twia-jim-dunnam-steve-mostynJim Dunnam, launches anti-TWIA reform website

September 21, 2011 | Blog

A new political website called twiatruth.com is up and running, property of people who made a killing on a controversial $189 million TWIA settlement.

TWIA has been a boon to the Texas Democratic Party at the expense of Texans. Now that legislation has passed that begins to reign in this quasi-private, quasi-public creation of the Texas government, Jim Dunnam is creating propaganda to push against the new rules.

Twiatruth.com is a project of the Texas Small Business Alliance, which is a project of the Texas First Foundation. Texas First Foundation is former Democratic State Rep. Jim Dunnam’s ‘continuing public political presence’ project started after Marva Beck ousted him from the Texas House in the November 2010 elections. Dunnam was a Democrat power broker in the Texas House, and is considered a primary mover in getting Tom Craddick ousted as House Speaker in favor of Joe Straus.

Jim Dunnam was co-counsel on many of the TWIA lawsuits headed by trial lawyer Steve Mostyn,  President of the Texas Trial Lawyer Association (TTLA) and huge Texas Democratic donor. Another lawyer from Dunnam and Dunnam, John Mabry, was co-counsel on many others. Some say TTLA is the Texas Democratic Party. The claim is a term of art but not far from the mark.

In a Texas Tribune story about Dunnam’s Texas First Foundation from March of this year, Dunnam said, “My job is not to elect Democrats anymore.”

Twiatruth.com would suggest otherwise.

The website criticizes new laws passed concerning the Texas Windstorm Insurance Agency in response to the TWIA settlement, which was both massive and very questionable. In response to perceived abuse of TWIA via the legal system, the new laws give TWIA special rules fitted to the special, privileged nature of TWIA insurance.

TWIA was created when coastal property insurance premiums became more expensive in the wake of Hurricane Celia in 1970. TWIA was created by our state government as a way to to deviate from the standard insurance practice of basing premiums on actuarial tables. This made it possible to keep premiums low for coastal property owners, transferring the risk for catastrophe to all Texans. Though government-created, TWIA’s status at public or private was the source of controversy for years as trial lawyers angled to have it deemed private so they could sue it.

In a nutshell, TWIA is the product of coastal legislators successfully spreading coastal property insurance responsibility to all Texas via the government. As TWIA premiums accumulated, trial lawyers began circling.

After Hurricane Ike, Mostyn, Dunnam, and company sued TWIA, asking for amounts that far exceeded even the insurance policies.

Amid some controversy, they got a mediation ordered by Judge Susan Criss. The mediator was Todd Hunter, a State Rep who received $35,000 in campaign contributions from Mostyn and another plaintiff lawyer in the weeks leading up to the mediation. Hunter awarded the entire amount Mostyn, Dunnam, and company has been asking for: $189 million.

It’s humorous that the group responsible for twiatruth.com is called the Texas Small Business Alliance, given they are liberals. The small business community is overwhelmingly conservative and as a general rule resents the taxes and regulations liberals pile on them, often making it impossible to survive. Texas Small Business Alliance is a Dunnam  project run by a former Chet Edwards aid named Jeff Rotkoff.

The Texas Trial Lawyers aren't giving up a major money source without a fight. Twiatruth.com is an effort in that vein.

There are many strange details in the TWIA settlement. Here is a TWIA settlement information website created by AgendaWise.

The Texas Watchdog covered TWIA admirably earlier this year, as a visit to their website and a search of the term “TWIA” reveals.

--Texas Tribune article from March on Dunnam's Texas First Foundation

Weston Hicks

Weston Hicks researches and writes about associations in the Texas political realm, media choices, and political strategy. He has a B.A. in History from the University of Texas at El Paso and a J.D. from University of Texas School of Law. He enjoys spending time with wife and five children, reading, and playing sports outide. You can reach him at [email protected]