Wednesday, November 06, 2019

How Do You Know When A Candidate Is From The Republican Wing Of The Democratic Party? Meet Shannon Hutcheson Of Texas

Last cycle Mike Siegel held Trump enabler Michael McCaul to just 51.1%, McCaul's worst showing in his political career. McCaul, one of the two or three richest members of Congress-- his in-laws are robber barons-- spent  $1,754,122 on the race, swamping Mike's $477,926. The DCCC declined to get involved, telling institutional donors to skip the race because it was too red a district and because Mike is a progressive. So it was a little-noticed race... nationally. In the district, Mike built a grassroots machine that fought for every inch of territory from Lake Travis and the neighborhoods of North Austin through Pflugerville, Elgin and Bastrop and Brenham, Prairie View in the north and Flatonia, Weimar and Sealy along the I-10 in the south to Tombatt and Cypress in the Houston exurbs. This year, even the DCCC recognized that TX-10 is winnable and that Michael McCaul is vulnerable. But Mike Siegel is... still too grassroots oriented, too independent-minded and too progressive for them. So they started looking around for a more conservative, go-along-to-get-along alternative. They finally settled on an "ex"-Republican EMILY's List mess, Shannon Hutcheson.

Over the weekend, several Blue America members in Austin alerted me that they had received polling calls, likely from an arm of EMILY's List, testing what they see as Hutcheson's weakest points, basically sharing that as an attorney, she represented a prison guard who sexually abused women in custody and asking if her excuse would hold water or if it would cause them to not vote for her in the primary. The human-administered poll-- about 30 minutes long and very expensive also shares a great deal of positive information about her after sharing the initial negative information.

The poll seems to have neglected to mention some of Hutcheson's other faults, like her 2010 decision to vote in the Republican primary, a matter of public record. Earlier, she worked as an attorney for a major establishment international law firm, Baker Botts, headquartered in Houston and which sells itself as having over half the Fortune 100 companies as clients, especially in the oil sector. Ted Cruz also worked there in the '90s (and earlier George W. Bush was given a job fitting his skill set as well-- in the mailroom). Hutcheson's gig was far more toxic than Bush's though; she worked on behalf of large corporations, protecting them against labor and employment claims.

In 2011 she started her own boutique law firm with her former colleague from Baker Botts, Allison Bowers. Hutcheson’s campaign bio notes that "having her own firm allowed Shannon the time and flexibility to work on the causes that are important to her." So what causes were those that she was eager to work for? One of her first big clients was the worst and filthiest of the U.S. private prison conglomerates, the Corrections Corporation of America, for whom she defended Donald Dunn, a notorious CCA prison guard convicted of multiple sexual assaults, in a civil case against the ACLU representing three immigrant victims of sexual assault. After years of litigation, Hutcheson was able to have the case settled out of court (2017).

A couple of months after acquiring CCA, she took on another cause that was apparently meaningful to her, the defense of Foxworth-Galbraith Lumber, a company accused of age discrimination. The plaintiff had worked for the company for 32 years at the time he was let go. Hutcheson was also able to settle that case out of court. In 2014, Hutcheson was hired to defend NetSpend, a prepaid debit card company, in a suit brought by a plaintiff who claimed to have lost tens of thousands of dollars in social security income after arranging to have it deposited onto a NetSpend card. Hutcheson also settled that case out of court. She has represented the company in three separate cases. But also in 2014 Hutcheson was hired to defend the Office of the Texas Attorney General against an Equal Pay Act claim. A female attorney claimed that she was paid less and promoted fewer times than her male co-workers, despite being equally qualified. This is the kind of case Shannon Hutcheson says is important to her? She makes a perfect EMILY's List candidate, but I bet she'll never be endorsed by Matriarch.

Another example of issues important to Hutcheson is reflected in a paper she wrote, Agencies Run Amuck, in which she harshly criticized the Department of Labor’s subpoena power under Tom Perez, as well as the EEOC’s on-site investigations and work to sue for back wages. She wrote, critically, that "The past decade has seen a steady increase in the amounts of back wages recovered annually. This trend is unlikely to end under current U.S. Labor Secretary, Tony [sic] Perez."

