Expenditures by the Nathan Hecht, Jeff Brown, and Phil Johnson Campaigns Appear to Violate State Law

Campaign finance reports filed with the Texas Ethics Commission earlier this week by the campaigns of Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht and Justices Jeff Brown and Phil Johnson reflect expenditures by each campaign that may be in violation of Texas campaign finance laws. The Hecht, Brown, and Johnson campaigns each reported a $7,000 contribution to the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) Political Action Committee. According to a report by blogger David Jennings of BigJollyPolitics.com, the contributions to the YCT PAC are for the purpose of subsidizing an “endorsement slate” mailer by the organization.

These contributions to the YCT PAC appear to be in violation of a state law. Section 253.1611(b) of the Texas Election Code states:

“A judicial candidate or a specific-purpose committee for supporting or opposing a judicial candidate may not use a political contribution to knowingly make political contributions to a political committee in connection with a primary election.”

These questionable contributions to the YCT PAC came just weeks after former Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina was sanctioned for similar activity. Medina, who was defeated in the 2012 Republican Primary, was recently ordered to pay $1,000 by the Texas Ethics Commission after the Commission found credible evidence that Medina violated section 253.1611(b) of the Texas Election Code, among other violations.

In addition to receiving $7,000 contributions from other candidates endorsed by YCT, the YCT PAC also reported a $12,000 contribution from the Empower Texans PAC. As we reported last month, Empower Texans (also known as Texans For Fiscal Responsibility) endorsed Hecht, Brown, and Johnson despite their organization’s stated endorsement policy requiring a candidate to complete a questionnaire to be eligible to receive an endorsement. After we raised questions about their endorsement process, Empower Texans altered their endorsement policy and acknowledged that Hecht, Brown, or Johnson had not completed a questionnaire or interviewed with their organization prior to receiving their endorsement. Hecht, Brown, and Johnson each face an opponent in the March 4th, 2014 Republican Primary.

The campaign finance report from the Hecht campaign reflecting a $7,000 contribution to the YCT PAC can be viewed here

The campaign finance report from the Brown campaign reflecting a $7,000 contribution to the YCT PAC can be viewed here

The campaign finance report from the Johnson campaign reflecting a $7,000 contribution to the YCT PAC can be viewed here

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Are “Texans For Fiscal Responsibility” Really “Texans For Judicial Activism”?

In 2004, voters in the City of Houston supported “Proposition 2”, a pro-taxpayer ballot referendum to cap city revenues. In a piece written shortly before Proposition 2 was voted on, prominent taxpayer advocate Bob Lemer wrote a piece in support of the referendum, comparing it to a “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” passed in Colorado in 1992 that resulted in significant benefits to that state’s economy.

Long story short- the powers that be at Houston City Hall did everything in their power to thwart the will of the voters that supported Proposition 2. This resulted in a group of concerned citizens having to sue the liberal city leadership and fight a battle at the courthouse on behalf of Houston taxpayers.

The legal battle lasted several years and ended up at the Texas Supreme Court. Finally, in 2011, the Texas Supreme Court issued a ruling. In a unanimous opinion (with one Justice not participating), the Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of the City of Houston and dismissed the lawsuit brought by the concerned citizens.

One might think the sort of pro-taxpayer advocacy engaged in by the supporters of “Proposition 2” would be right up the alley of the Austin advocacy group “Texans For Fiscal Responsibility” (also known as “Empower Texans”). However, this doesn’t seem to be the case.

Texas elects its Supreme Court and two of the Justices that ruled against taxpayers in the “Proposition 2” lawsuit are up for re-election in 2014. Texans For Fiscal Responsibility, like many organizations, has announced a slate of endorsements in the 2014 primaries. On their website, Texans For Fiscal Responsibility states that “we will only consider endorsing candidates who return a signed questionnaire.” Indeed, their website features candidate questionnaires for a number of state offices on the ballot in 2014- but not for Texas Supreme Court.

Despite not publishing a candidate questionnaire for Texas Supreme Court candidates, Texans For Fiscal Responsibility just announced their endorsement of three incumbent Texas Supreme Court Justices- including two that against the taxpayer advocates. Even more curious is that when we reached out to representatives of two of the challengers to the endorsed Supreme Court Justices, they stated that they had never been asked by Texans For Fiscal Responsibility to fill out a candidate questionnaire or interview with their organization.

