Long considered reliable donors to the Democratic Party, trials lawyers have begun putting their financial resources into high-profile Republican primary races this election cycle. Some trial lawyer big dollars are flowing into the coffers of Lieutenant Governor-hopeful Jerry Patterson.
On the most recent filing with the Texas Ethics Commission, Patterson reported taking nearly $100,000 from trial lawyers — more than a third of his total fundraising for the period.
Another $84,000 in trial lawyer money was contributed to a separate political action committee which was formed with the stated goal to oppose Patterson rival Dan Patrick. Patrick’s campaign team has pointed to numerous instances of the independent PAC using substantially similar language and themes to attack Patrick as has been used by Patterson.
Speaking on a Houston radio show last week, Patterson told host Michael Berry that his attacks on Patrick were the result of information from “a very well-known elected Democrat in Harris County.” Patterson did not name the Democrat on the show.
Responding to questions from Breitbart Texas, Patterson’s campaign said they did not know the Democrat officeholder’s name, only that the source of their attacks had been described to them in that way.
Campaign manager Chris Elam did not answer questions about Patterson’s trial lawyer funding.
In a press release, Patrick said he was “shocked” to learn that Patterson would “work with trial lawyers and Democrat donors” in this GOP primary campaign.
Patterson’s trial lawyer support is coming from Edward Fisher, Ashley Fisher, Paul Ferguson, David Wilson, Djuana Parks, Broadus Spivey, Steve Bresnen, Lee Woods and Bryan Blevins. According to voter files, all have varying levels of Democratic Party voting histories except Woods.
Bresnen is a lobbyist for the Texas Trial Lawyers Association (TTLA) and was one of Patterson’s earliest contributors. Similarly, much of the funding to the anti-Patrick political action committee came from employees of the Gallagher Law Firm, which headed by the former president of the TTLA.
It has been widely reported that trial lawyers are trying to make inroads to the GOP by funding three challengers to sitting conservative Supreme Court justices.
A spokeswoman for Texans for Lawsuit Reform told Breitbart Texas that the organization was concerned by the trials lawyers’ “attempting to infiltrate the Republican Party” in the Supreme Court races, but had no comment on funding in the lieutenant governor contest.
Follow Michael Quinn Sullivan on Twitter @MQSullivan
UPDATE: Late in the day, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson sent the following comment to Breitbart Texas:
Poor Dan Patrick. He has no answer for the message about his knowingly and unlawfully “harboring by employment” eight illegal aliens, so he now tries to make an issue of the messenger. Regarding my contributions from plaintiff and defense lawyers, I only wish I had received as much money as they have contributed to other Republicans including Governor Perry. I’m also a Republican who believes in the Bill of Rights, all of it, including the 7th amendment which states “In suits at common law…the right of trial by jury shall be preserved”. Obfuscation and hypocrisy, thy name is Dan Patrick.