This year, before jumping into the congressional race, she took on several more ugly cases-- another on behalf of CCA, now renamed CoreCivic. An immigrant woman detained at multiple CoreCivic facilities claims that she was forced to work for little or no pay and filed suit under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Another of her firm's cases last year was to defend a tire shop against claims of wage theft by an employee. And the last was last December when she was hired to defend Travis Transit, a company with a history of egregious labor violations, in an employment discrimination suit. The plaintiff, a bus driver who was permanently severely injured during a violent home invasion, was fired by Travis for taking absences during his recovery. The EEOC determined that Travis had failed to engage in the reasonable accommodation process required by the ADA. In his lawsuit, the driver also claimed that he was the victim of racial discrimination, because other, non-black employees did not get in trouble for having the same number of absences. She said she wanted to work on cases that were important to her. This is who Shannon Hutcheson is and it is imperative to keep her out of Congress. We have enough like her already, i.e., the Republican Party and the Republican wing of the Democratic Party.

Also not mentioned on the polling calls were her campaign finance problems. Her filings reveal a number of donors and industries that should be of concern to Democratic primary voters. One max donor, George Ryan is a top Republican Party donor and head of Ryan LLC, a massive tax advisory consulting firm. He has given over $6 million to Republican candidates and groups over the years. During the Trump campaign in 2016, Ryan advised the nominee on tax policy, and said he supported Trump even after the Access Hollywood video release. "I find Hilary Clinton to be at least as morally repugnant, if not more," Ryan said in a ringing endorsement of Trump. Hutcheson has the distinction of being one of the few Democrats Ryan has ever supported.

This cycle the recipients of Ryan's largesse are all crooked, easily-bought conservatives:
John Katko (R-NY)- $2,748
Ted Budd (R-NC)- $2,748
Shannon Hutcheson (D-TX)- $2,800
Glenn Grothman (R-WI)- $2,748
Donald Bacon (R-NE)- $2,748
Steve Chabot (R-OH)- $2,748
Peter King (R-NY)- $2,748
French Hill (R-AR)- $2,748
Devin Nunes (R-CA)- $2,748
Van Taylor (R-TX)- $5,600
Bill Huizenga (R-MI)- $2,748
David Rouzer (R-NC)- $2,748
David Schweikert (R-AZ)- $2,748
Fred Upton (R-MI)- $2,748
Doug LaMalfa (R-CA)- $2,748
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)- $2,800
and pages and pages of contributions like this, all to corrupt conservatives, every one of them a Republican conservative with one glaring exception, DCCC/EMILY's List darling Shannon Hutcheson.

And it isn't just George Ryan, oil and gas industry executives are pouring money into her campaign. And Hutcheson has also hauled in over $84,000 from law firms who help large commercial and industrial property holders shirk their full property tax bills via special loopholes. A large share of these funds, $77,360, come from Popp Hutcheson, the firm run by Hutcheson’s husband Mark and James Popp. Popp has spent decades writing and advocating for tax policy at the Texas Capitol that has helped companies shave billions of dollars’ worth of property value from local tax rolls that are the primary means of funding schools. He is the architect of the "equity" tax appeal provision, an administrative mechanism that according to the Travis Central Appraisal District, has shaved $16.5 billion in value from the tax roll since 2010, translating to $396 million in potential tax revenue lost. While the tax policy details behind the numbers may be complicated, voters don’t need to understand the whole backstory to know that the game is being rigged against them. Their property tax bills continue to rise while big companies pay less. And those rigging the game are some of Hutcheson’s biggest supporters. and they totally want Shannon Hutcheson in Congress-- and are willing to put up the money it takes to get her there.

Goal ThermometerWith plenty of surreptitious help from EMILY's List and the DCCC and with lots and lots of wealthy conservatives (including Republican predators), Shannon has raised $532,813 for her campaign, while McCaul raised $1,209,859 and Mike Siegel raised $344,642. If money is what determines who's going to win this race, no one is going to catch up with McCaul, who has an unlimited capacity to self-fund. But, as Siegel showed last cycle, it's not only about the cash. Mike's grassroots efforts nearly displaced Michael McCaul last year. This cycle, Siegel should be able to beat both Hutcheson and McCaul. Obviously he can use some help. The Turning Texas Blue thermometer on the right is where you can contribute to his campaign. It's a good investment in good government. This is his first 2020 campaign video. I think it is worth watching because it will give you an idea about where his values lie and what kind of a congressman will be:


  1. Anonymous12:26 PM

    you know they are from the fascist majority when the DxCC or DNC supports them.

  2. Anonymous9:21 AM

    As Mark "Deep Throat" Felt advised, "Follow the money". Any politician not supporting progressive issues is on the corporate payroll regardless of party registration.