Did Koch Industries Bribe Cornyn As Texas AG?

An interesting Texas Monthly piece from way back in 2000 suggests that then Texas Attorney General John Cornyn went easy on the powerful Koch industries after they polluted Texas waters in return for their support for him during his 1998 campaign.

John Cornyn was a judge at the Texas Supreme Court from 1991 to 1997 and was elected Texas Attorney General in 1998. Prior to his stint at the Texas Supreme Court, Cornyn was a judge at the Texas 37th District Court.

According to the Texas Monthly piece, pipelines belonging to Wichita-based Koch Industries leaked oil products into the waters of Texas and several other states. The federal government went after Koch Industries for violations of the Clean Water Act and several states including Texas joined the lawsuit. Texas attorney General at that time was Dan Morales (Cornyn’s predecessor). AG Morales is famous for the major win he scored against the Tobacco industry that netted the Lone Star state a staggering $17.3 billion in fines from Big Tobacco.

It is against the backdrop of AG Morales’ win against Big Tobacco that Koch Industries backed John Cornyn’s candidacy for Texas AG–in essence to shield themselves from having to pay astronomical fines to the Lone Star state as Big Tobacco did. So you say, “OK @Emolclause you’re really grasping at straws here. Cut to the chase and explain how Koch Industries recruited Cornyn to avoid paying astronomical fines to the Lone Star state after polluting its waters.” Here it is in a nutshell.

As the Texas Monthly piece correctly points out, going after Big Tobacco, Big Oil etc in court usually involves very complex litigation that requires a battery of “cream of the crop” attorneys. Needless to say, such attorneys charge astronomical fees for their services–fees that most state elected officials(AGs) feel uncomfortable paying using taxpayer funds. What most states end up doing therefore (at least before AG Cornyn came along) is that they enter into agreements with these smart attorneys whereby the attorneys take on the complex litigation without any payment from the state in return for a share(percentage) of the fines they recoup from the offending company. In the case of Big Tobacco for example where Texas netted an astronomical $17.3 billion in fines, the attorneys in the case ended up getting paid a whopping $3.3 billion.

AG Morales attempted to duplicate his success against Big Tobacco in his fight against Koch Industries by using the same technique of a battery of smart attorneys not paid by the state. Koch Industries backed Cornyn’s campaign for Texas AG in 1998, donating $5000 to his campaign. Cornyn went on to win the election in 1998 and when he became AG, immediately began fighting the practice of using “outside” lawyers for complex litigation like the one the state was pursuing against Koch Industries. Cornyn wanted only state attorneys(from the AG’s office) to handle the complex litigation against Koch Industries and others–an obvious legal advantage to the big companies. He used the straw argument that the staggering $3.3 billion paid to attorneys in the Big Tobacco case should have ended up in the state’s coffers instead.

What ended up happening is that the high-powered attorneys AG Morales had lined up to go to trial against Koch Industries left and the Lone Star state was forced to accept a paltry $35 million settlement from Koch, a settlement that deeply angered environmentalists. Most experts agree that had Cornyn allowed Morales’ attorneys to take Koch to trial, they were looking at a possible $225 million or more in fines. Obviously some of the $225 million would have gone to pay the attorneys’ fees but the Lone Star state would still have ended up with more than the paltry $35 million “slap on the wrist” settlement Cornyn got. Therefore Koch essentially backed Cornyn as AG in order to save themselves from paying astronomical fines to the state for polluting its waters. Sad indeed!!

Cornyn when confronted about this “slap on the wrist” settlement against Koch industries reportedly answered that it was “pretty darned good for a Republican.” In other words he did not aggressively pursue Koch Industries as much as he should because they traditionally supported Republicans.

Even more troubling is the fact that Cornyn assailed his GOP primary opponent in the Texas AG race for engaging in the exact similar conduct he was now excusing–taking money(contributions) from a company the Texas AG’s office was pursuing in court. This means Cornyn knew what he was doing was unethical but did it anyway.

