Tax Return Reveals Funding Sources of So-called Watchdog Group For Immediate Release:
Contact: Sherry Sylvester 512-478-0200, Extension 204
(AUSTIN, TX) Texans for Public Justice calls itself a non-partisan watchdog group that focuses on political campaign contributions in Texas, but the only contributions publicly reported on their 2005 tax filing came from some of those big political campaign contributors they claim to be monitoring -- personal injury trial lawyers.
TPJ has long refused to disclose their funders, but their 2005 tax report reveals that three high-profile personal injury trial lawyer firms “Baron & Budd and Silber Pearlman, LLP in Dallas and Williams Bailey, LLP in Houston -- gave a total of $50,000 dollars to the organization last year, almost a third of the total organizational budget.
TPJ did not report the source of the additional $107,000 in contributions they collected. These big checks from personal injury trial lawyers are clearly the reason Craig McDonald told the Austin American-Statesman* recently that he was "not outraged" about John O'Quinn's million dollar contributions to the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, said TLR PAC Director Justin Unruh. We've assumed for years that TPJ is a front for the trial lawyers and these filings prove we're right. In addition to contributions to TPJ last year, Fred Baron has contributed $1,809,817 to campaigns and political action committees this election cycle.
Texas Ethics Commission reports indicate John Eddie Williams and Williams Bailey, LLP have contributed at least $635,600 this election cycle and Silber Pearlman, LLP has contributed $55,275. Texans for Public Justice is currently advocating a $100,000 cap on political contributions in Texas. In keeping with TPJ's hypocritical stance, their proposal exempts law firms, including the personal injury trial lawyers that have contributed to TPJ.
Texans for Lawsuit Reform, the state's largest civil justice reform organization, is a bipartisan, volunteer-led coalition with more than 15,000 supporters residing in more than 757 Texas communities and representing 1,253 different businesses, professions and trades.
* McDonald did not object to O'Quinn's potential $5 million donation: The system in Texas is out of whack. The concentration of political money should alarm all Texans, including the ability of one donor to give $1 million or more to a single campaign. But I don't begrudge Mr. O'Quinn from raising money to help the Democratic ticket. It is woefully underfunded compared to the special-interest money Gov. Perry has raised. . . . I'm not outraged." Austin American-Statesman, October 10, 2006. -30-