If you have a television set, you could not have missed the almost nonstop commercials attacking Mike “Tuffy” Hamilton. What happened to Tuffy is an example of intolerance and legislative 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. Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR), having dropped millions in numerous races around the state, wants to make an example of Tuffy for not having marched to the beat of its drummer. The critical vote in this case was the vote of whether to protect insurance companies or Tuffy’s constituents. Texas Windstorm Insurance Association 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 TWIA. There were payoffs to adjusters, hiring of incompetents, ignoring of pleas of 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 TWIA responsible, and instead of taking insurance companies that fund this association to task, the Legislature decided to simply insulate this insurer of last resort and reduce its 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 paid 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, Gov. 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 Texans in Mike “Tuffy” Hamilton’s district will own a state representative, or the special interest lobby will own one.
To be kind, Mr. James White, Tuffy’s opponent, made it extremely clear early after his election that he did not know his way around Austin. Rumor has it Rep. White was shocked to learn the salary of a state representative was not the same as a United States congressman. His approach to politics appears to have been throw as much mud at Hamilton as possible without offering one single solution to the multiple problems faced by the Texas Legislature. We have not heard from White on how he proposes to adequately fund public education, colleges, provide money for new roads and highways in Texas, or deal with the medical needs of older Texans.
Well, folks in the newly formed District 19 have made their choice. They chose White over Hamilton. Inexplicable.
Carl Parker has practiced law in Port Arthur since 1958. He is a 1958 graduate of the University of Texas School of Law. Elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1962 and the Senate in 1976, Parker continued to practice law while writing and sponsoring hundreds of bills that became laws relating to every aspect of life in Texas, including many regarding consumer safety. His e-mail is cap1934 [at] aol [dot] com.