Monday, June 05, 2006

Whatever happened to candidates speaking for themself?

As I was sitting in the car today, stuck on the Bay Bridge coming back from early morning doctor's appointment, I was bombarded with election ads on the radio. One in particular kept playing over and over, or it seemed that way (or perhaps it was because I was channel surfing to get away from it).

It was for a candidate, John Dutra. It extolled his virtues, including mentioning how he managed to shake off his welfare past to become a successful entrepeneur. And then at the end, it stated that the ad was paid for by the Civil Justice Association.

So who is the Civil Justice Association? I went and looked them up on the web, since I was curious, and found out that they are a group that is interested in "tort reform". They are decrying in a May 24, 2006, press release how the "trial lawyers" are trying to buy the election for their friend by getting together and contributing $350,000.00 to the campaign of Dutra's rival, Ellen Corbett. (According to However, what the Civil Justice Association is not trumpeting in their press release is how much they are spending to get their friend elected. According the Contra Costa Times article, Civil Justice Association has dumped $300,000.00 into the race on Dutra's behalf, even if not into his coffers. Oddly enough, I do not see that little contribution trumpeted anywhere on the Civil Justice Association website.

So who is the Civil Justice Association? It is a political action committee sponsored by big business, in particular the oil and pharmaceutical companies. They're goal is to, among other things, protect busineses from litigation by capping damages, establishing bars to punitive damages under the rubric that "I only did what the government said to do", and weakening unfair compeition law - the laws which consumers have to protect themselves from unscrupulous business practices.

When they talk about the predatory trial lawyers out to sue everyone, think about what they really want to protect. They want to insulate Chevron, and other chemical/oil, companies from contaminating the environment. They want to eliminate the threat of punitives which punish coporations that demean, degrade, and poison people.

Makes one think twice about who they would vote for if the backers are the ones trying to escape liability.

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