in Houston, Texas
Texas Watchdog contests subpoenas issued by Steve Mostyn, powerful campaign mega-donor who was a subject in a recent Texas Watchdog story
Wednesday, Sep 22, 2010, 07:24PM CST
By Jennifer Peebles
When you do good watchdog journalism, holding people in public life accountable for their actions, you're bound to make some folks angry along the way. And some of those folks will try to strike back at you -- though often the worst thing they can do to you is cancel their subscription to your newspaper. 

That's not the case with someone Texas Watchdog wrote about recently. 

Houston trial lawyer and Democratic mega-donor Steve Mostyn's $25,000 campaign contribution to state Rep. Todd Hunter -- who was mediating a lawsuit involving some folks Mostyn represented -- is pretty angry at us about that story. And, being a prominent, wealthy, politically connected attorney, he can do a lot more than call us up and cancel his subscription.

He's taking us to court. 

On Friday, Mostyn subpoenaed the reporter on that story, Steve Miller, and our editor, Trent Seibert. Mostyn wants to take depositions from both men. The subpoenas come on the heels of Mostyn filing court papers accusing Texas Watchdog of doing political dirty work for Republicans.

Mostyn hasn't challenged the veracity of our story -- because it is accurate and based on public records. A champion of Democratic causes known for winning big settlements against insurance companies, Mostyn gave $25,000 to Republican Hunter, an advocate of tort reform.
 
Texas Watchdog is a small nonprofit news organization. We've only been around a couple of years. But we want our readers to know that we intend to fight back. 

We wrote and published a story on our website based on public records that was entirely accurate. This is still America. The First Amendment still guarantees freedom of the press and free speech.
 
Unhappy story subjects don't get to haul reporters into court over accurate stories they don't like even if they are prominent, wealthy, politically connected attorneys. 

I once heard a smart person say, "The way to fight free speech is with more free speech." Indeed, we gave Mr. Mostyn the opportunity to comment on the story. But rather than provide comment he issued subpoenas.

We may be small, but we won't be intimidated. Our attorney in this matter, First Amendment lawyer Joe Larsen of Houston, has asked the court to protect Steve and Trent from being deposed.

We'll keep you posted on how our case goes. In the meantime keep coming back to Texas Watchdog to see solid, hard-hitting watchdog journalism
.

Jennifer Peebles can be reached at 281-656-1681 or at jennifer@texaswatchdog.org.

Comments
Peggy Venable
Wednesday, 09/22/2010 - 05:36PM

Imagine that - a trial lawyer dragging someone into court to "shake you down." Sounds like you did a good job shining a light on his scam.

Peggy Venable
Wednesday, 09/22/2010 - 05:43PM

And isn't Todd Hunter a Republican? How can this trial lawyer accuse you of carrying water for the Republicans? I see your articles exposing corruption on both sides of the aisle. Sounds like intimidation to me...keep up the good work, guys! Taxpayers need watchdogs like you and shame on folks who try to silence you.

Joe
Wednesday, 09/22/2010 - 07:35PM

The original story said Texas Watchdog examined donations going back to 2000 and found no prior contributions to Hunter. It might be because Hunter wasn't a member of the Texas House until 2009. This article states that Hunter was chair of the House Committee on Civil Practices in 2003 and played a major role in passing the tort reform legislation. Hunter was not a member of the Texas House in 2003 and thus not a member of the House Committee on Civil Practices. Before you get on your high horse about writing "entirely accurate" stories, you should do some research first. Hunter was a registered lobbyist with 10 clients in 2003, it looks like he was working on county governance and day cruises and not tort reform. (all of this was done in 5 minutes of perusing the capitol and ethics commission website)

Jennifer Peebles
Thursday, 09/23/2010 - 08:26AM

Joe,

You're right, we got our facts wrong describing Rep. Hunter's legislative service in this editor's note, and we've made the correction above. We appreciate you reading and commenting.

-- Jennifer P.

free speech is not free
Thursday, 09/23/2010 - 10:00PM

Good luck to texas watchdog, but one thing you should know, Steve Mostyn will run your legal fees to over $100,000 in the first 6 months alone, and before it's over, you will be out $250,000 with a court order to take down anything related to Mostyn, or face contempt and time in jail. I hope you have deep pockets, or an attorney who will work for free. I don't know this Mostyn guy; he is probably the biggest prick in Texas with an ego to match, but he will take all our computer hard drives and IP addresses with a court order. I nice hard drive crash or virus should take care of the computer records. Everything else you could probably shove up Mostyn's ass!

Get real.
Friday, 09/24/2010 - 06:50PM

Mostyn isn't deposing you because of your story about him. Mostyn is deposing you because of your links to right-wing operatives. Links Trent acknowledged in an earlier article. If you think a man as powerful as Steve Mostyn gives two licks about your "journalism" then you really have lost it.

TexasDemocrat
Tuesday, 10/12/2010 - 10:54AM

Mostyn powerful? A redneck with money.

Don't only look up Steve Mostyn but look up his wife Amber

goto www.texasethics.org and search by contributor name

also there are various groups you should look into:

Texas Forward

Texas Trust

Coalition of Elected Officials (have a new name I believe)

Look at the damage caused by the Harris County Coalition of Elected Officials. Who funded them?

Get the come and take it flag, fly it proudly.

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