This raises several important questions. Did the Texas Supreme Court Justices who were endorsed by Texans For Fiscal Responsibility fill out a candidate questionnaire, which they claim is a prerequisite to receiving their endorsement? If so, was the candidate questionnaire made available to all candidates for Texas Supreme Court?

While “Texans For Fiscal Responsibility” positions itself as a grassroots conservative organization, they have engaged in some activity that is indicative of ties to the Texas political establishment. They should be open and transparent about the process they used to endorse candidates for the Texas Supreme Court and whether the process was fair and open to all candidates. Unfortunately, all signs point to their endorsements being a farce designed to benefit the incumbent Justices- even those with a proven record of ruling against taxpayers.

We will update this post with any new developments on this matter.

UPDATE: After our original post on this subject, Texans For Fiscal Responsibility altered their website to say that they only consider endorsing “candidates for legislative and executive office who return a signed questionnaire.” Now that it appears the Supreme Court incumbents they endorsed were indeed shown special treatment over other candidates for office, Texans For Fiscal Responsibility should explain to the public why these candidates were shown favoritism. Texans For Fiscal Responsibility should also say whether or not the challengers to the Supreme Court incumbents were given any opportunity to seek their endorsement.

We captured the candidate questionnaire section of their website before it was altered. You can view Texans For Fiscal Responsibility’s original standards for endorsements here.

 

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Tort Reform: Failing Average Texans for 10 Years

Supporters of the so-called “tort reform” agenda often point to Texas as an exemplar of the alleged success of laws that limit the ability of victims of medical malpractice to exercise their Constitutional right to a civil trial by jury.

The “tort reform” laws passed by the Texas legislature in 2003 have undoubtedly been a financial boon to the medical and insurance industries- the biggest proponents of such laws. Unfortunately, the financial windfalls realized by these politically powerful industries as a result of “tort reform” over the past decade have come directly from the pockets of countless voiceless Texans whose lives have been dramatically changed, if not ended, as a result of preventable medical errors.

Limits on the amount a victim of medical negligence can recover were sold to Texas voters as a way to prevent “frivolous” lawsuits from clogging Texas courts and running good doctors out of business. In reality, the arbitrary damage caps that now apply to medical malpractice lawsuits in Texas do absolutely nothing to deter truly meritless litigation.

A frivolous medical malpractice lawsuit filed in Texas today is worth exactly the same as what it was worth prior to 2003- nothing. Instead, these damage caps have the most adverse impact on those with legitimate claims who have been harmed the worst and whose cases would have the most monetary value but for “tort reform.”

Texas law has long allowed for severe sanctions, including the payment of attorney’s fees, against those who file frivolous lawsuits or otherwise abuse the judicial system. The intent of Texas’ “tort reform” laws was never to weed out just “frivolous” lawsuits, but rather to limit all medical malpractice lawsuits regardless of their merit.

Over the past decade, numerous Texans who have been harmed by medical errors have found themselves without recourse because “tort reform” has made it economically impossible for lawyers to accept legitimate medical malpractice cases. Many of these injured individuals are often forced to turn to public assistance programs, leaving taxpayers with the bill instead of the negligent medical provider.

The values of personal accountability and responsibility are frequently held up as core conservative principles. Indeed, most would agree that if one causes harm to another, even if by accident, they should be held accountable for their actions and fully compensate the injured party for the harm done to them. The passage of “tort reform” laws
in Texas has created a special class of citizens who no longer have to face the same consequences for their wrongdoing as the average Texan does.

The impact of Texas’ “tort reform” laws has also been the subject of several recent academic studies. One such study conducted by a group of researchers that included a well respected law professor at the University of Texas found that these “tort reform” laws had not measurably increased physician supply in Texas, debunking claims to the contrary by “tort reform” advocates. Another study by the same group of researchers found no evidence that Texas’ “tort reform” laws have decreased the cost of healthcare.

