in Houston, Texas

Hunter accepted $25K from Dem mega-donor Mostyn's firm, then mediated firm's Ike lawsuit

by flickr user athrasher
Tuesday, Sep 14, 2010, 11:35AM CST
By Steve Miller

State Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, mediated a $189 million settlement for homeowners, including plaintiffs represented by Steve Mostyn, in the weeks after the prominent Democratic donor's firm gave $25,000 to Hunter's campaign.

In the weeks before he mediated a multimillion-dollar lawsuit over Hurricane Ike damage, state Rep. Todd Hunter received a $25,000 campaign donation from the leading firm in the case, state records show.

Hunter, a Corpus Christi Republican, received the contribution from the firm of Steve Mostyn, a Houston trial lawyer and major donor to Texas Democrats. Mostyn's firm led negotiations on behalf of 2,400 Galveston-area homeowners who had sued their insurer, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, which they said under-assessed damage their homes suffered from the 2008 storm.

Hunter mediated a $189 million settlement for the plaintiffs, which was announced in July. The Mostyn Law Firm exclaimed in a press release, “Our clients are excited with the results!”

In the release, Mostyn quoted the presiding judge, Susan Criss of the 212th District Court in Galveston: "I appreciate all of the hard work by the plaintiffs' lawyers, the TWIA lawyers and the mediator, Todd Hunter, put into mediating these cases over a period of six full days.”

 

It is unclear whether Hunter had already been confirmed as mediator at the time of the May 11 donation, but he had been put on the short list of potential mediators by late 2009, Criss said.

Todd HunterHUNTER

Criss, who received $5,000 in separate donations from Mostyn and the Mostyn Law Firm on Sept. 17 of last year, said Hunter was agreed upon as mediator by both parties earlier this year as the cases wound through the system.

Hunter also received a $10,000 donation on June 30 from another party connected to the suit as the case began mediation, Riley L. Burnett Jr., of the Houston firm Clark Burnett Love & Lee.

Burnett declined to comment on his contribution to Hunter, and Hunter did not return calls or e-mails last week. Mostyn declined to answer questions about his firm's donation or Hunter's role. Criss said she knew nothing of the donations from the litigators to Hunter.

Campaign finance records since 2000 show no previous donation from the Mostyn Law Firm or from Mostyn himself to Hunter.

In the role of mediator, Hunter was dealing with familiar faces at the the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association.

 

He had previously served as a lobbyist for TWIA.

 

As of late last year, he was serving on the legislature's Windstorm Insurance Legislative Oversight Committee. The committee received a Dec. 10 letter from the general manager of TWIA, Jim Oliver, pertaining to the caseOliver defended his group against a volley of claims from Mostyn and cited the $86 million in legal fees alone demanded by Mostyn's firm.

"We wholly disagree with the pleaded accusations, dispute the basis and contextual accuracy of the 'factual' references, and regret the general hysteric tone of the petition and media coverage. You will no doubt see additional inflammatory allegations from Mr. Mostyn."

Hunter is assured of keeping his House seat this year, with no opponents in the March primary or the November election.

First elected to the legislature in the late '80s, Hunter has been an outspoken advocate for lawsuit reform, and in 2008 received more than $60,000 in campaign donations from Texans for Lawsuit Reform. In October, Hunter was praised by the group for standing up to trial lawyers.

Texans for Lawsuit Reform spokeswoman Sherry Sylvester said that the organization was not concerned about the Mostyn donation.

Sylvester said that Hunter had a history -- as a Democrat and later as a Republican -- of being "a leader in the tort reforms first proposed by TLR" as well as "opposing numerous trial lawyer initiatives."

"TLR deeply appreciates Todd Hunter’s leadership on the critical issue of lawsuit reform," Sylvester said. "We believe he will continue his principled commitment to a fair and predictable civil justice system that improves access to health care and contributes to a strong pro-growth business environment in our state."

Hunter's stance has been starkly different from Mostyn's, who has made a career off punishing insurers and other corporations for practices that hurt his clients and is in line to become president of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association.

Mostyn told the Austin American-Statesmanwhich profiled him in July, that his professional motivation is to help individuals go up against powerful interests.

"The reason I'm a trial lawyer is I believe in individual access to courts and that the little guy should get a fair shake against an insurance company or a big corporation," Mostyn told the newspaper.

 

The Ike settlement has become part of a political tug-of-war between Mostyn and Republican Rep. Larry Taylor, who is seeking information on the individual cases that composed the suit.

Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org. Trent Seibert contributed to this story.

Photo of money by flickr user athrasher, used via a Creative Commons license.

Comments
Robbie C
Wednesday, 09/15/2010 - 08:55AM

There are more-than-enough dirty Demcorats to fill a landfill here in Texas. The last thing we need is another dirty Republican to add to the pile.

Mr. Hunter had to have known of this obvious conflict of interest. If he didn't, he's too stupid to be a state rep. If he did now, then he's just another dirty politician.

Either way, he should return the $25K and then immediately announce his resignation.

DMS
Wednesday, 09/15/2010 - 08:52PM

Rob,

You may want to consider serving and see how long it would take you to resist the temptations. I do not know of anyone who could stand against all the opportunities of power, wealth, and pleasure.

Video
KTRK: On Big Screens for Billionaires, Comptroller Susan Combs Silent
Related Blogs and Media
State Rep candidate, in email, shows scorn for Republican Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson I suppose it’s not much of a shock to her supporters but Texas House District 150 Republican candidate Valoree Swanson is no fan of...
Update:4 hours 50 min
Big Jolly Politics
Leaked email shows current & former ESD 11 Commissioners asked to serve on voter guide panel Two current & two former Harris County Emergency Services District 11 Commissioners are among the group of 26 people asked to...
Update:7 hours 13 min
Big Jolly Politics
Don't gloat that Texas is ahead on forensic-science reform Meagan Flynn at the Houston Press is right that Texas is ahead of the feds and the rest of the country right now on forensic science...
Update:14 hours 53 min
Grits for Breakfast
Houston Home Listing Photo of the Day: The Defensive Line 926 Robbie St. [HAR] … Read...
Update:1 day 2 hours
Swamplot
Ivy Lofts To Release Even Newer Drawings in October, Break Ground in January Actually, the rendering above is not the newest look for the Ivy Lofts, PR head Jared Anthony tells Swamplot this afternoon. Anthony says...
Update:1 day 3 hours
Swamplot
BJ’s Oldies Not Pulling Out of Westheimer at Park St., Just Shifting Around a Little This morning a reader spotted some cleaning out going on at the Westheimer Rd. storefront of BJ’s Oldies Antiques. The shop...
Update:1 day 6 hours
Swamplot
With poll numbers stagnant, Stein and Johnson spend big in August Libertarian White House candidate Gary Johnson had a fundraisinig boomlet in August; he hopes to build poll numbers so he can participate...
Update:1 day 6 hours
Open Secrets
Larry Lessig takes his plan to Congress Lawrence Lessig pushed public funding and voucher programs at a discussion on campaign finance this week. (AP Photo/Jim Cole) Lawrence...
Update:1 day 8 hours
Open Secrets
Swamplot Sponsor: Central Bank Today’s sponsor: Houston’s own Central Bank. Swamplot appreciates the continued support! Central Bank has 4 (central) Houston...
Update:1 day 8 hours
Swamplot
Oyster Tycoons Fight over Baybottom Territory as Reefs Recover from Flooding More action is expected next week in the Galveston County courtroom hosting part of the ongoing underwater real estate fight...
Update:1 day 9 hours
Swamplot
Tweets
Karen Townsend | 4 years 3 months
"Patrick F. Kennedy is a career foreign service officer" - http://t.co/GOrCe0IS
Peter Corbett ✈ | 4 years 3 months
I'm at McCarran International Airport (LAS) w/ @almacy http://t.co/KvmId07i
KERA Public Media | 4 years 3 months
TONIGHT at 7pm on KERA TV: Presidential Debate: Learn more at PBS NewsHour. http://t.co/Z9kYdun8
PBS MediaShift | 4 years 3 months
Tech Snafus Make Bill O'Reilly/Jon Stewart 'Rumble' More of a Stumble http://t.co/4OfeBlrG (@kegill | @pbsmediashift) #rumble2012
Will Sullivan | 4 years 3 months
Great addition, been burned too much by bad subs. "Google Play Announces Free Trials For In-App Subscription Services" http://t.co/TOLgRVak
TxDOT | 4 years 3 months
I-35W/North Tarrant Express #constantcontact http://t.co/QDzrQumu
keyetv | 4 years 3 months
Serial shotgun robbers suspects arrested. http://t.co/ka8T4U9B
Karen Townsend | 4 years 3 months
Aren't State Dept career people suppose to be non-partisan? Not the political appointees, the career people. #Libya
© 2016 TEXAS WATCHDOG and USELABS. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use and Privacy Statement