Meet the Men Who Control Austin Politics!

Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR) caters to a small group of special interests and their lobbyists, a crowd known around Austin as "the owners' box." TLR's biggest backers have included recipients of taxpayer-funded handouts, the owner of a state-approved monopoly, and even the man blamed for killing Republicans' tough immigration bill.

Michael Toomey

Mike Toomey


  • Named one of Texas's top "hired gun" lobbyists
  • Specializes in lobbying for Big Insurance
  • Since 2008, his clients have won state contracts worth $2 billion in taxpayer funds
  • Lobbied for the maker of the HPV vaccine that Governor Rick Perry attempted to require for all Texas girls
  • Ran a "Super PAC" in support of Perry's failed presidential run and accepted a $250,000 donation from personal injury trial lawyer Tony Buzbee
SOURCES: Associated Press, Capitol Inside, Texas Ethics Commission, Austin American-Statesman, Texas Tribune, New York Times
Harold Simmons

Harold Simmons


  • Net worth reported to be $9 billion
  • Granted a monopoly by the state for waste dump in West Texas
  • Head of state agency overruled his staff in granting monopoly to Simmons, then quit his job and went to work for Simmons
  • Simmons profits from waste dump, but Texas taxpayers will hold the future legal liability for the waste itself
  • One of Governor Rick Perry's biggest backers
  • Gave $600,000 to Planned Parenthood
SOURCES: Forbes, Dallas Business Journal, Austin American-Statesman, Sunset Commission Report, Texas Tribune, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Business Journal
Bob McNair

Bob McNair


  • Billionaire owner of Houston Texans, major player in energy industry
  • Lobbied with Enron chief Ken Lay to have Texas electricity market deregulated, claiming it would lower utility rates for everyday Texans
  • Texas electricity rates actually rose after deregulation
  • Served on board of directors of the Federal Reserve
  • Owned stock in drug company that has received $35 million in taxpayer-funded grants from Governor Rick Perry's Texas Enterprise Fund
SOURCES: Forbes, Houston Chronicle, Texas Tribune, Business Week, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Bryan-College Station Eagle
Leo Linbeck, Jr.

Leo Linbeck III


  • Made his fortune in his family’s construction business
  • Has invested in and serves on the board of directors of companies that have received millions in taxpayer-funded grants from Governor Rick Perry's Texas Emerging Technology Fund
  • Founded and funds a federal SuperPAC that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to support Dennis Kucinich, the far-left former congressman
SOURCES: Linbeck Corporation, Pulmotect, Inc., The Plain Dealer, Governor’s Office
Richard Trabulsi

Dick Trabulsi


  • Owned Richard's Liquors and Fine Wines, a liquor chain founded by his father
  • Fought an attempt by the Houston City Council to establish "alcohol-free zones" around schools
  • TLR claims it is led by volunteers, but Trabulsi has been paid at least $1.25 million to lobby for the group
  • Once partnered with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White to raise money for President Bill Clinton
  • Has personally contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Democrats
  • One of President Jimmy Carter's "key" backers
SOURCES: Texas Ethics Commission, IRS, Houston Chronicle, The Washington Post, Texans for Public Justice