April 16, 2014

A four-letter word for lawyers like #WendyDavis has her in trouble

Wayne Slater's latest love letter to Wendy Davis is a problem for her.

As Slater notes, she's not the first to use her business connections and her business as a state senator to make 2+2 add up to Ben Franklins.

However, she is the first to do so while running for governor, or other executive office.

Had she remained a state senator, things would have been different.

It's not just a Republican like John Carona, also lovingly mentioned by Slater.

Look at black state Senate powerhouses like Rodney Ellis of Houston and Royce West of Dallas, both like Davis, but unlike Carona, lawyers.

But, they're content to remain state senators.

The old Romans had a name for it, the person. In the legalistic Latin of the law profession, you can probably find the word "imberfex" somewhere.

I'll save you the Google search and translate directly what lawyers try to hide from you.

It's called "rainmaker."

While Texas' ethics laws are weaker than other states, and a legislature officially employed only every other year has lots of free time on its hands, surely other states have state legislators, whether actually lawyers or not, who are rainmakers.

But, they too didn't run for executive positions. Or if they did, they waiting many, many years, until they detached from their rain-receiving clients, or they had enough money to move on.

That's why Ellis and West will never run for statewide office. With West, about whom I know more, beyond the cash, it's the power. He, or careful friends of his outside of his office, will have connections to places like UNT-Dallas for decades to come.

(Also in Dallas, this is part of what tripped up famous, or infamous, County Commissioner John Wiley Price, setting aside that he's not an attorney. You put your hands too directly on the rainmaking levers and you wind up in trouble. You double that trouble, again, if you hold an executive position, which, arguably as just one of five in a county, counting the county judge, a commissioner is.)

At her "political boutique" law firm of Newby Davis, Davis, the elected official from the minority party, is more the rainmaker. Law firm partner Bryan Newby, formerly a general counsel for Gov. Rick Perry, brought connections with the majority party, as well as the cachet of being a black Republican.

Meanwhile, the Snooze has doubled down on Slater's story with an editorial. I presume Davis has grown enough that she won't sue over it, unlike with the StartleGram a decade or so ago. And,  yes, that happened.

Again, as my original blog post on this issue showed, it's in part about the state of Texas' officially toothlessness on ethics, a toothlessness that's been pretty much de rigeur since the first gusher at Spindletop if not before. This is also another reason why the Green Party shouldn't be negotiating with Dems about not fighting in the gubernatorial campaign this year.

My final take? I've hinted at this before, but I'll say it more directly now.

Wendy Davis reminds me of Barack Obama. She reminds me a LOT of him in this way — the promises of new politics that we already know, before the election, just aren't true.

Just.Another.Politician.™ (With the added burden of having to sled uphill here in Texas.)

And, just another reason to be honest about what terms like "progressive" and "liberal" mean. Also, as for Charles Kuffner's worries, I'm not jumping off a cliff because I never was on one in the first place.

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