January 14, 1999
Leininger, Weekley, McMinn Lead Tycoons
Bankrolling Tort-Dodger PAC

Austin:  While Texans for Lawsuit Reform’s rent-a-candidate venture took a beating in the fall election, its  sad showing can’t be blamed on a shortage of cash.

TLR showered more than $800,000 on its 15 favorite legislative candidates. Texas’ most aggressive special- interest PAC financed this political shopping spree by raising a whopping $947,409 in the 1998 election cycle.
Nearly half of this bulging
war chest (48%) came from an exclusive group of 16 fat cats who each bestowed more than $10,000 on the TLR PAC in the last cycle.

TLR’s “Sweet Sixteen” heap-ed a combined $452,500 on the PAC that is the poster child of the far right’s effort to engineer a  partisan take-over of the Texas House of Representatives.

The group’s spin doctors  claim the tort “reform” jihad is a popular movement, but TLR’s key funders are mil-lionaires and billionaires who see the tort “reform” crusade as another chance to pad the bottom line by rigging the legal system in their favor.

 “TLR’s fat cats make up an exclusive club that seeks to control the legislature with its own hand-picked candidates,” said Craig McDonald, direc-tor of Texans for Public Jus-tice. “These are the Donald Trumps of Texas. They be-lieve they can buy whatever they want, including our gov-ernment.”

TLR’s top three contributors in the 1998 cycle ($50,000 each) have all generated their share of controversy:

The U.S. EPA’s 1996 Toxic Release Inventory counts Sterling’s Texas City plant among the top 20% of U.S. facilities in air releases of known carcinogens and reproductive toxins. From 1988-1996, the plant dumped over 228 million pounds of toxins into the environment.

More and more, Texas com-munities blighted by indus-trial pollution are giving up  any hope of relief from the industry-captured TNRCC, and are turning instead to the civil courts to seek redress against reckless polluters.

Given its toxic sugar daddies, it’s no surprise that two of TLR’s stated goals for the 76th legislature are to “curb the abuse of class action lawsuits,” and “clarify the definition of ‘toxic tort.’”
Other highlights of TLR’s  reckless, anti-consumer agenda for 1999 include:

Texans for Lawsuit Reform's Sweet 16
Tycoon  Interests 1997/98 TLR 
'95-'98 TLR 
James Leininger Kinetic Concepts (hospital beds) $50,000 $75,000
Dick Weekley Weekley Development $50,000 $100,000
William McMinn Sterling Chemicals $50,000 $85,000
Andrew Beal Beal Bank/Beal Aerospace $45,000 $45,000
Robert Folsom Folsom Investments (developer) $25,500 $50,500
Harlan Crow Trammel Crow (construction) $25,000 $77,500
Kenneth Lay Enron Corp. (energy) $25,000 $50,000
David Underwood Lovett Underwood (stocks) $25,000 $62,500
David Weekley David Weekley Homes $25,000 $75,000
Terry Huffington Huffco. Inc. (energy) $25,000 $51,000
Robert McNair Cogen Technologies (utilities) $25,000 $100,000
James Lightner Electrospace Systems (defense) $25,000 $40,000
Gordon Cain Sterling Chemicals $20,000 $35,000
Robert Rogers Texas Industries (cement) $15,000 $18,500
Walter Mischer Allied Bancshare, Dover Homes $11,000 $17,000
Louis Beecherl Beecherl Investments (energy) $11,000 $21,000
$452,500 $903,000
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Texans for Public Justice is a non-partisan, non-profit policy & research organization
 which tracks the influence of money in politics.

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