An Open Letter To Susan Combs

Dear Comptroller Combs,

I read with great interest an account of your recent comments to our delegation at the Republican National Convention, especially your remarks regarding the use of litigation by the State of Texas to protect our liberty and the Texas way of life against intrusion by the Federal government. In an article posted on a Dallas Morning News blog, you are quoted as saying “Sue baby sue, I want to say let’s just keep suing those guys” and “By the way, we tort reformers still do like to sue the fed. It’s very different.”

With all due respect, I must take some exception with these comments.

Like you, I abhor the gross abuses of power and disregard for the Constitution, especially the 10th Amendment, by President Obama and his administration. However, I take no joy in having to use the civil justice system, as established in the Constitution by our founding fathers, in order to protect the rights and livelihoods of Texans.

Our state’s use of litigation was done out of necessity as a direct result of the wrongdoing of Federal officials. I would have much preferred that these officials, including President Obama, had not acted in such a manner that overstepped the limited authority of the Federal government. Unfortunately they did, and our only recourse was through the civil justice system. While not all of our state’s attempts to hold the Federal government accountable have been successful, such as our valiant attempts to overturn the Obamacare tax, all of these lawsuits were meritorious and worthy of consideration.

Just as it is imperative for the courts to be open to the State of Texas to hold the Federal government and President Obama accountable for their abuses, it is imperative that our courts be open to individuals, families, and businesses that have been harmed as a result of the negligence or willful misconduct of another. Those who have been harmed don’t derive any joy from going to the courthouse and filing a lawsuit. They would much rather not be in a situation where litigation is a consideration, let alone a reality. Instead, like our state has been forced to do all too often, they go to the courts because they have nowhere else to go.

In a perfect world, nobody would engage in conduct that harms others or, when they did, they would immediately take full responsibility for their actions and adequately compensate those harmed. In this same perfect world, the Federal government would abide by the Constitution and respect the 10th amendment rights of Texas.

As you well know, we do not live in a perfect world. We have a Federal government run amok, with no regard for the rule of law. People sometimes aren’t as careful as they should be and cause accidents. Greed causes some to take advantage of others. Thankfully, Attorney General Abbott and his staff are able and willing to go to court and defend the rights of Texans, including our right to have fair and secure elections, against an obstinate Obama administration. And thankfully, those who have been harmed have a civil justice system available to them where their advocates can hold those responsible for wrongdoing accountable for their actions.

Make no mistake- there is absolutely NO difference between Attorney General Abbott going to court to defend the rights of Texans and a private attorney going to court to stand up for those who have been harmed. Texans would and should be outraged if, under the guise of “tort reform”, the Obama administration sought to limit Texas’ access to the courts because they simply did not want to be held accountable for their numerous abuses of power. The same goes if the Obama administration conjured up an imaginary crisis of “lawsuit abuse” brought about by an alleged flood of “frivolous lawsuits” filed by Texas because some our lawsuits against them have been unsuccessful.

Likewise, Texans should be outraged when special interests attempt to pass so called “tort reform” that limits the ability of an injured person with a legitimate claim to access the courts. Those who file truly meritless lawsuits should be sanctioned under the strict laws we have in Texas that prevent and punish frivolous lawsuits. However, the vast majority of “tort reform” only works to protect those responsible for wrongdoing from being held accountable for their behavior and has nothing at all to do with preventing actual abuse of our courts.

Again, I join you in applauding Attorney General Abbott and his office for vigorously defending the rights of Texans in our courts against the Obama administration. Just as we must hold the Obama administration accountable for its wrongdoing against Texas and Texas citizens and businesses, we must also ensure that average Texans who have been harmed have access to the courts in order to hold those who harmed them accountable for their actions.

Sincerely,

Mark McCaig
President, Texans For Individual Rights

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The Mark McCaig Show for 8/26/12: A Conversation with David “Big Jolly” Jennings

This week on the Mark McCaig show, Mark was joined by popular conservative blogger David Jennings of bigjollypolitics.com. Mark and David talked about the growth and influence of blogging and citizen journalism, the upcoming elections, and David’s thoughts on the current state of the Republican Party.

