February 9, 1999
‘Tort Dodgers’ Bankroll A.G.

Austin: Newly elected Attorney General John Cornyn received more than $1 million from the PAC of Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR) —one of the state's largest special-interest groups—and just 24 of its members.

The TLR PAC and the 24 tort tycoons supplied 16 percent of the $6.5 million war chest that Cornyn amassed for his A.G. race.

Founded by Houston real estate developer Richard Weekley, TLR is Texas’ most aggressive advocate of anti-consumer “tort reforms.” These laws are designed to limit consumer lawsuits and shield corporate wrongdoers from liability.

Cornyn’s tort tycoons all have a stake in limiting corporate liability in consumer lawsuits. Dr. James Leininger led this pack, giving $96,000 to Cornyn and another $100,000 to TLR’s PAC.

Other Cornyn tort-dodger patrons include: Robert McNair, of private utility Cogen Technologies ($90,000 to Cornyn); Perry Homes’ Bob Perry ($85,000); and the Weekleys ($64,500).

Cornyn took another $135,000 directly from the TLR PAC. This PAC, in turn, got half of its $950,000 1998 war chest from just 16 tycoon families.

Such big-donor friends of Cornyn may lose less sleep now that he is the state’s top lawyer.

Cornyn has been soft on corporate crime and hard on consumer lawyers who would hold corporations responsible for their actions.

On the Texas Supreme Court, Cornyn led the swing to protect corporate defendants when sued by victims and consumers. As an incumbent Supreme Court candidate in 1996, Cornyn raised a greater share of his money from litigants who appeared before the court than any other justice (46% of his money came from parties on the court’s docket).

“The Attorney General’s job is to protect average Texas citizens from powerful corporate wrongdoers,” said Texans for Public Justice Director Craig McDonald. “Cornyn may be the A.G. who protects powerful corporate wrongdoers from average citizens.”

 Who Texas' Top Lawyer Represents
    $ To Cornyn $ To TLR
Tort-Reform Financier Commercial Interests A.G. Race '94-'98
TLR Top TX Special-Interest PAC $135,000 $3.2 M.*
+James Leininger KCI (hospital bed mfg.) $96,000 $100,000
+Robert McNair (w/PAC) Cogen Tech./Cogen PAC (power) $90,000 $150,000
+Bob Perry Perry Homes $85,000 $25,000
+Ken Lay (w/PAC) Enron/Enron PAC (energy) $65,500 $55,000
+David/Dick Weekley Fam. David Weekley Homes $64,500 $225,000
Tom/R. Steven Hicks Hicks, Muse/Capstar (radio) $55,000 $5,000
+J. Virgil Waggoner Sterling Chemical  $55,000 $20,000
+William McMinn Sterling Chemical $50,000 $90,000
+Reed Morian Fam. Dixie Holding Co. (chemicals) $50,000 $37,000
+Louis Beecherl Fam. Texas Oil & Gas $49,000 $21,000
+Gordon Cain Sterling Chemical $46,000 $35,000
+David Underwood Lovett, Underwood…(stocks) $45,000 $62,500
+Richard Salwen Dell Computer $35,000 $500
Charles Butt Fam. HEB (grocery chain) $32,500 $10,000
+James A. Elkins, Jr. First City (bank) $30,500 $11,000
Herb Vest H.D. Vest (financial services) $30,000 $0
+H.B. Zachry (w/PAC) HB Zachry/ZacoPAC (constr.) $29,250 $0
+Peter O'Donnell Fam. First National Bank $25,000 $60,000
+Harold Simmons Waste Control (nuclear dumping) $21,000 $10,000
Dennis Berman Denitech Corp. (copier leasing) $20,000 $5,000
B.J. "Red" McCombs Red McCombs (auto sales) $14,000 $2,500
John McGovern McGovern Allergy Clinic $13,500 $15,000
+Fred Meyer Aladdin Ind. (lanterns/thermoses) $12,684 $2,000
John Nau Silver Eagle Dist. (alcohol) $12,500 $1,000
  TOTAL $1,026,934 $942,500

* Amount TLR’s PAC raised from July 1994 through September 1998.
+ Has served on TLR’s Statewide Committee or Board of Governors; all others are TLR members.
PAC subtotals included in above Cornyn figures: Enron PAC = $25,500; Cogen PAC = $25,000; ZacoPAC = $5,000.  •


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 which tracks the influence of money in politics.

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