October 29, 1998
10 TLR Tort Tycoons Invest
 $2.5 Million in TX Elections

Austin — Ten tycoon families that are major underwriters of Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR) have spent—at a minimum—an eye-popping $2.5 million on Texas’ current election cycle, according to Texas Ethics Commission records filed through Oct. 3.

The $2,468,186 spent by the 10 tycoon families went to five Republican-leaning independent PACs, the Republican Party and to candidates for statewide office. Ninety-eight percent of the money to statewide office seekers benefited Republican candidates.

“This is a prime example of how a few powerful individuals can wield too much influence through campaign money,” said Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice.   “This distorts the principle of one person, one vote.  These millionaires would not be able to gain this kind of leverage if Texas imposed campaign contribution limits like those found in the federal election system.”

TLR was the state’s highest spending independent PAC in the 1996 election cycle. TLR lobbies for anti-consumer restrictions on the Texas civil justice code, which would benefit TLR’s tycoon contributors.

Each of the 10 TLR donor families gave $100,000 or more in the current campaign cycle to various PACs and statewide candidates. Together, these 10 donors contributed $331,000 to TLR, or 63 percent of the $523,000 that TLR had spent in this election cycle as of early October. TLR gave 83 percent of this money to Republican candidates. In hotly contested races for open seats in the legislature, Republican candidates reaped 99 percent of TLR’s money.

The 10 tycoons contributed an additional $476,100 to four other independent PACs: the A+ PAC, the Associated Republicans of Texas,  Eight in `98 and the Free Enterprise PAC. Each of these large PACs provide almost exclusive support to Republican candidates.

The 10 TLR top dogs also contributed $1,434,586 to candidates for statewide office, all but $21,500 of which benefited Republicans.  Finally, the 10 tycoons gave $226,500 to the PAC of the Texas Republican Party.

 “TLR President Dick Weekley’s claim that he runs a bi-partisan reform group representing average Texans is hog wash,” said McDonald. “TLR represents Republican tycoons who are seeking to buy legislative favors at the expense of average consumers in Texas.”

Texas' Political King Makers
10 Top TLR Funders Pump $2.5 Million 
into Texas Politics (as of 10/3/98)
Family of:   Interests TLR Other PACs1 Party PACs2 Statewides3 Total
Louis Beecherl*    Beecherl Investments  $11,000  $28,500  $30,000  $149,000  $213,500 
Gordon Cainº   Sterling Chemicals $20,000  $50,000  $ -  $133,000  $203,000 
Harlan Crow*   Trammell Crow  $25,000  $ 500  $6,000  $92,450  $123,950 
Kenneth Layº   Enron  $25,000  $5,000  $3,000  $139,000  $172,000 
James Leininger†   Kinetic Concepts  $50,000  $177,100  $176,500  $311,136  $714,736 
James Lightner*   Electrospace Systems  $25,000  $25,000  $1,000  $57,000  $108,000 
William McMinnº   Sterling Chemicals $50,000  $177,000  $ -  $312,000  $539,000 
Robert McNairº   Cogen Technologies  $25,000  $ -  $5,000  $130,000  $160,000 
David Underwood º   Lovett Underwood Neuhaus  $25,000  $13,000  $5,000  $59,000  $102,000 
Richard Weekleyº   David Weekley Homes  $75,000  $ -  $ -  $52,000  $127,000 
Total:     $331,000  $476,100  $226,500  $1,434,586  $2,468,186 
Residence: ºHouston; *Dallas; †San Antonio
1 Eight in '98, Associated Republicans of TX, Free Enterprise PAC and A+ PAC, Jan. 1997-Oct. 1998.
2 Texas Democratic Party & Texas Republican Campaign Committee, Jan. 1997-Oct. 1998 (no money to Democratic Party).
3 Candidates from two dominant parties for Gov., Lt. Gov., AG, Comptroller, Railroad Com., Land Com. and Ag. Com. Democrats received just $21,500 of total.
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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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