By Jacqueline Brown
Killeen Daily Herald
Over the past two weeks, District 54 state representative candidate Dan Corbin has been singled out by Texans for Lawsuit Reform, a political action committee established to promote tort reform.
Texans for Lawsuit Reform is using its considerable wealth to oppose my candidacy for District 54 state representative because I will be a voice for change in the Texas Legislature, Corbin said in a news release. TLR has mailed two fliers throughout District 54 incorrectly implying that I am misleading voters about my opposition to Proposition 12 and my experience as a certified public accountant.
Corbin said he met with TLR Executive Director Matt Welch in early January and explained his goal of reforming the Texas civil justice system to stop frivolous lawsuits and to improve the fairness of the system.
My plan would benefit individuals and small businesses not special-interest groups like insurance companies, banks, hospitals, medical associations and big business, he said. TLR does not want fairness and justice; it wants legislation that increases the profitability of its benefactors.
In addition, Corbin said he explained to Welch his desire to sponsor legislation to lessen the corrupt political influence of organizations such as TLR that provide unlimited political contributions to elected politicians who will vote with them. Corbin said that when Welch left his office, he got the distinct impression that Welch knew he was a threat to political action committees because he could get something done with campaign finance reform.
I thought what they would do is support one of my opponents, Corbin said. I didnt think they would come after me.
The first flier had the message Sorry Dan ... real Republicans dont mislead one another, referring to Corbins opposition of Proposition 12.
However, Corbin said he was on the radio every Saturday morning debating Proposition 12, which granted the Texas Legislature the authority to cap noneconomic damages in health care liability cases. The constitutional amendment passed in 2003 with a narrow margin of 51 to 49 percent.
The second flier attacked Corbin concerning his qualifications as a CPA. It said the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy suspended Corbins license for five years in 1995 for failing to meet the minimum continuing education standards set by the state. However, Corbin said he exceeded the mininum standards by 90 hours.
All that happened was in 1995 I decided not to renew my CPA license, he said. If you do not submit your license fee and your hours they send you a letter saying your license has been suspended.
Corbin said he decided to renew his license when he discovered that he had colon cancer. He had a $250,000 group term life insurance policy with the Texas Society of CPAs. He said the organization would have dropped his membership if he didnt get his license renewed.
They are making a mountain out of a molehill, he said. They are spending limitless money against me because they are worried sick that Im going to go down there and make some changes.
District 54 candidate Jimmie Don Aycock said he disagrees with Corbin about lawsuit reform, but he thinks the attacks are inappropriate.
I think that in general single-issue politics works to the detriment of our democracy, he said. Its unfortunate when any group outside the district decides to take a stand thats just as harsh as they can make it on a single issue and ignore any other stance that the candidate has.
Candidate Hans Dersch said the fliers do seem a little mean-spirited, but hes sure Corbin can take it.
Hes coming out and saying Hey guys, Im a rattlesnake, Dersch said. If everyone votes for that and he wins, we can only blame ourselves.
Dersch said the truth is people are sick of lawsuits and scared to death of losing everything they have.
I dont think he can win with that position, he said. I dont understand why TLR is spending so much time and energy going after him when hes already committed political suicide by having that platform.
Dersch said tort reform hasnt gone far enough.
Unless you are intentionally trying to hurt someone, you shouldnt have to fear losing your livelihood and everything that youve worked for, he said.
Meanwhile, candidate Dale Hopkins said hes going to take the high road and avoid smear campaigns and negative advertisement campaigns.
They just give you half the story, and some percentage will believe that, he said. That can change elections.
Hopkins said in the old days it seemed like there was more honor and respect for candidates in a political campaign.
District 54 residents who wish cast their ballots in the Republican or Democratic primaries can vote March 7 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in their respective polling locations.
Contact Jacqueline Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org