The Seventh Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to a civil trial by jury. Just as the founding fathers trusted the wisdom of citizen juries to listen to the facts of a case and determine a just resolution, juries today should be trusted to determine an appropriate award in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

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Voluntary Compensation Plans Must Remain Voluntary

Author’s note: The following originally appeared in the Austin American-Statesman in response to an op-ed column by Texans For Lawsuit Reform President Dick Trabulsi.

Groups engaged in the tort reform movement in Texas, most notably the special interest group Texans for Lawsuit Reform, have spent many years looking for new ways to limit the constitutional rights of individuals who have been harmed by the wrongdoing of another. One proposal that has been recently promoted by tort reform advocates concerns legislation regarding so-called “voluntary compensation plans” that could be set up in the wake of a disaster such as an oil spill or a plant explosion.

There is nothing in the law that prevents a company from setting up a voluntary compensation plan after a disaster. In fact, there are several examples of where companies have set up such plans. Companies that have caused harm to others should be encouraged to quickly and fully compensate their victims. However, voluntary compensation plans should remain truly voluntary to protect the rights of injured parties.

Unfortunately, the scheme being proposed by the tort reform lobby cannot be described as truly voluntary for injured parties. Legislation supported by the tort reform lobby in the past legislative session dealing with voluntary compensation plans should give great pause to anybody concerned about the protection of constitutional rights, particularly the guarantee in the Texas Constitution that “all courts shall be open.”

For example, these bills included provisions that would put an injured party at great financial risk if they chose not to participate in a voluntary compensation plan and chose to exercise their constitutional right to seek a trial by jury. This legislation also included numerous other procedural hurdles that would prevent an injured party from being able to bring their case before a jury. Representatives of groups representing both plaintiffs and defense attorneys vigorously opposed these bills precisely due to the chilling impact they would have on the rights of an individual with a legitimate claim.

Advocates of tort reform defend such legislation by saying that it will streamline the claims process and prevent frivolous lawsuits. In a perfect world, a wrongdoer will immediately and fully pay those they have injured. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world, and all too often wrongdoers are more concerned about limiting their liability than they are about making sure their victims are made whole.

If the voluntary compensation plan proposals supported by the tort reform lobby were to become law, wrongdoers would have a perverse incentive to offer their victims inadequate payments from a voluntary compensation plan because of the tremendous financial risk the victim would face to exercise the constitutional right to seek justice in a courtroom.

Additionally, Texas has strong laws that rightfully prevent the filing of truly frivolous lawsuits. In the rare case where a frivolous lawsuit is filed, judges can and will impose severe sanctions including awards of attorney’s fees. Legislation regarding voluntary compensation plans will not prevent a single truly frivolous lawsuit from being filed in Texas.

The courthouse is often the last place where an injured person wishes to go in order to be fully compensated for the harm done to them. All too often, though, it is the only choice they have. While voluntary compensation plans may be beneficial to injured individuals in some cases, the public cannot depend on such plans to provide proper compensation in all instances.

Texans have seen their right to a civil trial by jury diminished numerous times in recent years under the guise of lawsuit reform. We must not allow a special interest push for “voluntary compensation plans” to further erode this fundamental constitutional right.

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UPDATED: “Texans For Fiscal Responsibility” Lawyer Joe Nixon is the Poster Boy for Real Lawsuit Abuse

Through a visible presence on social media and an active speaking schedule, the group “Texans For Fiscal Responsibility” (also known as “Empower Texans”) and its President, Michael Quinn Sullivan have a high profile among many conservative activists in Texas. Sullivan and Texans For Fiscal Responsibility talk a good game, claiming to support low tax public policy and oppose “corporate welfare.” However, many of their actions indicate they are more interested in building their own power base by attacking legislators that they cannot control than they are in truly ending the culture of crony capitalism that runs rampant in Austin.

Their organization has spoken favorably of so-called “tort reform” and has helped perpetuate the myth that the “tort reform” legislation passed by the Texas legislature in recent years has had a positive impact on the Texas economy and reduced “frivolous” lawsuits. In reality, this legislation has done nothing to deter truly frivolous lawsuits and has only served to limit the Constitutional rights to access the courts for those with legitimate claims.

