Current totals look to repeat the trend
She said, too, that she should not have said the percentage held “for over a decade” without checking the party’s finance reports for 2002 through 2004, which she did before following up with us by email.
From 2002 through 2010, Sylvester said, the state party fielded nearly $15.7 million in contributions, not counting contributions from federal Democratic committees such as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee clearly made in connection with federal races, which Sylvester said is not her focus.
Sylvester said $11.75 million, or 75.4 percent of the adjusted total, came from personal-injury trial lawyers or groups steered by them, such as the Texas Democratic Trust, which was a political committee guided by the late Fred Baron, a Dallas lawyer. She later stressed that conclusions should not be reached for 2012 until end-of-year finance reports are filed in January 2013, though rolling in available information for the year only mildly reduces the overall percentage, to 74.7 percent.
Next, we made our own run at identifying such contributions to the party from 2002 through fall 2012. This tally is imperfect given that we prob- ably failed to catch some donations or, conversely, filter them out. We also did not research how many contributions were returned to the donor.
At any rate, our calculation is that nearly $14 million of more than $18 million given to the party, or 75 percent, came from trial lawyer interests.
Notably, though, the party’s draw from such contributors fluctuated year to year.
In 2002, an election year that included every legislative seat and races for statewide office including governor and the U.S. Senate, more than 70 trial lawyer-connected contributions accounted for about $5.4 million, or 81 percent, of the party’s $6.7 million in contributions.
In 2003, by our calculation, such contributions dipped to 26 percent of about $509,000 donated to the party. Such contributions accounted for 36 percent of the party’s donations in 2004 and 24 percent in 2005.
Our ruling: Sylvester wrote that for more than a decade, personalinjury trial lawyers have accounted for more than 80 percent of the Texas Democratic Party’s contributions. When we inquired, she pegged the percentage at 75 percent — what we found as well. So the published percentage is an exaggeration, though certainly trial lawyers have been dominant party benefactors. We also found that personal-injury attorneys didn’t consistently account for more than 80 percent of party receipts.
We rate the claim as Mostly True.