The following is a copy of a letter sent by Texans For Individual Rights President Mark McCaig to Dick Weekley, Chairman and CEO of Texans For Lawsuit Reform, in response to a recent mailer sent to Republican activists by TLR. We will update this post when/if Mr. Weekley responds.
Dear Mr. Weekley,
I am in receipt of a package sent by Texans For Lawsuit Reform to me and other Republican activists across Texas. This package contains a letter (see attached) signed by you that makes a number of misleading statements, a copy of your organization’s latest newsletter, and a response form to collect information that will presumably be used to solicit financial contributions from these Republican activists in the future.
Your letter alleges that “personal injury trial lawyers” frequently disguise themselves as “conservatives” in efforts to “undermine” tort reforms. I am a proud trial lawyer and I know of no “personal injury trial lawyers” that are disguising themselves as conservatives. I can assure you that my conservatism is no ruse. I believe in limited government, free markets, and the principles set forth in the United States Constitution. I am also a longtime activist for conservative causes and candidates, serving as a Republican precinct chairman and formerly as a member of the State Republican Executive committee.
During the 2012 general election cycle, I personally contributed $2,500 to the Harris County Republican Party. You gave them nothing, even though you reside in Harris County and the Party desperately needed the money to support candidates up and down the ballot. In fact, in the recent special election for State Senate District 6 that featured two excellent Republican candidates- who also happened to be an African-American man and a Latina woman- you contributed $2,500 to liberal Democrat Carol Alvarado’s campaign. Rep. Alvarado has established herself as an extremely liberal member of the Texas House of Representatives who has consistently promoted a pro-abortion and anti-taxpayer agenda during her tenure in public office. While many of the same Republican activists that you targeted with your recent mailer were working to support the conservative Republican candidates, you were spending money to undermine their efforts.
This recent special election is far from the only example of the disdain for grassroots conservatives that you and your organization have demonstrated. In addition to the thousands of dollars in contributions you have personally made to a host of other liberal Democrats, Texans For Lawsuit Reform has contributed over $3 million to Democratic candidates. These include contributions that TLR has made to Democrats against Republican opponents in general elections.
There have also been numerous instances where you, Texans For Lawsuit Reform, and/or TLR’s major donors have worked against grassroots conservatives in Republican primaries. The most notable example of this is the recent United States Senate primary between Ted Cruz and Lt. Governor David Dewhurst. You, along with most of TLR’s top leadership and major donors, made significant financial contributions to Lt. Governor Dewhurst’s Senate campaign or SuperPACs that supported his candidacy.
While grassroots conservatives across Texas rallied behind Senator Cruz, who has become one of the most articulate voices for ideological conservatism in the entire nation, you helped bankroll despicable and baseless smears against him. Considering this history, it is hardly a surprise that many major donors to TLR are also major donors to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads SuperPAC that has announced plans to spend heavily in Republican primaries to defeat candidates backed by grassroots conservatives.
Your letter also makes the assertion that “tort reform is rooted in bedrock conservative principles” without any explanation or proof whatsoever. While it is unclear to me what constitutes “bedrock conservative principles” in the eyes of somebody like yourself who has funded liberal Democrats against conservative Republican challengers and bankrolled vicious attacks on “Tea Party” backed candidates, I do know that your idea of “reform” has nothing to do with the “bedrock conservative principles” held dear by those (including myself) who are active in the conservative grassroots.
Our “bedrock conservative principles” include personal responsibility and accountability. This means that if your wrongful conduct causes harm to somebody, you need to be held accountable for your actions. This should apply to everybody, ranging from average citizens to wealthy political donors to multi-billion dollar corporations. This does not mean passing laws that create special rules for certain favored classes or industries. Nor does it mean passing laws that result in taxpayers having pay for the medical care of those injured as the result of the wrongdoing of another instead of making the wrongdoer (or their insurance carrier) pay. Nor does it mean supporting judicial activism in order to create law that the legislature won’t.
These “bedrock conservative principles” also include strict adherence to the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Texas. This includes the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to a civil trial by jury. It also includes the provisions of the Texas Constitution which state that “All courts shall be open, and every person for an injury done him, in his lands, goods, person or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law” and that “The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate.”
