Trial lawyers really don’t like Rick Perry, and one whose name should be familiar to PJ readers is gearing up to go after Perry as he runs for president:
Democratic Houston trial lawyer Steve Mostyn — who, along with his wife, Amber, donated nearly $9 million to Texas candidates and party committees in the 2010 cycle — said he’s in the process of forming “some federal PACs” to take on Perry. That will likely include a federal super PAC that could take in the kind of massive donations that are permitted in Texas.
Mostyn said his political spending wouldn’t just center on the trial lawyers’ agenda.
“The legal issues are important and near and dear to my heart,” Mostyn told POLITICO. “But more important is the myth that we’re doing great down here when we’re not. We’re falling behind the rest of the country, and the country is falling behind the rest of the world.”
But the “legal issues,” as Mostyn calls them, are far more than incidental to the hostile relationship between Perry and trial attorneys.
The governor has pushed through a string of tort reform laws, including a 2003 measure putting a monetary cap on non-economic damage awards. He passed another law in the most recent Texas legislative session, making it easier to dismiss some lawsuits and putting plaintiffs on the hook for legal costs in certain cases that are defeated or dismissed.
Texas used to be a land of milk and honey for trial lawyers like Mostyn. He made his considerable fortune in mold lawsuits, back when “mold was gold” (also: a giant trial lawyer scam). Mostyn’s firm also made a handsome profit, no one outside the firm knows how much due to the sheer volume of lawsuits they handled, off the last couple of hurricanes that struck Texas. Those lawsuits left the state’s windstorm insurance fund depleted and the state at risk of bankruptcy until Gov. Perry and the GOP legislature shored the fund up in the 2011 session. But the tort reform successes of 2003 and 2011 have really put trial lawyers on the back foot in Texas. Two trial lawyers have emerged as the prime sources of funding for Democrats and left wing causes in Texas: Mostyn and the late Fred Baron. Baron’s name should also sound familiar; before he died, he used a chunk of his fortune to help John Edwards cover up his love child situation. Baron’s money also funds Matt Angle’s “shadow party” that I’ve written about before. That the Baron estate and the Mostyn empire are the prime engines behind nearly all Democrat activity in the state of Texas gives the game away neatly, proving that when the Democrats talk about good government, they’re really talking about government that’s good for trial lawyers. Mostyn even employs a couple of Democrats currently serving in the legislature. Another Democrat trial lawyer likely to be involved in a war on Perry is former state Rep. Jim Dunnam. Dunnam lost in the 2010 wave to newcomer Marva Beck, so he is out of the lege at the moment, but not out of power in Democrat circles. Dunnam built his empire in part on viatical settlements, which are means by which terminally ill people cash in on their life insurance policies before they die. You can look at viaticals as a service to the terminally ill, or a predation on very vulnerable people in their hour of need, depending on your point of view.
So you’re likely to see several PACs appear out of nowhere, funding slick ads and attack web sites casting Rick Perry as a tool of rich devils, or a killer of education, or some other kind of boogeyman who kicks puppies, hates babies and just might be a shapeshifting vampire in the service of the Bilderbergers. Mostyn is very likely to be behind those ads and web sites, and his actual agenda has very little to do with the content of the attacks. He is all about restoring the old order in which trial lawyers were king.