$90,000 is a lot of money, $2,800,000 is a lot more money

Friday, October 15, 2004

By Daniel P. Mehan


Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry

JEFFERSON CITY -- In the 2002 election cycle, Missouri Chamber PAC, the political action affiliate of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, raised and spent roughly $90,000. In the same election, Missouri trial attorneys spent a staggering $2.8 million on state senator and state representative races.

The 2002 election and the subsequent legislative session showed that our position on issues is the direction the electorate and the new legislature want to take. The 2004 election cycle is in full gear now, and there is much more at stake than in 2002. From the presidential election down the ticket, Missouri has many important decisions to make.

The U.S. Senate seat, the governorship, four other statewide offices and control of the legislature will be decided. We must counter the massive war chest that our foes are fueling to defeat legislators committed to progress on tort reform, workers' comp reform and other critical issues.

Trial attorneys across Missouri realize what is at stake. A review of campaign finance reports filed to date tell the story:

More than $3 million has already been donated by Missouri trial lawyers, just through the August primaries -- with heavier giving expected in October in order to jump-start the McCaskill campaign.

Six individual trial attorneys have each given more than $100,000 in campaign donations. Seventeen have given more than $50,000. And a staggering 48 trial attorneys have given at least $10,000. These are the people who make millions of dollars filing frivolous lawsuits against your company.

More than $500,000 of trial attorney money has been directed to accounts aligned with Rep. Rick Johnson's political interests. Johnson, the minority floor leader, is a trial attorney himself. He has his ambitions set on retaking the majority and becoming speaker of the House, a result that would signal the end of tort reform efforts.

It is easily conceivable that the trial attorneys will spend more than $7 million during this election cycle.

This is alarming. Trial attorneys are attempting to buy influence in the Missouri state legislature in the most aggressive fashion that has ever been witnessed. They treat political spending as part of their business budget so they can preserve a judicial system that places employers at an extreme and dangerous disadvantage in the areas of law such as product liability, workers' compensation and medical malpractice.

To date in 2004, Missouri Chamber PAC has raised more than $180,000.

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