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TXIR Denounces Attacks On Tea Party by TLR Megadonor Simmons’ Spokesman

Texans For Individual Rights (TXIR) today denounced comments by Chuck McDonald, spokesman for Texans For Lawsuit Reform megadonor Harold Simmons, attacking “Tea Party” activists. In a blog post, McDonald expressed his belief that the Tea Party “doesn’t have any problem with raising tax dollars to finance a civil war.” McDonald’s blog post, which also insinuates that “Tea Party” activists are “lunatics” and unpatriotic, can be viewed at http://mcdonaldprblog.com/?p=37.

Mr. McDonald’s malicious attacks on the Tea Party and grassroots activists who dedicate their prescious time and resources to promoting the cause of liberty are disgusting and wholly meritless. These attacks provide further evidence that wealthy powerbrokers such as Harold Simmons and their front groups like Texans For Lawsuit Reform view the Tea Party as a threat to their political power and will do anything possible to marginalize the Tea Party and grassroots conservative activists in order to maintain their stranglehold around Texas government.

McDonald serves as spokesman for Dallas businessman Harold Simmons, who is one of the largest donors to Texans For Lawsuit Reform. Simmons also donated $1 million to a “SuperPAC” supporting David Dewhurst that ran controversial ads attacking Ted Cruz that were widely criticized by Tea Party activists across Texas. The Dallas Morning News reported last week that McDonald will also begin assisting the campaign of Democrat Paul Sadler in his race for the United States Senate against Ted Cruz.

Last month, we discovered that Simmons, through his Harold Simmons Foundation, has made financial contributions to a number of very liberal organizations, including ACORN.

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The Mark McCaig Show for 8/19/2012: TDI Scandal and Insurance Reform

This week on the Mark McCaig show, Mark was joined by Alex Winslow of the organization Texas Watch. Mark and Alex talked about the recent scandal involving the decision by officials at the Texas Department of Insurance to prevent citizen input from being received by the Department. Mark and Alex also talk about the controversy surrounding Progressive Insurance and their mistreatment of a grieving family and how a Texas Supreme Court decision makes this possible in Texas, as well as a discussion about how the Constitutional right to a trial by jury is under attack in Texas.

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Protecting Insurance Companies At Your Expense

Matt Fisher’s story about his family’s horrible experience with Progressive Insurance has made the rounds throughout the internet and the conservative blogosphere. Fisher, who is involved with Glenn Beck’s internet operation, recently wrote about how Progressive became involved in legal action on behalf of a negligent driver that caused an accident that killed Fisher’s sister, a Progressive policyholder.

Fisher’s sister, you see, had “underinsured motorist” coverage on her insurance policy and the driver that caused the accident that killed her was not adequately insured. Progressive, instead of paying benefits on the “underinsured motorist” policy like they should have, forced the victim’s family to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver in order to collect on her Progressive policy. Progressive then assisted in the legal defense of the negligent driver in order to limit their financial liability under the victim’s (their customer) policy.

This story, while tragic, is not isolated. Many insurance companies would rather go to extreme lengths to deny their customers benefits under their policies than fulfill their legal obligations without a fight. In 2006, the Texas Supreme Court issued a ruling in Brainard v. Trinity Universal Insurance Company that significantly harmed the of Texas policyholders to collect payments due to them under an uninsured/underinsured motorist policy. This activist decision by the Texas Supreme Court now requires a policyholder to pursue wasteful and unnecessary litigation against the negligent party before the insurance carrier is obligated to pay proceeds under an uninsured/underinsured motorist policy.

Shortly after the Texas Supreme Court issued this ruling, State Rep. John Smithee (R-Amarillo) filed HB 2013 in an attempt to hold policyholders with legitimate claims and eliminate the requirement for unnecessary litigation. Unfortunately, this legislation was strongly opposed by the insurance industry and their lobbyists and the bill died. Notably, this legislation was also opposed by “tort reform” groups that claim to support legislation to eliminate unnecessary lawsuits. This provided yet more proof that the “tort reform” lobby is more concerned about protecting the financial interests of their financial backers instead of improving the civil justice system.

The outrage against Progressive Insurance for their treatment of Matt Fisher’s family is well deserved. However, we must also remember that special interest groups such as “Texans For Lawsuit Reform” are responsible for wrongdoers for being able to get away with this kind of bad behavior.

