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ttils ears ie utcAs-n -wrren ,Or ALL %.11616, rsAtfc A1iN PeShotlf 414t6taa r r… 11′ 101F V3114,.111110111. THE BACK PAGE The Thousand Dollar Man The Feds don’t print thousand-dollar bills any more but any re-issue might as well bear the likeness of House Appropriations Committee Chair Democrat Rob Junell. Junell still gets the small-denomination political gifts from the folks back home in San Angelo. But one advantage of running a money com mittee like Appropriations is that political contributions are easier to countbecause they’re bigger V ppropriations, a committee where every trade association wants to protect its interests, is a magnet for political action committee money. Of the $122,462 Junell raised between July and December of 1996, $49,750 was contributed by PACs which gave $1,000 or more. The biggest check was $10,000 from HUBPAC, put together to represent Lubbock’s business interests by John Montford before he left the Senate to become Chancellor at Texas Tech. And of the $63,875 Junell raised between January and July of 1996 counting only $1000+ contributions$17,000 was contributed by PACS or trade associations. What is available to the public in Texas Ethics Commission filings is names and numbers, but occasionally, a personal note suggests that you get a better hearing when you pay for it. “With the December deadline fast approaching, I felt like getting ‘the check in the mail,’ was important, and then getting on your calendar for a meeting at a later date,” wrote Lillie Gilligan of Glaxo Wellcome, a large pharmaceutical company with its own national PAC. Pfizer lobbyist Kenneth Ardoin added a personal apology to his letter covering a $1,000 check: “Sorry I didn’t get to your event. My heart was there and now here is my Money! Hope to see you soon!” And Austin lobbyists Doc Arnold and Mike Toomey even tried to get an extra bounce out of a cheesy $300 \(Toomey himself gave advise you that based on our recommendation Merck PAC USA has agreed to contribute $300. One of us will either deliver the check to you or mail it.” Labor and trial lawyers may try to buy their way in, but there aren’t enough of them to get an equity position in a guy like Junell. PACs mean business, and so does Rob Junell. These days, what businesses want is an end to all lawsuits filed against them. Ever since the National Federation of Independent Businesses began a coordinated national effort to dismantle the civil justice system ten years ago, there have been tort reform bills filed each session. The process has been gradual, but access to the courts has been steadily more limited. If you believe tort reform is finished, you’re probably one of those folks who held out hope that Ralph Nader would edge out Clinton and Dole in last year’s election. When Junell brought his third-party liability bill to the Civil Practices Committee, the overflowing hearing room looked like a mini-convention of lobbyists, most of them wearing stickers reading “Finish Tort Reform.” What they wanted was to make it next to impossible for an injured worker to receive a fair damage award in a personal injury suit, and to insulate corporations even more thoroughly from safety responsibility. Junell was happy to oblige. Junell is also co-author of a bill that will further limit non-Texans access to the Texas courts, even if the corporation to be sued maintains its headquarters in Texas and is clearly cul-pable of negligence in a personal injury. The bill, as it passed the Senate on March 18, would even allow judges to dismiss lawsuits already filed. No surprise there. The statewide Texans for Lawsuit Reform contributed $5,000 to Junell last year. And tort reforming lobbyist Mike Toomey \(a former House Member and Richard Weekly \(the Houston developer who has made tort reform a personal are othersas Senator Gonzalo Barrientos warned in an angry speech, these guys just keep coming back. As does the money: $242,796 raised and $165,449 spent during the last election cycle. With that kind of backing, if Rob Junell had had even one opponent file in the 1996 primary or general election, he would have killed him. 11] 32 THE TEXAS OBSERVER MARCH 28, 1997