Saturday, May 26, 2012

Election Bullies

If you have a television set, you could not have missed the almost non-stop commercials attacking Mike “Tuffy” Hamilton. What’s happening to Tuffy is an example of legislative/lobbyist bullying.

Tuffy is an affable, East Texas boy with seniority in the Texas House of Representatives, respected by his peers and chair of one of the major committees. He is being attacked mainly by special interests for the sin of standing by his constituents.

In short, what this campaign is about is money and power. The Texans for Lawsuit Reform, (TLR) who have dropped millions in numerous races around the state, want to make an example of Tuffy for not having marched to the beat of their drummer. The critical vote in this case was the vote on whether to protect insurance companies or Tuffy’s constituents.

The Texas Windstorm Pool (TWIA) is an agency created to allow insurance carriers who offer homeowner insurance to escape the threat or risk of insuring homes against storm losses. Prior to the recent session of the Legislature, an investigation revealed the corruption and incompetence of the Texas Windstorm Pool. There were payoffs to adjusters, hiring of incompetents, ignoring of pleas from homeowners desperate to have their homes repaired from storm damage, and almost every abuse an insurance adjuster is capable of. Under the leadership of such lobby groups as TLR, instead of holding the managers of Texas Windstorm Pool responsible --and instead of taking insurance companies which fund this association to task-- the Legislature decided to simply insulate this insurer of last resort and reduce their liability while making it harder for homeowners, particularly those in Southeast Texas, to recover from storm damage.

Given a choice, Tuffy had the courage to stand up to this special interest and vote with his constituents. Unfortunately, Tuffy is paying the price of a tough campaign. Because the pro-insurance, anti-lawsuit lobby is so stout in Austin, many of our statewide leaders are afraid to cross them or stand up to them. This is evidenced by the fact that upon their urging, Governor Perry and other statewide elected officials have seen fit to attempt to tell Southeast Texans whom they should vote for in a state representative’s race. This makes the issue crystal clear. Either the people of Southeast Texas in Mike “Tuffy” Hamilton’s district will own a state representative; or the special interest lobby will own one.

To be kind, Mr. White, Tuffy’s opponent, made it extremely clear early after his election that he did not know his way around Austin. Rumor has it Representative White was shocked to learn the salary of a state representative was not the same as a United States congressman. And, his approach to politics appears to be to throw as much mud at Tuffy Hamilton as possible without offering one single solution to the multiple problems faced by the Texas Legislature. We have not heard from Mr. White on how he proposes to adequately fund education, colleges, provide money for new roads and highways in Texas, or deal with the medical needs of older Texans. 

Hopefully, folks here in Southeast Texas will have the sense to not be blinded by non-stop, negative television ads, and will instead consider the merits and reject the lobby idea of the Golden Rule–that is, “He who has the gold will rule.”

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