In a crowded public place, two businessmen discuss investments. One asks the other what his broker recommends.
“Well, my broker is E.F. Hutton,” the man replies, “and E.F. Hutton says –“
A hush falls over the crowd and bystanders lean in, straining to overhear the prized advice, a voice-over announcer explains: “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”
It was one of the more memorable tag lines (and advertising campaigns) of the 1970s and 80s, and for reasons that follow, we associate it with the Dallas law firm of Baron & Budd.
During the 2014 election cycle, Baron & Budd and its employees contributed more than $200,000 to Texans running for political office. Their money was talking, and you can bet they expected the recipients to listen.
In an interview that year with Salon, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean confided that he “got lucky in Texas” as he tried to rebuild the party here during his 2005-2008 tenure, because “a group of trial lawyers took over the party and funded it, and it wasn’t perfect, but we knew each other, and they were OK.”
The late Fred Baron used some of his asbestos-settlement assets to rebuild the state party and establish the Texas Democratic Trust to fund candidates amenable to his interests: candidates who would listen when he talked.
Now the firm is talking against a bill being considered by the state legislature, and the beneficiaries of its largesse probably are paying close attention.
“It’s called the Fairness in Class Action Litigation of 2017 (H.R. 985) bill, but the truth is that this piece of legislation would protect greedy companies rather than consumers,” the firm says on its website. “In essence, it would eliminate the ability of consumers to seek justice through class action lawsuits.”
Never mind the exaggeration and misrepresentation. The proposed bill threatens to cut into the firm’s action, and that could mean less money available to support “worthy” candidates.
Are you listening?