Austin: The war chests of nine candidates for the Texas Legislature are bloated with special interest money from the state’s largest single issue PAC, Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR).
TLR, the 800-pound gorilla of the Texas anti-consumer movement, has a radical agenda that includes partisan realignment of the Texas House of Representatives.
TLR PAC contributions account for 10 percent to 64 percent of all the money that nine legislative candidates raised between January 1997 and October 3, 1998.
“Texans for Lawsuit Reform is buying itself a legislature,” said Texans for Public Justice Director Craig McDonald. “They want to pull the strings when these candidates get to Austin. It’s corrosive to democracy for any candidate to be so beholden to a single interest group.”
TLR’s top mortgaged candidate is Ron Buffum (Wichita Falls) who has TLR to thank for $44,612, or 64 percent of his total campaign war chest.
TLR gave more money to Sen. Mike Galloway (Houston) than any other legislative candidate. The $119,315 Galloway took from this PAC accounted for 21 percent of the money he has raised since January 1997.
Four other House candidates have relied on TLR for more than 20% of their war chests. These candidates are:
These tycoons have a vested interest in changing state law to make it harder for average citizens to hold them or their firms accountable when consumers are injured by faulty products, laborers are killed at unsafe work sites, or Texas neighborhoods are poisoned by toxic spills.
“Texans need honest representation in government, not puppets of a special interest group,” McDonald said. “TLR does a great job of representing tycoons, but it does so by trampling on the constitutional rights of average people to seek justice in a court of law.” TLR calls itself “bipartisan,” but this PAC appears to be working closely with the Associated Republicans of Texas PAC to install a Republican majority in the Texas House.
In the current election cycle, TLR's PAC reported spending $523,019 on behalf of Texas candidates. Republicans got 83% of this money. In highly competitive general-election races for open seats vacated by incumbents, Republicans got 99.8 percent of TLR’s money.
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