GALVESTON (Legal Newsline) – The law firm that profited the most from insurance suits in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike is funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars into the war chest of the former judge who presided over the lion’s share of the litigation.
Democrat Susan Criss, former judge of the 212th District Court in Galveston County, announced her resignation from the bench on Dec. 6, broadcasting her plans to run for the open District 23 seat in the Texas House of Representatives.
Four years ago, Criss became a familiar name in the state legislature, when she issued an injunction prohibiting the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, the state’s sole provider of windstorm insurance, from releasing information concerning a $189 million settlement with Hurricane Ike victims.
As reported by the Southeast Texas Record, Criss issued the injunction at the request of lead plaintiff’s attorney Steve Mostyn, founder of the Mostyn Law Firm in Houston and the current top funder of Texas Democrats.
However, in large part due to pressure applied by members of the legislature, Criss rescinded the order, revealing that hurricane attorneys reaped $44 million in fees from the settlement.
Four years later, Mostyn and his wife, Amber, are indirectly sharing a portion of those fees with Criss, contributing $200,000 to the former judge in the month of September, according to campaign finance reports on file with the Texas Ethics Commission.
On Sept. 11 Back to Basics PAC, a committee almost entirely funded by the Mostyns, donated $100,000 to Criss’ campaign. Eleven days later, Amber Mostyn contributed an additional $100,000, campaign finance reports show.
From July 1 to Sept. 25, Criss raised less than $280,000, meaning the Mostyns accounted for bulk of her funding the last three months.
Other top Criss contributors in that time span include:
- The Texas Trial Lawyer Association PAC with a $11,393.41 donation;
- Annie’s List, a pro-choice group, with a $10,000 donation;
- Battleground Texas, which supports Democrats, with more than $6,000 in donations
- Houston attorney Riley Burnett chipped in $5,000
- Clayton Clark, attorney for the Houston law firm Clark Love & Hutson, donated $2,500; and
- Texas State Teachers Association PAC gave $5,000.
Criss’ Republican opponent, Wayne Faircloth, has raised more than $155,000 in contributions since July, campaign finance records show.
While Faircloth has no $100,000 donors aiding his campaign, a large chunk of his funding has come from PACs, which includes a $25,000 donation from Texans for Education Reform, and $26,500 in donations from the Texas Republican Campaign Committee.Reach David Yates at firstname.lastname@example.org