You also state that “tort reform” has been a “strong plank in the GOP platform for many years.” Just for clarification, there is a plank in the current Republican Party of Texas Platform entitled “Frivolous Lawsuits” that states “We support further reform to discourage frivolous lawsuits. We oppose the abusive use of class action lawsuits.” I am in complete agreement with this plank.
I fully support laws that deter frivolous lawsuits and punish those who file them, and I am willing to work with you or anybody else to support laws that prevent and punish real lawsuit abuse. This includes abuse by attorneys who charge hourly fees for their work and profit from the filing of frivolous or otherwise dilatory motions that serve no legitimate purpose. However, I do not support the type of “reform” advocated by you and your organization that serves only to undermine the Constitutional rights of those with legitimate claims and protect wrongdoers from being held fully accountable for their misconduct while doing nothing to discourage actual lawsuit abuse.
Conveniently, your letter leaves out the planks of the Republican Party of Texas platform that support the use of the civil justice system to protect innocent human life (which, by the way, is another actual “bedrock conservative principle” that you seem to have difficulty grasping). You may recall a letter I sent to your organization several months ago asking for your help in promoting legislation that would accomplish some of these pro-life goals outlined in the Republican platform. I am still awaiting your response and would still appreciate your assistance in advancing pro-life goals. As an aside, you should also know that many of the Republican activists you sent your mailer to are staunchly pro-life and would be disgusted to know that Mike Hull, who is currently a registered lobbyist for TLR and has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by TLR for lobbying and legal work, has testified before the legislature many times against bills that were strongly supported by the pro-life community.
Finally, your mailer contains a response form requesting information that will presumably be used to solicit funds from these Republican activists in the future. Seeing as how TLR has historically been funded by a small group of some of the deepest pockets in Texas, I must wonder if this information is being collected because some of your big donors are tired of having their money squandered. They are certainly well aware that TLR-backed candidates lost a record number of races in Republican primaries this election cycle and that the support of TLR and its major backers is becoming more and more of a liability to candidates. Many Republicans also know that had it not been for TLR’s disruptive conduct within Mark Shelton’s campaign (which I also personally supported financially), he would very likely have defeated liberal State Senator Wendy Davis.
It is foolish to think that active grassroots conservatives will part with their hard earned money to finance an organization that has worked against them in so many ways. They are smart enough to know that their money will not be used to support a conservative cause, but will rather be used for expenditures such as the exorbitant salary of Dick Trabulsi, TLR’s President who is a longtime Democratic activist and donor who has supported the likes of Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, and Bill Clinton. If you were at all interested in being honest with Republican activists about your organization, you would have also included a copy of TLR’s December, 2010 newsletter in which Mr. Trabulsi expresses his desire to have Democrats in Texas “become competitive again” and be “in a position of strength to influence public policy.” Needless to say, the Republican activists you mailed would strongly disagree with these sentiments and would have absolutely no interest in supporting an organization led by a man who holds these views.
Grassroots conservatives are not going to knowingly pay the salaries of Mr. Trabulsi and the legion of TLR lobbyists which also includes the aforementioned Mike Hull, former Democratic State Representative Hugo Berlanga, and Keith Strama, the brother of Democratic State Representative Mark Strama and nephew of Dick Trabulsi. Instead they know that their money is better spent supporting “Tea Party” groups, Republican Party organizations, and individual candidates that are truly dedicated to advancing their shared conservative principles. Any attempt to solicit funds from hardworking grassroots conservative activists under the false pretense that TLR supports conservative values and candidates is shameful and morally repugnant.
There is no doubt in my mind that the vast majority of the Republican activists who received this mailer will place it in the garbage where it belongs. They are not the fools you think them to be. Every day, more Texas conservatives are coming to the realization that TLR and its major donors are attempting to use them as pawns in a political game designed to expand the power of the political elite. They are active in the political process to help promote true conservative principles and fight back against the political establishment that is embodied by Texans For Lawsuit Reform.
I look forward to continuing to shine the light on Texans For Lawsuit Reform and its major donors. It is clear that my efforts are succeeding and you know it. After all, why else would you have gone to the considerable expense of sending this mailer? These expenditures are of no concern to me as the truth is far more powerful than money and lies.
President, Texans For Individual Rights
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