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The Mark McCaig Show for 8/12/2012: Meet Paul Ryan

This week, Mark discussed the selection of Congressman Paul Ryan to be Mitt Romney’s Vice-Presidential running mate.  GOP Strategist Matt Mackowiak joined Mark to talk about Congressman Ryan and the impact of his presence on the Republican Presidential ticket.

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The Mark McCaig Show for 8/5/2012: Runoff Recap

This week, Mark was joined by Russell Martinez (State Republican Executive Committeeman and Walker County GOP Chairman) and Darcy Kahrhoff (Katy TEA Party President) to review the results from the runoff election and the impact the “TEA Party” had on the election. Later, Mark was joined by Steve Stockman, Republican nominee for Congressional District 36.

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We’re #1!

Texans For Individual Rights (TXIR) announced today (8/6/2012) that its #StopTLR project, aimed at educating Conservative Texans about the true motives behind the special interest group Texans For Lawsuit Reform (TLR), has now become the most “liked” Facebook page on Texas politics and public policy. As of 10 a.m. today, #StopTLR’s Facebook page had 44,420 “likes”, surpassing the Facebook page of “Texans For Fiscal Responsibility” (42,493 “likes”).

In just three and a half months, #StopTLR has received such an overwhelmingly positive response that our Facebook page has become far more popular than those of more established conservative organizations. The fact that our Facebook page is now the most popular page dealing with Texas political issues is a testament to the fact that grassroots conservatives across Texas are hungry for the truth about TLR’s special interest agenda and self-interested backers and are eager to end TLR’s toxic influence over our state government.

As a matter of comparison, other top Facebook pages on Texas politics include those of the Texas Alliance For Life (22,165 “likes”), the Texas Tribune (20,249 “likes”), the Republican Party of Texas (18,342 “likes”), the Texas Democratic Party (11,857 “likes”), Texas Watch (5,514 “likes”), Texas Eagle Forum (3,795 “likes”), and Americans For Prosperity- Texas (2,079 “likes”). #StopTLR’s Facebook page also has more than twice as many “likes” as the Facebook page of Texans For Lawsuit Reform.

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Texas Voters Soundly Reject TLR Backed Candidates

Texans For Individual Rights (TXIR) today expressed deep appreciation for the message sent by Republican primary voters rejecting candidates endorsed and funded by the special interest group Texans For Lawsuit Reform. A majority of the candidates endorsed by Texans for Lawsuit Reform in the Republican primary runoff were defeated. Of TLR’s “victories”, one was a Railroad Commission race that did not involve civil justice issues. Another TLR “victory” was in Senate District 25, where TLR-endorsed candidate Dr. Donna Campbell publicly distanced herself from TLR and only received its endorsement after she bested a candidate recruited and funded by TLR in the May primary.

In a major upset, TLR-backed Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina was defeated by former Judge John Devine, who has also worked as a Plaintiffs’ trial lawyer. Despite TLR and its donors spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in an attempt to smear Judge Devine’s personal and professional reputations and question his conservative credentials, Republican voters rejected TLR’s candidate and chose Judge Devine. TLR also endorsed State Representatives Sid Miller, Chuck Hopson, and Jim Landtroop, who were each defeated in their re-election bids.

Texans For Lawsuit Reform’s leadership and donors were also extraordinarily supportive of Lt. Governor David Dewhurst’s failed bid for the U.S. Senate. This pitted TLR against Ted Cruz, whose “tea party” fueled campaign scored a decisive victory that sent shockwaves across America. Major donors to TLR accounted for the vast majority of the funds raised by the “Texas Conservatives Fund”, a SuperPAC that supported Dewhurst’s senate bid and paid for several controversial negative advertisements against Cruz.

The conservative grassroots that showed up to the polls in overwhelming numbers to vote for Ted Cruz have a long memory and will not forget the lengths to which those behind TLR went to denigrate and belittle them and the cause of limited, Constitutional government. Nor will these energized activists forget that those behind TLR were also behind the despicable advertising that attempted to link Ted Cruz to the suicide of a young man. Every day, more and more members of the Texas conservative grassroots wake up to the reality that TLR and the Texas political establishment are one in the same, fighting against the grassroots and the core conservative principles they hold dear.

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