It also cannot be left unsaid that the Texas Monthly piece accused John Cornyn of “playing politics with the law at the expense of the public interest.”  This is especially instructive now that he is running for reelection in 2020. Hopefully his Dem challengers will dig into this excellent Texas Monthly piece to dig up other troubling aspects of John Cornyn’s political career

Bottom line, Texas has always been assumed to be a reliably “red state” by much of the national mainstream media and indeed by some establishment Democrats. Yours Truly challenged this notion back when nobody thought Beto O’Rourke had any chance against Ted Cruz and we saw what happened. The same needs to happen with John Cornyn, whose long record both in Texas politics and as U.S. Senator provides ample oppo-research fodder for his prospective Dem challenger. Yours Truly will certainly do his part to expose John Cornyn for the corrupt politician he has always been, beginning with this shady deal he did for Koch Industries against the best interests of the Lone Star state.

For those of you very happy with @Emolclause’s activism don’t shy away from the “tip jar” below on your way out.

You may reach the author via email at author@grassrootsdempolitics.com or author@emolumentsclause.com

Top Trump Donors In The Houston Area

A firestorm erupted recently after Rep Joaquin Castro(D-TX) shared on his tweeter feed the names of prominent Trump donors who come from his home city of San Antonio, Texas. Republicans swiftly fired back at Rep Castro, accusing him of among other things, endangering the lives of the said Trump donors given the fact that emotions in Texas are still raw after the racist El Paso shooting. Sen John Cornyn(R-TX) led the assault on Rep Castro lashing out with this angry tweet.

Naturally, Rep Castro’s move left Yours Truly wondering. “Hmm–I wonder who are Trump’s biggest donors from the Houston, Texas area”. A simple google search led Yours Truly to this October 9, 2018 Houston Business Journal piece aptly titled, “See which Houstonians have donated the most to Trump’s 2020 campaign.” The Houston Business Journal piece has a slide listing some 25 prominent Houstonians, their business ties, and the dollar amounts they have contributed towards Trump’s 2020 campaign–excellent work.

It would be an exercise in redundancy to go through all the names listed in the slide and Yours Truly will certainly not do that. However there are some very prominent Houston personalities that deserve a separate mention chief among them, Jeffery and Melinda Hildebrand of Hillcorp Energy Company. Businessman Farouk Shami, a Palestinian-American and a staple in Houston’s hair products industry also caught Yours Truly’s attention. James Brookshire of S & B, one of the largest construction companies in the world is also on the list. As the article correctly points out, Ivanka Trump visited S & B’s offices in Baytown, Texas in September 2018 as part of her initiative to promote industrial craft training (a testament to S & B’s clout in the construction industry). Last but not least, Jim Flores, a big name in Houston’s oil and gas industry also caught Yours Truly’s attention.

It is fair to assume that because Rep Castro was severely criticized for sharing the names of Trump’s San Antonio donors, Yours Truly will also face similar criticism. For the record Yours Truly totally agrees with the reasoning given by Team Castro when defending their actions. Team Castro correctly pointed out that this is already public information that can be easily accessed on the FEC website so nobody is being “outed”. Yours Truly is further insulated from attacks by the fact that he is simply referencing a Houston Business Journal article that has been out there since 2018. If nobody raised an “outing” issue with the Houston Business Journal piece, then nobody should raise similar issues with this blog post.

Aside from the fact that this is already public information and therefore no donor is being “outed”, reasonable people will also agree that the Trump Presidency has led to the rise of hate groups–especially White Supremacy groups. Some of these groups have openly expressed support for Trump. Reasonable people will also agree that Trump has not done nearly enough to totally disavow the kind of politics that divides Americans along racial lines. As a matter of fact several paid TV pundits have come out and openly accused him of running a presidential campaign based on racism. It is therefore very important for people, certainly Houstonians, to know who is funding his campaign. Whether the people funding his campaign endorse the attendant racism is a different question altogether. The point is, it is in the public’s interest that people know who is funding him.

Bottom line as we approach 2020 the public needs to know where this President stands in regards to these hate groups. Unless and until he comes out and forcefully condemns these hate groups both in his deeds and his words, then the list of prominent Houstonians who continue to send him large donations will remain a topic of great interest and they will quite frankly be viewed by many as sponsors of hate.

