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Top Texas Democratic Donor Forms a New Group

Top Texas Democratic Donor Forms a New Group

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Published by vomeditor

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Published by: vomeditor on Oct 23, 2013
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FORWARDED BY: Allan R. Jamail Senatorial District 6
(SDEC) Texas State Democratic Executive Committeeman2013 - RULES, COMMUNICATIONS & RESOLUTIONS52 year proud member of the AFL-CIO. SUSTAINING MEMBER TEXAS DEMOCRATIC PARTY
By Jay Root / 10-22-13
Mega-Donor Forms New Trial Lawyer Association
The state’s top Democratic donor, trial l
awyer Steve Mostyn,is tttT
The state’s top Democratic donor, trial lawyer 
Steve Mostyn,is spearheading anew group of like-minded attorneys who want to shake up politics
and thestoried Texas Trial Lawyers Association along with it.
Mostyn and two heavy-hitter trial lawyers, Amy Witherite of Dallas and KurtArnold of Houston, have formed a new group called the Texas Association of Consumer Lawyers. The chief goal, says Mostyn, is getting more money into thehands of candidates friendly to their cause, with as little administrative bloat aspossible.
Mostyn said the group was created in part out of frustration that dues being paidto the Texas Trial Lawyers Association are financing way too much overhead
 leaving far too little money for campaign spending. Like the TTLA, the new groupis a 501 C-6, a not-for-profit entity favored by trade groups, and it will have arelated political action committee for donating to campaigns.
According to Guidestar, which tracks the spending of nonprofit organizations,
TTLA’s longtime executive director, Tommy Townsend, was paid $1,061,880 in
2011. The report showed compensation for key employees accounted for nearly a
third of the group’s more than $6 million in receipts that year.“I’m not interested in being part of a country club,” Mostyn said. “I’m interestedin getting something done.”
TTLA President Brad Parker said he welcomed the creation of the group and
didn’t see it as a competitor.
“We’re going to work together,” Parker said. “We’re both trying to preserve thecivil justice system. That’s where all of our efforts and goals are.” Parker declined
to address the issue of administrative overhead or executive salaries at TTLA butsaid
Mostyn’s laser focus on political involvement represented a “valid model” for a
trade association.
“He’s got legitimate concerns,” Parker said. “His heart is committed to the samething my heart is committed to.”
Witherite, the Dallas trial lawyer who is helping to organize the new group, saidshe is still a TTLA member and believes the two groups can co-exist.
"I want more of my money going directly into campaigns," she said. "I think
(TTLA does) a lot of good, but that doesn’t mean we can’t
have another groupthat is symbiotic."
Mostyn and his wife Amber, who chairs Annie’s List, which helps Democraticwomen get elected in Texas, are considered to be the state’s most prolific
Democratic donors.In 2010, Steve Mostyn famously paid for full-page ads in Texas newspaperscalling Gov.Rick Perry
a “coward” for refusing to debate his Democratic rival,
former Houston Mayor Bill White. In 2012, Mostyn and his wife wererankedby theHouston Chronicle as the top Texas givers to Democratic superPACs, includingPriorities U.S.A., which supported the re-election of President Obama.Mostyn is a former president of TTLA but he has since given up his membership.
He said the association has come to look at direct political involvement “like kindof a nuisance” instead of its main focus —
all at a time when Republican-ledcurbs on lawsuits have made it harder and harder for people to get redress in thecourts.
Mostyn said use of the term “consumer lawyers” in the name of the new
association underscores a broader focus. He said the new group would make iteasier for lawyers who do defense work as part of their practice to join the newassociation.
The TTLA was once a major player in state politics but its fortunes have declinedalong with the once-dominant Texas Democratic Party. This summer, in its latestreport filed with the Texas Ethics Commission, TTLA's political committeereported $247,000 in incoming campaign contributions, $151,000 in expendituresand $220,000 in the bank.
By comparison, Texans for Lawsuit Reform, the conservative group thatpromotes lawsuit restrictions and generally sides with Republicans, reported $1.9million in contrbituions, $316,000 in expenditures and $3 million in the bank.Mostyn said he hoped the formation of the new lawyers' association would nudgeTTLA toward putting more of its money into direct political combat.

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