While “Texans For Fiscal Responsibility” apparently has no problem with supporting laws that limit the rights of others, they have been more than willing to run to the courthouse themselves. Last year, they filed a lawsuit against a now-dissolved political consulting firm alleging that the firm started a political action committee with a deceptively similar name to “Texans For Fiscal Responsibility” in order to benefit their clients. The lawsuit is currently pending in Bexar County.

In addition to their hypocrisy in going to court while opposing the rights of others to do so, “Texans For Fiscal Responsibility” hired attorney Joe Nixon- who is the poster boy for real lawsuit abuse in Texas- to represent them in their lawsuit. Nixon is a former state representative who is perhaps best known as one of the architects of the “tort reform” laws passed by the legislature in 2003. Nixon later ran for the Texas Senate with substantial funding from the special interest group Texans For Lawsuit Reform only to receive 8.65% of the vote in a race that was won by Dan Patrick.

Despite Nixon’s rhetoric in the legislature that cited “lawsuit abuse” as a justification to pass laws that limited the ability of injured individuals and families to hold wrongdoers accountable for their misconduct, Nixon’s concerns about “lawsuit abuse” did not extend to his personal law practice.

According to an opinion rendered in 2007 by an all Republican panel of the 14th Court of Appeals in the case of “Broesche v. Jacobson”, Nixon was hired by Rebecca Broesche two days before Christmas in 2002 in a long running dispute with her ex-husband over the division of property from their divorce. The opinion states that as soon as Nixon was hired, a motion for a legislative continuance was filed. A legislative continuance is a special right conferred to state legislators who are lawyers to delay lawsuits where they are counsel.

The opinion further states “Nixon never drafted any pleadings and made only one court appearance”, that “The trial court found that Broesche hired Nixon for the purpose of delay.”  Additionally, the opinion notes that the trial court found that the filing of the legislative continuance that was made possible by Broesche’s sudden hiring of Nixon and his service in an imminent legislative session was “for the purposes of delay and therefore frivolous and in bad faith.”

As a result of a “host” of misconduct by Broesche, including the “frivolous” motion for a legislative continuance made possible by Nixon’s limited involvement in the case, the court ordered an award of attorney’s fees and sanctions against Nixon’s client in the amount of $299,098.74.

The lawsuit abuse that Joe Nixon is personally familiar with as a result of his involvement in the Broesche matter is indicative of the actual lawsuit abuse that occurs in Texas courts today. This abuse tends to take the form of unnecessary delays in litigation by one of the parties or through the use of frivolous or otherwise dilatory motions. The alleged “lawsuit abuse” of a flood of frivolous lawsuits or out of control juries talked about by Nixon and groups that support the so-called “tort reform” agenda is totally fictitious and has no basis in reality. Fortunately, as evidenced by the Broesche case, judges have and use the power to sanction litigants who abuse our courts.

Empower Texans and Sullivan are also currently the subject of an ongoing probe by the Texas Ethics Commission into allegations that Empower Texans violated campaign finance laws and that Sullivan engaged in lobbying activities without being a registered lobbyist. These allegations were made in formal complaints filed by former State Representative Vicki Truitt and current State Representative Jim Keffer.

Representing Empower Texans and Sullivan in these ethics matters is none other than Joe Nixon. Quorum Report recently reported that Nixon’s co-counsel in these matters, “Trey” Trainor, had Rep. Keffer served with a subpoena issued “In the Name of the State of Texas” commanding him to appear at a Texas Ethics Commission hearing on the Empower Texans and Sullivan matters. Unfortunately for Nixon and Trainor, Keffer had previously been told by the Ethics Commission that his presence at the hearing was optional. Upon receiving the alleged “subpoena”, Keffer again inquired to the Ethics Commission and was told that Trainor had no legal basis to issue such a “subpoena.” Keffer has since filed a formal grievance with the Texas Bar against Trainor regarding the “subpoena.”

We fully support the right of “Texans For Fiscal Responsibility” and any other party who has a legitimate dispute to have their day in court. However, we would encourage “Texans For Fiscal Responsibility” and Michael Quinn Sullivan to re-examine their support of the “tort reform” agenda and their decision to hire a lawyer like Joe Nixon who is all too familiar with real lawsuit abuse in Texas courts.

