This week on the Mark McCaig Show, Mark was joined by blogger David Jennings of BigJollyPolitics.com to discuss the “Early to Rise” proposal that would levy a tax increase through the Harris County Department of Education to create a pot of money (approx. $30 million/year) to subsidize training for day care workers. Later, Mark was joined by Terri Hall of Texans United for Reform and Freedom (Texas TURF) to discuss the transportation funding bill passed by the legislature.
This week on the Mark McCaig show, Mark was joined by conservative activist Jeremy Blosser to discuss recent developments regarding the rules of the Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of Texas. Mark and Jeremy also discussed the impact rules have on grassroots engagement in the political process. Mark also discussed a recent class action lawsuit filed by the Texas Public Policy Foundation and other organizations that were harmed by the wrongdoing of the IRS and the importance of open courts to holding wrongdoers accountable.
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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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This week on the Mark McCaig show, Mark discussed how grassroots conservatives must be willing to work in order to achieve conservative change in government. Mark was also joined by Dave Nalle of the Republican Liberty Caucus to discuss Chris Christie’s recent comments demonizing Sen. Rand Paul and liberty oriented Republicans.