Craig-Eiland-Twia-narrowConflicts of Interest

May 16, 2011 | Blog

Representative Craig Eiland (D) warns against conflicts of interest, a topic he knows about from experience.

Last week Representative Vicki Truitt's (R-Keller) payday loan measure drew fire from Gary Elkins (R-Houston). Elkins works in the payday loan industry, a fact he noted before speaking against Truitt's bill. He also noted that the bill was overly burdensome to small lenders and that it was a solution looking for a problem.

Covering the story for the Houston Chronicle, Patricia Kilday Hart interviewed Craig Eiland (D-Galveston) to see if Elkins had done anything wrong.

"He made the issue about him and his business," [Eiland] said. "If we voted for him, it would look like the rest of the body was trying to protect another member's business."

A lecture from Eiland on conflicts of interest is comical. In 2009 Eiland voted on a motion to suspend rules for SB 14, a bill that altered Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA). At the time, Eiland had a personal lawsuit pending against TWIA in which he was represented by Steve Mostyn. Mostyn went on to fund Democrat campaigns in 2010, in part with money earned from TWIA settlements.

Eiland filed House Bill 4097 in 2009 to keep the class action windstorm cases from an MDL judge, causing the windstorm cases to remain in local control instead of state control. Mostyn spoke in favor of the bill and Judge Susan Criss spoke on the bill. Criss was the local judge in question.

Fianlly, Eiland was co-counsel on around 350 law suits that were part of the $189 million TWIA settlement.

Lawmakers have conflicts of interest, some are more egregious than others and too many like Eiland's go wholly unreported.

Daniel Greer

Daniel Greer is Executive Director of AgendaWise. Previously, Daniel worked for Empower Texans, a non-profit direct advocacy group focused on fiscal policy in Texas. He holds a B.A. in Government from the University of Texas at Austin. A native Texan, Daniel is a member of Redeemer Presbyterian Church and lives in Bastrop County with his wife Karen, their children Griffin and Julian, Willa Lou. You can reach him at [email protected]