Founded in 1949, Texas Trial Lawyers Association (TTLA) is an organization whose membership is made up of plaintiff’s attorneys.
TTLA PAC is known to support Democrat candidates and PACs, and has traditionally received support from some of the state’s most prominent liberal donors.
In 2003, TTLA faced off with Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR) in a high profile fight to stop tort reform through limiting medical malpractice awards. TTLA lost the battle and voters approved lawsuit limitations.
Since that time, TTLA has continue to fight against tort reform – and has become short on funds necessary to lead high profile battles. Today TTLA PAC is financially supported by a few large donors and by small recurring donations from its membership.
In the 2016 campaign season, evidence of TTLA’s continued political battles with Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR) were made obvious when TTLA PAC and several of its top donors weighed-in heavily in the SD 1 Republican primary race. In SD 1, State Representative David Simpson was running a tight race against the favored and heavily TLR-backed candidate, State Representative Bryan Hughes.
In the end, TTLA PAC, Provost Umphrey Law Firm LLP, Nelson Roach, Baron & Budd PC, The Gallagher Law Firm LLP, and John Baldwin each contributed from $7,500 – $20,000 to State Rep. Simpson. These contributions made up a significant percentage of State Rep. Simpson’s overall funding, and likely pushed him into the runoff by a 13 vote margin.
A number of trial law firms around the state contribute to TTLA PAC, but no firm and its attorneys contribute more than Provost Umphrey Law Firm, LLP, a personal injury law firm in Beaumont. Walter Umphrey, Managing Partner, gave TTLA $100,000, its largest contribution in 2016. Bryan Blevins Jr., Equity Partner, served as 2015 President of TTLA, and a third of the firm’s attorneys contribute regularly to the association.
In 2013, TTLA’s longtime leader and top democrat donor, Steve Mostyn, left TTLA to start another organization – Texas Association of Consumer Lawyers. Referencing TTLA PAC’s political activities at the time, Mr. Mostyn said, “I don’t see them participating at all. They seem to be stuck in a time warp over there.”
Several years have passed since Mr. Mostyn’s departure and Texas Association of Consumer Lawyers has a limited impact on elections. Most of TTLA PAC’s donors remain intact in small levels – though high overhead and administrative costs still outweigh their political action spending.
Most Interesting Donation:
Background: Contributions given to elected officials after their elections are won (November- December) or immediately after legislative session (May – July) are generally assumed to be intended to gain support for a legislative priority.
Both Sens. Estes and Whitmire are members of the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce, the committee with jurisdiction over SB 10, a high-profile bill which addresses hailstorm litigation reform. SB 10 is heavily opposed by TTLA, but is a top priority of both Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and is being strongly supported by TLR. These contributions are likely part of TTLA’s effort to slow progress on this tort reform effort.
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