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The Mark McCaig Show for 7/14/2013: Angry Mobs and Musical Chairs

This week on the Mark McCaig show, Mark was joined in studio by Felicia Cravens, founder of the Houston Tea Party Society. Felicia discussed her experience in Austin with left-wing protesters who descended upon the Capitol (some carrying interesting substances) to express their opposition to pro-life legislation. Mark and Felicia also discussed Greg Abbott’s announcement that he was running for Governor and other races in the upcoming 2014 Republican primary.

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An Open Letter to the Agenda Wise Board of Directors

Author’s note: The following correspondence was sent via e-mail to Agenda Wise directors  Michael Quinn Sullivan, Tim Dunn, and Leslie Graves on 5/21/2013. We will update this post with any responses received by Mr. Sullivan, Mr. Dunn, and/or Ms. Graves. 

Dear Mr. Sullivan, Mr. Dunn, and Ms. Graves,

According to my review of public records, the three of you compose the entirety of the Board of Directors of Agenda Wise, Inc. As you are all almost certainly aware, your employee at Agenda Wise, Daniel Greer, was recently discovered to have made a number of grossly offensive posts on Twitter. These include a post on his personal account which directed a derogatory slur towards an Austin social media consultant as well as posts made under an alias.

Even through Agenda Wise claims to be “committed to providing transparency in the Texas political discourse”, Mr. Greer also utilized a fake twitter account under the alias of “Richard Fiasco” to make an assortment of insulting and vile comments. Mr. Greer’s tweets under his “Richard Fiasco” alias included the use of vulgar and offensive language directed towards members of the Texas Legislature as well as a particularly disgusting comment about homosexuals contracting AIDS.

Screen captures of Mr. Greer’s tweets can be viewed online at http://stoptlr.com/blog/?p=402.

The pattern of language used by Mr. Greer is not representative of an isolated incident of bad judgment, a poor attempt at humor, or- as Mr. Sullivan described Mr. Greer’s comments to the Quorum Report- “an unfortunate typo.” Rather, Mr. Greer’s comments are indicative of a sick and hate filled man who does not deserve to participate in the political discourse in Texas.

In sworn deposition testimony given on October 12, 2012, Mr. Greer stated that he answers to the Board of Directors of Agenda Wise. Assuming that the testimony Mr. Greer gave was truthful, the decision as to whether Mr. Greer will continue to be paid to spew his hate rests in your hands. I hope that you will agree with me that Mr. Greer’s comments have no place in the political dialog in Texas. As Mr. Greer’s employer, I urge you to do the right thing and not only publicly denounce Mr. Greer’s offensive and hate filled comments but to end any and all professional associations with Mr. Greer.

I look forward to your reply to this correspondence.

Best Regards,

Mark McCaig

President, Texans For Individual Rights

UPDATE 5/23/13: The Board of Directors of Agenda Wise has released a statement on their website about Mr. Greer’s offensive comments. The statement reads as follows:

The AgendaWise Board of Directors has become aware that an employee, Daniel Greer, made “tweets” from a personal Twitter account that were in a spirit not aligned with the values of our organization. We do not support personal slurs.

We have also learned there were other derogatory statements Mr. Greer made from an anonymous account not in keeping with the values of AgendaWise, and AgendaWise does not in any way endorse them.

We support Mr. Greer’s apology as well as his expressed desire to reform.

Mr. Greer has requested, and the Board has granted, a leave of absence from AgendaWise.

The Board of Directors and staff remain fully committed to the organization’s mission of disclosing facts, educating citizens, creating transparency and promoting civic engagement.

We appreciate the statement, especially since they finally acknowledge that Mr. Greer’s comments were not merely an “unfortunate typo”, as Michael Quinn Sullivan originally stated in Greer’s defense. However, this statement raises a number of questions that the Agenda Wise board needs to answer:

1) Is the Agenda Wise board giving Mr. Greer a paid leave of absence, essentially rewarding him with a paid vacation for his reprehensible conduct? How long is the leave of absence for?

2) Has Mr. Greer made any other apologies other than the one he posted on twitter under his personal account? Has Mr. Greer apologized to the Republican legislators he slurred on his anonymous account?

