TEXANS FOR PUBLIC JUSTICE…Watch Dog or Attack Dog?
Texans for Public Justice (TPJ) bills itself as an independent, non-partisan, watchdog group dedicated to exposing a system of financial contributions that it says is corrupting Texas politics. In fact, TPJ is nothing that it claims to be. It is not Texan. Nothing about it is public. And, it is definitely not interested in justice. A thorough look at TPJ’s activities reveals that this “watchdog” is just an attack dog. Although it describes itself as a watchdog public interest group, it appears to be little more than a de facto mouthpiece for plaintiff trial lawyers in this state and their statewide lobby organization, the Texas Trial Lawyers Association.
TPJ first appeared in Texas in 1997, when veteran operatives of leftist, out-of-state organizations – such as Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen – came to this state to set up the organization. The TPJ version of justice is one-sided. Since its inception, TPJ – preying on the good intentions of media outlets across Texas and this nation – has used an array of slanted, self-published reports to criticize a select segment of this state’s political spectrum. The targets of TPJ’s attacks are almost exclusively Republicans, business leaders and organizations, and those interested in the reform of Texas’ civil justice system.
Within those categories, TPJ attacks all levels of state government, ranging from former Gov. George W. Bush to the Texas Supreme Court, the Texas Attorney General, and the Legislature. While the subjects of the TPJ reports vary, the targets are always the same: Businesses, Republicans, Conservatives, Tort Reformers. Shockingly, this self-described watchdog group has never found anything worth reporting about the plaintiff ’s trial bar, or the politicians funded by trial lawyers. TPJ’s main mode of derision is a steady stream of reports targeting campaign contributions. Although there appears to be a growing recognition of the group’s partisan nature, the media generally treats TPJ as a public “watchdog” dedicated to documenting financial contributions and their role in political races.
Even a cursory review of TPJ reveals that its rancorous attacks are apparently motivated by a specific political agenda. Portraying a public persona that trades on good government and the public’s right to know, TPJ’s activities seem to indicate its unstated goal is to demonize business interests and any elected officials who support a pro-business agenda or who oppose frivolous lawsuits. In all its actions, TPJ consistently fails to disclose the depth of plaintiff trial lawyer participation in Texas political activities.
The targets of TPJ attacks and the timing of those attacks are further evidence of the group’s attempt to further the political agenda of that well-funded, sliver-thin section of the trial bar. In Texas, TPJ’s analyses, reports, press releases, and public statements all read like the Texas Trial Lawyers Association prepared them. They are anti-business and antijob creation. Everything they do seems to share an overarching theme: Texas would be a better state if it were easier to file lawsuits and there were more and broader opportunities to bring legal action. From its inception, one of TPJ’s prime targets has been Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR). TPJ’s inaugural report attacked Texans for Lawsuit Reform, people in the forefront of advocating a fair and balanced civil justice system, and individuals and businesses most closely associated with that bipartisan, nonprofit, statewide public policy organization.
TLR, which commissioned this report, has over 11,200 supporters in 610 Texas cities and those members represent 1,110 different trades, professions, and businesses. TLR is proud of its supporters, its mission, and its transparency. TLR has become the state’s leading civil justice advocacy organization. This report will document what we know about Texans for Public Justice, its origin, its supporters, its tactics, and its allies. The chapters include:
Chapter One: Misleading the Media
Chapter Two: Refusing to Practice
What it Preaches
Chapter Three: Trashing Texas
Chapter Four: Oops! I missed that one!
Summary: TPJ: Powerful, Partisan Trial Lawyer Advocacy Organization