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.

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

Why Not Run For The U.S. Senate In 2020?

With many Democrats gunning for the White House in 2020 (the current count at 20+), the question that is increasingly popping up among grassroots Democrats is why some of these excellent candidates are not running for the U.S. Senate instead?

Every week we get stories from the mainstream media about how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is refusing to bring bills passed by House Democrats to a vote in the U.S. Senate. One would think, given these dire circumstances that Democrats would focus heavily on recapturing the U.S. Senate in addition to the White House in 2020. Strangely however, all the talk is about who is running for President, even though as mean as this sounds, some of these potentially excellent Senate candidates have zero chance of securing the Dem presidential nomination.

Yours Truly recently raised this very point on Twitter and the reaction was almost unanimous that some of these Democrats currently gunning for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, should focus instead on taking over the U.S. Senate.

In a recent post, Yours Truly laid out the 22 GOP Senators up for reelection in 2020 and the fact that everything remaining constant, Dems will need to flip at least 3 seats to recapture the U.S. Senate. Senators Susan Collins (Maine), Cory Gardner (Colorado) and by some estimates John Cornyn (Texas) are GOP Senators most pundits think could lose to a Dem opponent in 2020. Why for example shouldn’t John Hickenlooper, who by all accounts is struggling in his presidential campaign, go after Cory Gardner’s Senate seat instead?

The same question applies to Texans Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro re John Cornyn’s Senate seat, and Montana Governor Steve Bullock re Senator Steve Daines’ seat. Bottom line folks, as the Dem presidential contest chugs along, it would be helpful if the mainstream media, especially the cable TV punditry class starts asking some of the long shot candidates, why they should not be gunning for the U.S. Senate instead? Better yet, this would be an excellent question for the debate moderators at the next Dem debate in Detroit slated for the end of July

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Lindsey Graham’s Impeachment Hypocrisy

CNN’s Inside Politics has uncovered a 1999 video showing then Rep Lindsey Graham arguing for then President Clinton’s impeachment because as chief law enforcement officer, he had not only lied, but also encouraged others to lie for him. Essentially then Rep Graham was saying that by encouraging others to lie for him, Clinton(a Democrat) had obstructed justice and thus needed to be impeached. You will notice that President Trump(a Republican) is currently facing the exact, if not worse accusations, yet Sen Lindsey Graham is now against impeaching Trump.

https://youtu.be/GaBBsvuCbU4

Then Rep Graham specifically said, “He[Clinton] is the chief law enforcement officer in the land. He encouraged people to lie for him. He lied. I think he obstructed justice and I think there’s a compelling case that he has in fact engaged in conduct that would be better for him to leave office than to stay in office.”

Bottom line, Sen Lindsey Graham is up for reelection in 2020 and all indications are that he will cruise to victory. However if Democrats proceed with impeachment proceedings against Trump and expose Trump to have engaged in the same conduct Lindsey Graham wanted Clinton impeached for, the shameful hypocrisy might create an opening for Graham’s 2020 Dem challenger.

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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!

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Chief Justice Roberts Says SCOTUS Is Independent. Is It?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with C.J. John Roberts

In a rare public address Chief Justice Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court talked about the recent contentious Kavanaugh confirmation process and reiterated how important it is that the public views the High Court as independent. C.J. Roberts said regarding judicial independence, “Our role[Supreme Court] is very clear. We are to interpret the constitution and the laws of the United States and ensure that the political branches act within them. That job obviously requires independence from the political branches.”

The problem with that is the person at the center of the public’s disaffection with the Roberts Supreme Court, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has also recently spoken about the Roberts Court. Sen McConnell and by extension his GOP’s view of the Roberts Supreme Court is in stark contrast to what Chief Justice Roberts says. Specifically, there is no question that according to Sen McConnell and his GOP, they have fought hard to pack the Roberts Supreme Court with conservative judges for the express purpose of getting favorable decisions from the court..

Sen McConnell recently said at a press conference following Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court. “If you want to have a long term impact, and obviously all of us would like to do that, the single most significant way to do it is judicial appointments and my party has not been in this position all that long. You can go back 100 years and only 20 of the last 100 years have Republicans had the Presidency, the House and Senate the same time, and so these opportunities have not come along that often for us and I do think it is the most consequential thing that I’ve been involved in in my time as leader.”