3) How has Mr. Greer expressed a “desire to reform”, to whom has he expressed this desire, and what specific actions are entailed in this “reform”?

4) Why do the members of the Agenda Wise board of directors appear to desire a continued association with somebody like Mr. Greer, who demonstrated not an isolated lapse in judgment but rather a pattern of offensive and hate filled remarks?

We will continue to update this post as this situation develops.

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TLR, AgendaWise, and the Death of Intelligent Debate

Here at #StopTLR, we strive to provide factual information about special interest influence in Texas government. Since our launch just over a year ago, we’ve build a Facebook page with nearly 94,000 “likes”- making it the most popular Facebook page dealing with Texas politics and public policy.

We are strong believers in having an honest and respectful dialog about the issues facing our state, even with those who disagree with us. In fact, we have publicly challenged TLR’s leadership on various issues on multiple occasions. Unfortunately, they never responded. Nonetheless, we remain happy to have a public debate with Texans For Lawsuit Reform’s President Dick Trabulsi at any time.

It is no surprise that our work has some detractors. After all, we are calling out some of the most influential powerbrokers and wealthiest political donors in the state. It is hardly a surprise that the folks at TLR don’t like us talking about the liberal ties of its leadership, the insider deals and taxpayer handouts that have benefited some of its biggest donors, or its financial support of liberal Democrats to the tune of nearly $3.4 million.

We have also been the subject of attacks from the operation of Michael Quinn Sullivan, an Austin-based political operative. Sullivan has gained a reputation as having a rather cavalier attitude towards the truth and was recently sued for libel by a prominent businessman from the Panhandle. According to recent media reports, Sullivan is also under criminal investigation by the Travis County Attorney’s office for allegedly lobbying without being a registered lobbyist. Sullivan’s benefactor, Midland oilman Tim Dunn, has been a contributor to Texans For Lawsuit Reform.

One part of Sullivan’s operation is a political attack website called “AgendaWise”, which is run by Daniel Greer. In the words of Harvey Kronberg of the Texas political news website “Quorum Report”, “AgendaWise Executive Director Daniel Greer specializes in inflammatory stories.  A judge declared his story in a defamation lawsuit filed by Canadien’s Salem Abraham about events at a Jim Landtroop campaign event to be untrue.”

Both Greer and Justin Williamson, who does social media work for Texans For Lawsuit Reform through a social media consulting firm called Raconteur Media, are prolific users of Twitter. While we at #StopTLR and Texans For Individual Rights strive for intelligent, fact based conversation, Greer and Williamson appear to have a different ideas on how to communicate their respective messages.

The fun on Twitter began last night, when Williamson posted this tweet promoting a press release from State Senator Larry Taylor regarding the death of a bill he filed regarding the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA).

 

Taylor has come under attack from conservative activists in his district for his decision to personally campaign for liberal Democrat Carol Alvarado in her recent failed campaign for State Senate. Taylor’s bill, if passed, would likely have resulted in higher insurance premiums for policyholders in inland areas of the state to subsidize holders of insurance policies in high risk areas along the Texas coast as a result of the mandatory assessment levied on insurance carriers that was included in the bill.

At no point in any discussion did Williamson discuss the supposed merits of Taylor’s bill. He was more interested in trashing #StopTLR. Had Williamson actually taken the time to read the bill, he would have seen that the bill had nothing to do with trial lawyers or lawsuits.

Enter Daniel Greer. Despite being a vocal critic of #StopTLR, he took exception to Williamson’s tweet with this classy response:

Greer apparently sent this tweet simultaneously through a now-disabled fake twitter account under the alias “Richard Fiasco”, which Williamson caught.

The “discussion” between Williamson and Greer continued to devolve after that with various petty insults between the two, including this slam by Williamson apparently questioning Greer and Sullivan’s effectiveness during this legislative session:

Not long after this tweet (and more subsequent bickering between Williamson and Greer), Nathan Ofe joins in the fun with this jab. Ofe is a member of the Michael Quinn Sullivan network who is employed by Sullivan’s “Texans For Fiscal Responsibility.”

Even though Williamson and TLR question our conservative principles on a regular basis, Williamson was visibly angered when the tables were turned on him.

