Feb 21, 2007

corruption in every crevice: or, how to make a trial lawyer part with cash without even flinching

SVC Alumnus thinks a conspiracy is afoot.
I find very, atrociously [sic] concerning the donations, the bills and the timing. Put them all together and you've got a bona fide bad hacker trying to hack the source code of our legal system.
The charge is that the WEA is buying off the sponsors of pro-WEA legislation. The evidence: campaign contributions over the last six years. Five representatives, $15,075 over four election cycles.


Or not.

Imagine that the Democrats were hosting a crab feed, and everyone there got violently sick. In would rush Doctor Insta-Diagnosis, grabbing the first four victims and asking them if they ate crab legs. If they said "yes," Dr. I-D would declare the crab meat tainted.

Only a later investigation would discover the real culprit: potato salad.

If you're a real doctor, a real scientist, a real detective, you have to isolate, compare, eliminate all potential confounding variables. You can't just put the numbers up and point at them, especially if you want "comprehensive and unbiased facts."

Look at Joe McDermott's funding in the last election, for example. The $1400 from the WEA looks like a lot, until you compare it to the SEIU's $2100 and the Teamsters' $2075. The WEA's contribution is a paltry 2.35% of McDermott's cash infusion. Conspiracy!

(Of course, some folks think all unions are in a gigantic conspiracy, a band of brothers, and this is just more evidence. I invite them to sit in on a Lobby Day sometime, when we're all scrapping over scraps--just like brothers. And hey, SVC: for the real scoop, investigate the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe. What do they have to hide?)

Or, look at the WEA's total contributions in 2006. Almost two hundred entries. Like I've said, that's a lot of candidates and concerns. If that's corruption, it's pretty darn transparent.

It doesn't take much effort to drum up a conspiracy charge. Let's look at Timm Ormsby, who took $700 from "Western Washington Trial Lawyers for Victims Rights." He's also primary sponsor on a bill to revise "the requirements for, and recoveries under, a wrongful injury or death cause of action." Coincidence, or conspiracy? Wait a minute--who else is sponsoring the bill?
Larry Haler (R): clean.
Pedersen (D): clean.
Wood (D): clean.
VanDeWege (D): dirty.
Tom Campbell (R): dirty. Not even Republicans are immune.
Flannigan (D): dirty.
Kessler (D): dirty.
Williams (D): dirty.
Lantz (D): dirty.
In just 2006, Western Washington Trial Lawyers for Victims Rights spent at least $7,000--perhaps to pass HB 1873? Why "perhaps?" Conspiracy!

In fact, let's look closer. HB 1873 [pdf] widens the scope of legal victimhood in wrongful death or injury cases, and broadens the definition of personal injury, including
any noneconomic damages personal to the decedent including, but not limited to, damages for the decedent's pain and suffering, anxiety, emotional distress, loss of life itself, loss of enjoyment of life, shortened life expectancy, or humiliation, in such amounts as determined by a jury to be just under all the circumstances of the case.
The act wouldn't be just remedial, but retroactive. More money for victims, and more fees for attorneys.

We all know who the real beneficiaries will be, though. That's right: bloggers, flush with newfound celebrity for exposing the rotten apple core of Washington state politics.

In all seriousness, it truly stinks that so much money flows into campaigns, that there are strings attached to everything. Money talks, and everyone's willing to listen. Interest groups try to game the system.

The bright side: the PDC makes it easy to "follow the money." If you want to prove a legislator is corrupt, though, you have to give better evidence than a table of context-free dollar amounts.

Sidebar: Timm Ormsby also took $675 from the Washington Soft Drink Association. He's sponsoring a bill to require everyday exercise opportunities in school. Why ban soda when you can just mandate exercise instead, and continue to let the fat cats sell fat juice? Conspiracy!

Sidebar II: Speaking of beverages, I thought it strange that the Washington Beer and Wine Wholesalers were jumping in to contribute this year, until I saw a bill on Ormsby's list: HB 2076, which would allow a few establishments to "trial run" wine and beer tastings. Our sponsors, and their WBWW payola:
Conway: dirty for $2075 in 2006. (1375 in 2004.)
Williams: dirty for $350.
Condotta: dirty for $2075. ($1025 in 2004.)
Newhouse: dirty for $700.
Ormsby: clean.


Josef said...

You raise many good points and expose more corruption in the state legislature. There is NO reason why the legislation should be introduced by legislators in reciept of WEA donations at this time - this smells.

The point is: WEA money to state legislators... state legislators propose WEA-drafted legislation when WEA is up against the wall. I hope now you you see my point.

Jim Anderson said...

I know what your point is--but you can't see mine: that your "evidence" is based on insinuation, and, as I demonstrate, is not really evidence at all. There's a big difference between noticing a smell and finding the dead fish. You've achieved only the former.

If state legislators are so deep in the WEA's pocket, why are we having such a tough time preserving gainsharing? Let me paraphrase: "WEA money to state legislators... state legislators propose their own legislation to gut key WEA aims when WEA is up against the wall."

Or, money can't buy me love.

Josef said...

I think you'll keep gainsharing. But if I'm wrong, you're right about much of what you're saying. But I appreciate the discussion and am about to link to your pithy comments & post.

Josef said...

I responded to your latest comment on my blog and linked to you in a new post - see point b.

Jim Anderson said...

Thanks for continuing the conversation. I especially appreciate the call for civility. Just don't lump me in as a "leftist," and I'll remain calm and rational.

Josef said...

Okay :-).

Josef said...

I post the State Senators on the WEA dole...

I also linked to you as a courtesy.