So what is a regular American looking at Chief Justice Roberts’ remarks about judicial independence and Senator McConnell’s partisan political remarks about judicial appointments supposed to think? Why would Sen McConnell and his GOP block President Obama’s rightful nominee Garland and then ram through Kavanaugh if the end result was to have an independent Supreme Court? Reasonable people would agree that if the Supreme Court was truly independent as Chief Justice Roberts argues, there would be more consensus in the senate confirmation process. In other words the fact that the senate confirmation fights have become so bitter is in itself proof of a partisan Roberts Supreme Court.


Bottom line as Yours Truly said in an earlier post, the Roberts Supreme Court has a serious credibility problem. It is sad to say it but most Americans are more inclined to believe Sen McConnell’s narrative over that of C.J. Roberts–that Republicans have made the Roberts Supreme Court a conservative court with the express intention of using the High Court to advance their Republican agenda–a partisan political court. Simply put, there is no way any reasonable person looking at the way Sen McConnell blocked Obama’s nominee Garland, rammed Kavanaugh through, and then gave a press conference bragging about his legacy of steering the court to the right, can ever conclude that the Roberts Supreme Court is somehow an independent court.

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GOP Candidates Being Recruited To Primary Trump In 2020


Turns out that while Trump is flexing his political muscles promising his adoring fans that he will crush any future Democratic opponent, efforts are underway within his own GOP to primary him in 2020. According to a CNBC article, conservative columnist and prominent NeverTrumper Bill Kristol is apparently actively recruiting Republicans to primary Trump in 2020, a move that is certain to enrage the criticism averse Trump. He has apparently talked to Gov John Kasich(Ohio), Sen Ben Sassse(Neb) and Sen Jeff Flake(AZ) about a possible 2020 Trump primary challenge.


The NeverTrumpers have largely remained silent during Trump’s presidency but now with all the troubles, legal and otherwise, engulfing the Trump administration, they are starting to voice their opposition to his presidency again. This could prove highly problematic to the GOP establishment because Trump will certainly take opposition from within as “disloyal” rebellion and wage a fierce war against his critics.

Yours Truly, a political sage at this juncture has long predicted a GOP split before 2020 and this llatest development has all the markings of one.

My prediction however has been that it is Romney who will primary Trump and TrumpRussia will be central to his challenge

It will be interesting to see how the GOP civil war plays out as we approach 2020. Bottom line when it does finally happen just remind the cable TV pundits that grassroots @Emolclause called it a long time ago. Remember folks, it is Mitt Romney who will give Trump a run for his money, leading to the GOP split.

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Trump Obstructing Justice By Yanking Security Clearances


In case you missed it, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow made quite an interesting (and troubling) observation regarding Trump’s revocation of former CIA Chief John Brennan’s security clearance and his threat to do the same to other former U.S. Intel officials. Maddow correctly pointed out that all the former U.S. Intel officials Trump wants to strip of security clearances are involved in the ongoing TrumpRussia investigation and at some point in the near future may be called in by the Mueller team to testify. Revoking their security clearances in a way hinders their ability to testify against Trump–essentially an obstruction of justice. The full Maddow segment is available here but the relevant clip is below

Maddow’s astute observation is very important because the rest of her mainstream media colleagues continue to characterize Trump’s troubling actions regarding security clearances as just “crazy Trump being crazy Trump”–an erroneous and dangerous assumption. The mainstream media should instead take Trump’s actions on security clearances very seriously because as Maddow correctly points out, it is all part of Trump’s larger effort to thwart the TrumpRussia investigation which is inching closer and closer to him and his inner circle, including his family.


Even more troubling is the fact that the GOP-led congress knows full well of Trump’s intent in regards to security clearance revocations but does absolutely nothing. Even Senator Susan Collins, once considered a reasonable moderate, appears to condone Trump’s patently un-American actions regarding security clearances

Bottom line, congressional Democrats and the mainstream media must call out Senator Collins and her congressional GOP colleaoues for condoning Trump’s actions regarding security clearances while knowing full well that Trump’s true intention is to obstruct the ongoing TrumpRussia investigation. Simply put Senator Collins et al are aiding and abetting Trump’s blatant obstruction of justice–conduct unbecoming of members of congress.

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Extended #Dem2020Poll

[poll id=”6″]
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