Greer, Ofe, and Williamson (all grown men, by the way) then continue their online version of a grade school name calling contest. Not to be outdone by the others, Greer then posts this now-deleted tweet directing an offensive slur at Williamson.

After hurling a few more insults at Williamson and others, Greer calls it a night and the show comes to a close.

Greer’s language is vile and is to be condemned. It speaks volumes to the character of not only Greer, but of his associates Nathan Ofe and Michael Quinn Sullivan (who has since said that Greer’s offensive tweet was a “typo”) that they not only condone but frequently participate in this style of “debate.”  Williamson and TLR (as well as Williamson’s employers at Raconteur Media, which is owned by consultant Ryan Gravatt) are hardly innocent parties- they have shown that they are more than willing to hurl baseless attacks and juvenile insults in lieu of civil discourse as well.

Last night’s “twitter fight” between Greer and Williamson is indicative of the absolute void of intellectual honesty by the Austin political establishment of which both Greer and Williamson represent. “Iron sharpens iron” and our State is better off for having vigorous debate between those with opposing viewpoints. We are firm in our beliefs and have the facts on our side. We also realize that intelligent people can- and will- disagree with us and we respect that as long as the debate is civil and remains focused on ideas and issues. We only wish that Greer and the rest of Michael Quinn Sullivan’s network as well as Williamson, Texans For Lawsuit Reform, Raconteur Media and Raconteur’s owner, Ryan Gravatt shared our commitment to respectful and civil debate.

UPDATE: This was not Daniel Greer’s first rodeo with offensive tweets. We’ve found the following gems from his now-deleted “Richard Fiasco” twitter account:

This one goes after State Senator Kel Seliger, State Rep. Charlie Geren, Speaker Joe Straus, and political consultant Bryan Eppstein:

Here is Greer’s opinion of State Representative Larry Gonzales:

And perhaps the most offensive of all:

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TLR Caught Lobbying Against Private Property Rights

According to our sources around the Texas Capitol, Texans For Lawsuit Reform and its President, longtime liberal activist Dick Trabulsi, are actively lobbying members in support of House Bill 2748. This legislation, which is the brainchild of the oil and gas industry, would significantly harm the private property rights of landowners when a company claims “common carrier” status to condemn land for a pipeline through eminent domain. HB 2748 is set to be voted on the floor of the Texas House on Friday, May 3rd.

While a broad coalition appears to be forming against HB 2748, the involvement of Trabulsi and TLR in support of the bill is troubling as TLR continues to falsely tell grassroots activists that they represent conservative values. Even worse, TLR lies to these well meaning conservatives at the same time they aggressively try to use their political power and influence at the Capitol to do great harm the conservative cause.

Those opposing HB 2748 include We Texans, the conservative advocacy group headed by Debra Medina. In a recent e-mail, We Texans blasted HB 2748 on that basis that it would empower the Texas Railroad Commission’s “complicit cooperation with pipeline companies in trampling private property rights in Texas.” The Texas Farm Bureau’s Legislative Director, Steve Pringle, describes HB 2748 as “one of the worst ideas to emerge in the Legislature this session” that “greases the skids for pipeline companies to take private property—as they used to tell so many—“because we can.” Other groups joining We Texans and the Texas Farm Bureau in opposing HB 2748 include the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, the Texas Forestry Association, the Texas Land and Mineral Owners Association, and the Texas Wildlife Association.

TLR’s support of HB 2748 once again demonstrates that this organization isn’t concerned with actual “lawsuit reform” or public policy that benefits the majority of Texans, but serves as the mouthpiece for wealthy interests that want to use the power of the government to line their pockets regardless of the impact on average Texans or a resulting erosion of Constitutional rights.

It is heartening to see so many conservative and landowner groups shine the light on HB 2748’s assault on property rights. However, it will take quick action by average Texas voters to overcome Trabulsi and TLR’s attempt to strip Texas landowners of their rights.

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The Mark McCaig Show for 3/24/13: Hey Big Spender

This week on the Mark McCaig Show guest host Felicia Cravens of the Houston Tea Party Society and FreeRadicalNetwork.com discusses out of control Federal spending, waste in the Texas budget, and how average citizens can fight for fiscal sanity.

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