra Medina, that Democrat plaintiff trial lawyers attempted to get her not to file for the Texas Comptroller’s race in the March Primary and run instead as an independent candidate for governor against Attorney General Greg Abbott. According to Medina, they promised significant financial backing and were hoping to draw enough of the vote from Abbott to bring Wendy Davis to a winning total. Medina declined the offer and instead filed to run for Texas Comptroller.
Democrats and trial lawyers attempted to infiltrate the Republican primary in Texas, and after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, they failed miserably. What will they try next?
Follow Bob Price on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX