with Judge Greg Abbott
As we wind down to the November elections one wonders what happened to Ron Kirk's campaign in Texas. He doesn't seem to show up anywhere, but is seen on the left-wing Hollywood fundraising circuit regularly
He recently turned down a chance for a national debate on Meet the Press with Tim Russert, claiming he had a conflict. One wonders what better things Ron Kirk has to do than debate John Cornyn on Meet the Press. Could it be Ron Kirk is hiding from his outrageous statements about the potential Iraq conflict featured in TCR Issue 10?
The bottom line: Ron Kirk is not ready for high office. He shows a Louis Farrakhan type of attitude when it comes to the diverse American electorate and as the campaign goes on his moderate mask is fading into his true face of an out-of-touch left-wing Democrat.
Make sure you, your associates and family all go to the polls to send John Cornyn to Washington where he can help President Bush and at the same time we can send Ron Kirk home to the showers never to be heard from again!
Contact the Cornyn campaign, volunteer, put a bumper sticker on your car and of course, vote! Please visit www.johncornyn.com.
Republican Candidate for Attorney General
TCR: Judge Abbott, give us an update on your campaign three weeks from the election
GA: I am making tracks all over Texas. I plan to roll right over my opponent.
TCR: One of the most inspiring stories in public life in Texas is yours -what are the lessons you learned about overcoming disabilities or disadvantages?
GA: I've found that more important than the ability to walk is to go down a path in life guided by principles. Unquestionably, the loss of the use of my legs in a freak accident was a defining moment for me and fundamentally altered my outlook on life. Sacrificing something so basic to everyday existence gave me a drive to serve others and provide an example for all those who face challenges and obstacles. Overcoming my disability - serving as an attorney, district court judge and Supreme Court Justice - hopefully provides inspiration to others. Furthermore, my approach to the practice of law and my service as a judge has enabled me to see the consequences of lawmaking and to see the impact on the lives of everyday people. One cannot sit in judgment of others and fail to see the importance of common sense, sound moral decision making and a commitment to fundamental ethical and constitutional principles. Those qualities should infuse the actions of anyone seeking and holding public office.
TCR: What is your concept of how plaintiffs and defense lawyers fit in our civil justice system?
GA: Plaintiffs and defense lawyers play a critical role in defending the injured and accused, and are indispensable to the entire system of justice. However, we must curb abusive and frivolous lawsuits that are driving up the cost of healthcare, reducing consumer choice in insurance, and increasingly threatening the very livelihood of many doctors across the state.
According to a recent Texas Medical Association study, the percentage of physicians being sued in Texas is now nearly one-in-four. In addition, a poll conducted by Harris Interactive Inc., "The Fear of Litigation Study - The Impact on Medicine," found that 79% of physicians say they "order more tests than they would based only on professional judgment of what is medically needed" because of the fear of malpractice liability.
On May 15th, News 8 Austin reported how physicians are suffering right here in Travis County due to high insurance premiums that are forcing Austin doctors to either retire early or leave the state to get coverage elsewhere. This means patients will suffer the most because they may not have access to the special care they need. The same story pointed out the acute shortage of neurosurgeons in Austin.
On May 6th, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a national medical organization representing nearly 40,000 physicians, issued an alert that should worry every woman. Dr. Thomas F. Purdon, president of ACOG said, "Across the country, liability insurance for obstetrician-gynecologists is becoming unaffordable or even unavailable, as insurance companies stop insuring doctors. Without insurance, ob-gyns are forced to stop delivering babies, stop surgical services, or close their doors. Women and newborns are hurt the most."
There is no question that plaintiffs need unfettered access to the civil justice system -- just as I exercised my legal rights when I was injured and left paralyzed. But abusive lawsuits must end.
TCR: What are the major differences between your vision for the Attorney General's office and Kirk Watson's?
GA: I believe we must strictly adhere to the rule of law whereas my opponent sees the judiciary and legal system as a potential personal windfall. I see the law as a means to guarantee the rights of the injured and as a tool to ensure freedom, rights and order; whereas his liberal activist view would compel him to use the law as a means to punish those parties and people who do not adhere to his philosophy. The rising tide of class action suits brought against law-abiding companies, as an example, undermines the business climate and adds a level of uncertainty to doing business in our state. Furthermore, I see my role as Attorney General as a clear mandate to build on the success of John Cornyn, whereas Kirk Watson would push the agency back to the tone and temper of Jim Mattox.
TCR: Recently in Texas, we have another insurance crisis - Farmers Insurance is leaving the state, rates have exploded and coverage is more restrictive - what is your explanation of how this happened and what can be done about it?
GA: You are right, the dream of homeownership is becoming a nightmare due to insurance rates that are spiraling out of control. Homeowners are squeezed between a vice of abusive insurance practices and mold claim scams. As Attorney General, I will put an end to 'rate shock' by holding accountable any insurance or mold remediation company that bilks consumers out of their hard earned money. Reason and stability must be restored to homeowners' insurance costs. I will instruct the Insurance Practices Section and the Antitrust Section of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division to aggressively investigate the following issues related to "mold claims" and homeowners' insurance policy practices:
1. Investigate claims handling practices regarding water and mold claims focusing on whether insurance companies violated the Deceptive Trade Practices Act or article 21.21 of the Texas Insurance Code.
2. Issue Civil Investigative Demands (CIDs) to investigate possible fraud by mold remediation companies. Any violations should be reported to the Insurance Fraud Unit of the Texas Department of Insurance.
3. I will use the Consumer Protection Division to ensure consumers are not misled with false advertising and sales tactics by insurance companies. Now, more than ever, consumers must know, in easy to understand language, what a policy covers and what it does not cover.
4. I will instruct the Antitrust Section of the AG's office to investigate possible tying practices requiring consumers to purchase home insurance without mold coverage in order to obtain automobile liability coverage. Companies may transfer consumers to county mutual providers, ultimately costing consumers more money, for failure to purchase the insurance company's pre-selected homeowner's plan.
5. I will seek to investigate whether insurance companies are discriminating against homeowners by using credit scores to determine whether homeowners are eligible for coverage. Insurance companies need to prove what, if any, correlation exists between a homeowner's credit rating and risk.
Finally, I pledge to work side by side with the Texas Department of Insurance to demand accountability from insurance companies. As Attorney General, my priority will be to keep a watchful eye on the insurance industry and bring to justice anyone engaged in activities intended to defraud or discriminate against any Texan.
TCR: In 1995, we got a major tort reform plan passed ---why are we now being told we need more tort reform? How does that impact on the ability of citizens to seek legal redress in the courts?
GA: It is clear that we must curb abusive and frivolous lawsuits that are driving up the cost of healthcare, reducing consumer choice in insurance, and increasingly threatening the very livelihood of many doctors across the state.
I am fearful that access to care is being denied to low and middle income Texans, particularly pre-natal care for women, while plaintiff's lawyers pursue unwarranted and unjustified legal action against doctors and hospitals. The tort reforms of 1995 did not anticipate the drive to pursue doctors out of private practice in Texas. So when we talk about a healthcare crisis in Texas, irresponsible personal injury trial lawyers bear the most responsibility.
TCR: Kirk Watson has criticized you for talking down personal injury lawsuits while accepting significant damages in a personal case -what is your response?
GA: Again, there is a clear and fundamental difference between frivolous lawsuits and legitimate lawsuits. Approximately 85% of medical malpractice claims brought against doctors are dismissed with no wrongdoing found by the doctor. I emphasize that most of the blame for the healthcare cost crisis can be laid at the feet of personal-injury trial lawyers like Kirk Watson, and the state must find ways to protect physicians from meritless claims that cost thousands of dollars - often hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend. These meritless claims drive up the cost of medical malpractice insurance for all physicians and the cost of healthcare for all patients.
As Attorney General, I will apply my experience as a Supreme Court Justice, State District Judge and practicing attorney to vigorously defend doctors, nurses and hospitals against medical malpractice claims. Kirk Watson, my opponent and a plaintiff's trial lawyer, has sued doctors for millions of dollars. He can not be trusted to properly defend our healthcare providers.
TCR: Describe the challenge you face in getting your message out with so many high dollar campaigns above you on the ballot.
GA: It really is not that difficult. Texans want to know that their next Attorney General stands for the principles of integrity and fairness. My record as a Supreme Court Justice proves that I am the right one for the job.
TCR: What are your keys to victory in November?
The key to victory is my ability to deliver my message of protecting the most vulnerable to the voters of Texas. I see this campaign boiling down to a classic conservative versus liberal contest. Voters, in my opinion, do not want an activist liberal trial lawyer as Attorney General. They want an Attorney General who will adhere to the law and advance the interests of those legitimately hurt and injured, such as the children who are sexually and physically abused and the parents who are impoverished because a former spouse willfully and intentionally refuses to make child support payments.
TCR: What are your top three priorities for the Attorney General's office when you hopefully take office in January?
GA: I will make it a priority to defend those most vulnerable in our society. I will protect the youngest Texans by combating the purveyors of pornography who prey upon our children and by continuing to improve child support collections, ensuring parents take responsibility for their actions. I will protect the Medicaid program from those who seek to defraud it and stand up for our most senior Texans who reside in nursing homes, and I will be an advocate for consumers and homeowners who struggle against insurance companies and predatory trial lawyers.
TCR: How can our readers assist you in your campaign?
GA: 1. Spread the word that the choice for Attorney General of Texas is clear: Texans can choose between a former Supreme Court Justice, appointed by Bush, and a former liberal mayor of Austin.
2. Volunteer for my campaign by calling: 512-477-2002.
TCR: Judge Abbott I want to wish you the best of luck. I know you will be a terrific Attorney General.
Here Comes the Democratic
Tax "Enhancement" Plans (Tax Increases)
Do you remember the Democratic line in the early 1990's that we are under-taxed or that the "rich" and "big business" are not paying their "fair" share of taxes or use loopholes to avoid them?
Now, it's coming back. We are now told in Texas the real problem isn't too much spending, but not collecting our taxes. For example, they cite evasion of the franchise tax by corporations becoming partnerships, no sales tax charges for some business and professional services and no penalty for businesses that don't pay their property taxes. These ideas were all put forward by an innocuous sounding group, The Texas Industrial Areas Foundation. This left-wing group of activists wants to bring higher taxes to Texas and I'm sure lurking out there in the future is a push for a state income tax.
The Democrats act like what they propose will bring in lots of money, but not cost any real people anything. That of course, is flat wrong. Extending the sales tax will mean you and I will pay more. Businesses, like individuals, pay interest on late property tax payments and the loop-hole in the franchise tax amounts to $150 million a year - which is a drop in the bucket in a budge that exceeds $110 billion.
Once again, it tells us who has a majority in the legislature matters. If you want conservative legislation, elect conservatives in November who will vote our way in January 2003.
This Week's Investment Corner
"The world is sinking into deflation. Literally every stock market on the face of the globe is down substantially. As the recession moves on, nations will devalue their currencies in their effort to export. These competitive devaluations will ultimately be devaluations against the standard -gold."
"Foresighted investors understand this, and they will want to hold gold or gold shares as insurance against what I see as the ultimate decline of paper money. And if you own a gem-quality diamond ring, don't sell it. It's the next best thing to gold in my opinion."
Editor's comment. Richard Russell has got a great track record of being right. Check out the web site at www.dowtheoryletters.com. It's very interesting.
Races of the Week:
Dewhurst v. Sharp - Lt. Governor.
A battle royale between two who have served in state-wide offices. David Dewhurst has a great record of accomplishment at the land office, even reducing his budget. John Sharp is another so-called moderate Democrat (is that an oxymoron?) who has a reputation for efficiency as a government official. Dewhurst has already spent a small fortune and currently leads. The Sharp campaign will be competitive until November 5. This is a race that could go either way. Sharp is counting on convincing Republicans and swing voters to put him into office. Contact the David Dewhurst campaign at www.dewhurst.com or at (512) 236-9798.
Patterson v. Bernsen - Land Commissioner . This is another down ballot race that's not gotten a lot of attention. For the pro-gun community, Jerry Patterson is a hero, having led the way for a concealed weapon law in Texas. Patterson has already announced he'll run for re-election. This is the job he wants. He is not interested in any other office. Bernsen was an Ann Richards favorite who served on the Texas Transportation Commission and was in the Texas Senate representing the Beaumont area. Is he running solely because his Senate seat was redistricted - so he couldn't win? Conservatives have one choice - Jerry Patterson is ready to go. Contact Jerry's campaign at www.votepatterson.com.
Hensarling v. Chapman (CD 5 North Texas). This is one of the most competitive districts in America. The former Congressman Pete Sessions moved to a more Republican district. Jeb Hensarling is a former top aide to Senator Gramm and ran the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee. Chapman is a former state district judge and shares the name of a popular Dallas D.J. This is a challenging race with the Sanchez/Kirk machine working to turn out its base votes. The polls show Hensarling with a lead but not a big one. He needs your help. Contact the campaign at www.jebforcongress.org or at (214) 303-0020. This can be one of the few Republican pick-ups in Texas.
Another Interesting Article
Last week's Houston Press ran a cover story about a local "so-called" victim rights organization Justice for All called Justice for Some. This is an article worth reading. It tells the story of how an organization that started with good intentions has been led astray. View it at the Houston Press.
is a long time Republican spokesman, fund-raiser and leader who
recently completed three terms as the Harris County Republican
Chair. During his time as Chairman, Gary was described as the
most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events.
For six years, Gary put out a bi-weekly newsletter which he has
continued due to requests from many Republican activists.
Tune in Thursday
Nights - Houston Warner Cable channel 17 for the Texas Politics-The Real Deal
-the longest running political Houston area TV talk show featuring
your editor and left-wing Democrat, David Jones and special guests.
October 17 - Surprise guest
October 24 - Tom Reiser/Chris Bell
October 31 - Greg Abbott
November 7 - Post Election Review