For those of you very happy with @Emolclause’s activism don’t shy away from the “tip jar” below on your way out.

You may reach the author via email at author@grassrootsdempolitics.com or author@emolumentsclause.com

The 22 GOP Senators Up For Reelection In 2020

22 GOP U.S. Senators are up for reelection in 2020. This gives a tremendous advantage to Democrats who only have to defend 12 Senate seats, especially given the concerns a lot of Americans have about the Trump presidency in battleground states. Below is a Handy List of the 22 GOP Senators up for reelection in 2020

As it currently stands the U.S. Senate comprises 52 Republicans and 46 Democrats with 2 Independents who caucus with Democrats, so technically 52-48. To take over the U.S. Senate in 2020, Democrats will need a net gain of 3 Senate seats–a very achievable goal.

Of the 12 Senate Democrats up for reelection, Doug Jones of Alabama is the most vulnerable. The other 11 are in states that typically lean Democratic.

On the Republican side the most vulnerable Senators are Susan Collins(ME), Cory Gardner(CO) and Martha McSally(AZ) plus there are two open seats in Kansas and Tennessee where the incumbent Republicans have chosen not to run in 2020.

It’s also worth pointing out that even though Texas has traditionally voted Republican in Presidential cycles, the recent cliffhanger between Beto O’Rouke and Republican senator Ted Cruz means incumbent Senator John Cornyn’s seat is not a sure bet for Republicans in 2020. This means Dems have a very good shot at flipping 4-5 GOP senate seats in 2020

Bottom line, 2020 presents Democrats with a great opportunity to recapture the U.S. Senate. Dems however must not be complacent but instead contest every U.S. Senate seat to get as close as possible to the magic 60 number.

For those of you very happy with @Emolclause’s activism don’t shy away from the “tip jar” below on your way out.

You may reach the author via email at author@grassrootsdempolitics.com or author@emolumentsclause.com

Its Officially “Operation Defeat John Cornyn” In Texas

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)

After Democrat Beto O’Rourke’s heart-breaking loss to incumbent GOP Senator Ted Cruz, many Texas Democrats are left wondering what to do with the groundswell political energy generated by the highly inspiring Beto campaign. Many including Yours Truly are yet to accept Ted Cruz’s “win” given the troubling reports that the eSlate voting machines switched some Beto votes to Ted Cruz. There has been no follow up on this story by the mainstream media or #TeamBeto as to exactly how many votes were switched by the eSlate machines meaning we are stuck with Senator Ted Cruz for the next six years.


The good news however is that Texas Democrats have a fresh opportunity to avenge Beto’s heart-breaking loss to Ted Cruz. The other U.S. Senator from Texas, John Cornyn is up for re-election in 2020 meaning Texas Democrats have a perfect opportunity to take out all their frustrations over Beto’s loss on him. Sen Cornyn is also Mitch McConnell’s right hand man in the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate which should provide added impetus for Texas Dems to vote him out in 2020. Simply put, its officially “Operation Defeat John Cornyn” in Texas.

Also good news for Texas Democrats is that the Harris County Clerk(Houston area) is now a Democrat and she has already promised to phase out the problematic eSlate machines before 2020. There is also tremendous momentum in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio regions that vote heavily Democratic to come up with more reliable voting machines before the 2020 elections.

Bottom line, it appears we have lost the fight over Ted Cruz’s seat. We should therefore start focusing our energy on the upcoming 2020 fight against Senator John Cornyn and make sure we flip that senate seat blue. It will be very interesting to see which Texas Democrat steps up to the plate to take on Senator John Cornyn in 2020. Will it be Beto 2.0, Lizzie Pannill Fletcher(TX-07), former NFL linebacker Colin Alred(TX-32), or….? Folks there are a lot of quality Dems to go up against Senator Cornyn in 2020. We must flip Cornyn’s senate seat blue!

For those of you very happy with @Emolclause’s activism don’t shy away from the “tip jar” below on your way out