The Texas Trial Lawyers Association (TTLA) is the go-to PAC for plaintiff’s attorneys looking to make an impact on public policy. Because Republicans have held political majorities in Texas for more than two decades, trial lawyers have had a hard time carving out a niche from which to conduct their work. TTLA exists to empower legislators who are willing to take on Republican leadership and advocate for more leeway in judicial proceedings and awards.
The vast majority of TTLA’s financial support goes to Democrats, although they make an occasional gift to highly-placed Liberal Republicans in House Leadership when they believe that person could either help them pass legislation TTLA likes, or kill legislation TTLA deems harmful to trial lawyers. Conservative and Moderate Republicans have, for years, worked extensively to end frivolous lawsuits and curtail outrageous income streams for trial lawyers. TTLA serves as the counter to those efforts, working to give trial lawyers a voice in the Capitol and greater bandwidth to advocate for their clients.
A quick look at the top ten recipients of TTLA dollars in the Texas House shows a clear bent toward supporting the Democrat tribe.
|Top Ten Texas House Recipients – 2016 Cycle|
***Shown are the top ten supported candidates who won the office they sought, as they have votes to examine from the 85th Legislative Session.
TTLA makes the best out of a rather difficult situation. Texas citizens overwhelmingly hold an unfavorable view of trial lawyers. Couple that with the fact that Republicans have held all statewide offices for more than two decades, and it is easy to see that TTLA’s efforts to advocate for trial lawyers are an uphill battle. In spite of the circumstances, TTLA has had some success. Their strategy of aligning with Democrats and supporting key Liberal Republicans within House Leadership has slowed the tide of conservative reforms aimed squarely at reining in trial lawyers. Should TTLA’s efforts cease, plaintiff’s attorneys would certainly find greater restrictions on their livelihood.
Those opposed to TTLA’s efforts would argue that their work is almost pointless in Texas. With Republicans solidly in control of all statewide offices and both chambers of the Capitol, TTLA’s hopes of getting any meaningful reform passed are little more than a pipe dream. Trial lawyers have a reputation among the citizens of Texas, and it isn’t a good one. TTLA’s efforts to protect trial lawyers and advance their cause not only rubs Texans the wrong way, but hits them in the pocketbooks as well.
The Bottom Line:
TTLA’s largest donations went exclusively to either Democrats or Liberal Republicans, thus they reside in the Democrat tribe on the spectrum of PACs. As most trial lawyers and their supporters lean Democrat, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Given the circumstances, their support of Liberal Republicans in House Leadership is quite enlightening. Relegated to essentially playing defense, TTLA invests heavily to help Democrats in “purple” or “swing” districts as well as Liberal Republicans they believe will ultimately be sympathetic to their cause.
Should a voter see a large donation from TTLA to their local politician, they can likely conclude that person is either a Democrat who advocates on behalf of trial lawyers, or a Liberal Republican who is willing to carry their water.
Border Health PAC: Democrat Tribe
An Easy Guide to the Big Money PACs in Texas Politics – In this Series: