Ben Barnes' Hispanic Mules: Sanchez and Morales

Well, today ole Ben Barnes, the king of corruption, brought out his second mule. Tony Sanchez was Barnes' Republican mule and now Dan Morales, Barnes' Democratic mule, has entered the governor's race. Well, after I am governor, Sanchez and Morales are going to be cell mates: Sanchez for his Mafia, Enron and Tesoro doings and Morales for his Tobacco settlement corruption. 

I believe that the Hispanic population is going to suffer a gigantic setback as these two scumbags attempt to run in the governor's race. Morales was never going to run against John Cornyn in the Senate race for the same reason that he abruptly quit politics in 1998; John Cornyn had his number and told him, "get out or go to jail". And Dan Morales got out. Now he thinks he can bring his rotten self back into Texas politics. 

For those of you who follow my epistles, you will remember that just two days ago Peggy Fikac wrote an article about Ben Barnes' opinion about the state needing to raise taxes to deal with the budget shortfall that allegedly will exist. And I wondered why in the heck was Peggy writing about increasing taxes. It was an out of the blue article. 

But consider the following except from an article by Michael Holmes with the AP which was published on January 16, 1998, in Houston Chronicle: "During his (Morales) legislative career, the state's budget went into the tank as oil prices plummeted. During those tough times, it was Morales who sponsored the nearly $6 billion tax increase bill that helped bring the budget back into balance."

Well, that ole snaky Ben Barnes reached down and bought out Dan Morales and put him in the Democratic race for governor because his other mule Tony Sanchez just wouldn't run. Or maybe Sanchez just couldn't pull all that negative baggage. At any rate, Ben revealed his connection with Morales in the Fikac article. 

Here again we have this Morales mule who just like Tony Sanchez waited until 30 minutes before the filing deadline to put down Barnes' money. Another indecisive, hesitant, corrupt Hispanic mule ridden by Ben Barnes. 

Now, how is this Morales mule going to run after he destroyed affirmative action at the University of Texas with his interpretation of the Hopwood case. This Morales guy evidently hates his own race as is evidenced by his deliberately slamming the doors of the state institutions of higher learning in the face of God only knows how many Hispanic boys and girls. How is this guy going to get any Hispanic votes?

And then there is the fact that it took Buster Brown to light a fire under Morales to begin to get Judge William Wayne Justice out of the Texas Prison System. A job that John Cornyn had to finish.

So where does old Ben and the Democratic Party go from here?

They cannot run both Morales and Sanchez because it will split the Hispanic voters. So since Sanchez was on his way out anyway, look for Tony to drop out of the race within a few days or weeks under the guise of business demands or family demands or he has to get ready for Cinco de Mayo.

If Tony does not get out of the governor's race, then all those 60 members of the Democratic Party executive committee who endorsed the corrupt Sanchez will have to ride him until the primaries. Only if Tony gets out can they get on the Morales bandwagon.

When this happens, we will know for sure that ole Ben was behind the old switcheroo. "When you find out that you are riding a dead mule (or one that is about to self destruct), you have to bring another mule into the race before you can dismount and continue on. You need someone that will take your money. And while you are at it, you think its best to get a real Democratic this time. Dan Morales."

But let's give ole Ben more a little more credit. Let us say that ole Ben was smart enough to realize that the corrupt Sanchez mule had this load of dynamite strapped to him and so it was best to keep a backup mule close at hand. That mule was Morales and he was drafted over a year ago. 

Then Ben had a bit of luck. Phil Gramm dropped out of the Senate race and Ben had an opportunity to get some press for his backup mule Morales and maybe with a little luck he really could run Morales for the Senate. But that idea went south as soon as the Republicans designated John Cornyn as their Gramm clone. But Barnes kept up the facade that Morales would run for Senate to get as much free press as possible.

Then Ben bought Akins out of the governor's race to help Tony. But as the days and weeks passed more and more of the Sanchez baggage went into the spotlight. Even after ole Ben corrupted the Scripps Howard poll, WorldPeace was still able to read between the lines and see that Sanchez was dead.

The problem was that Barnes could not be sure that WorldPeace would really file for the governor's race in the Democratic Party so he had to wait. He couldn't dismount Sanchez because he actually had a lot of those in the Democratic Party committed to Sanchez. So he had to wait until WorldPeace filed to bring out the back up mule Morales.

The problem now is that even though Morales is less corrupt than Sanchez and he has no Republican taint on him, he still has a gigantic problem with his attack on affirmative action. Hispanics cannot trust Morales not to screw them.

So the fat is in the fire. Tony is finished. All that is needed now is for Tony to bring out the excuse that Barnes wrote for him, quit the governor's race, endorse his good buddy Morales and to say he is sorry and leave a couple of million with the Party for the Morales campaign.

The press

Here is what I expect out of the press. I expect they will focus all on this Sanchez Morales match up and continue to act like WorldPeace does not exist. 

No reporter is going to talk about how Barnes is still trying to corrupt the state of Texas. The press will shortly be taken off the hook in regard to reporting all of the Sanchez corruption. They will feel relieved due to the fact that Morales only has about three corrupt issues. However, the tobacco settlement was just outright attempted theft by Morales. (See the articles below.) He was getting ready to "cut a fat hog in the butt" when John Cornyn got on his trail. He just could not resist the money. It may well have been that the tobacco lawsuit was when Morales first got into bed with Barnes. Scratch around a little and I think you are going to find the stink of Ben Barnes right in the middle of the tobacco settlement. 

If there were any real investigative reporters out there, we would be reading stories about how Barnes was in the center of the S & L scandal, the tobacco lawsuit and the Enron matter that is just now unfolding. Ben Barnes is an angry man and that anger goes back to his fall from power in the late sixties and early seventies. Roll over any rock in Texas and you are going to find a crooked snake underneath with BB branded between its eyes.

The end of Ben Barnes and company (Mene Tekel Peres)

Enter John WorldPeace. As I have said, Texas will have a real choice this year at the polls: Ben Barnes and his stable of devils (Sanchez Morales Perry) or John WorldPeace.

Psalms 37

Fret not yourself because of the wicked, be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass, and wither like the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your vindication as the light, and your right as the noonday. Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over him who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the wicked shall be cut off; but those who wait for the LORD shall possess the land. Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look well at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall possess the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity. The wicked plots against the righteous, and gnashes his teeth at him; but the LORD laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming. The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows, to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those who walk uprightly; their sword shall enter their own heart, and their bows shall be broken. Better is a little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken; but the LORD upholds the righteous. The LORD knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will abide for ever; they are not put to shame in evil times, in the days of famine they have abundance. But the wicked perish; the enemies of the LORD are like the glory of the pastures, they vanish--like smoke they vanish away. The wicked borrows, and cannot pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives; for those blessed by the LORD shall possess the land, but those cursed by him shall be cut off. The steps of a man are from the LORD, and he establishes him in whose way he delights; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD is the stay of his hand. I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging bread. He is ever giving liberally and lending, and his children become a blessing. Depart from evil, and do good; so shall you abide for ever. For the LORD loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. The righteous shall be preserved for ever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous shall possess the land, and dwell upon it for ever. The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip. The wicked watches the righteous, and seeks to slay him. The LORD will not abandon him to his power, or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial. Wait for the LORD, and keep to his way, and he will exalt you to possess the land; you will look on the destruction of the wicked. I have seen a wicked man overbearing, and towering like a cedar of Lebanon. Again I passed by, and, lo, he was no more; though I sought him, he could not be found. Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright, for there is posterity for the man of peace. But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed; the posterity of the wicked shall be cut off. The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; he is their refuge in the time of trouble. The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked, and saves them, because they take refuge in him.

John WorldPeace
The next governor of Texas

January 2, 2002


Citizens against lawsuit abuse

Dan Morales & Marc Murr
Have Some Explaining to Do 

By John R. Butler, Jr. 

Of all the suspicious dealings associated with the Texas tobacco lawsuit, perhaps none is so blatant as Houston attorney Marc Murr's claim for $260 million out of the Texas tobacco settlement. It is little wonder that Texas Attorney General John Cornyn has recently asked a federal judge to dismiss this claim. It should be dismissed. 
Murr, a close friend and former associate of former Attorney General Dan Morales, claims he was an important part of the case. His good friend Dan Morales agrees. But almost no one else in the country agrees with that assessment. 

Marc Murr's claim is based on a series of four "contracts" with the state -- all signed by Murr's friend Morales. The first such contract was signed in secret in October 1996. Murr and Morales later changed their contract three separate times in an ongoing manipulation to get Murr the maximum imaginable legal fee.

Morales first tried to give Murr 3 percent of any recovery by the state in its lawsuit against Big Tobacco. Since the tobacco companies had already tried to settle with the states ( including Texas ) for $150 billion, this contract would have given Murr a minimum of a $300 million legal fee. Then, they changed the contact from a 3 percent fee to a "reasonable" fee. Then, after Texas settled with Big Tobacco for more than $15 billion, they changed the contract again to an "arbitration" process. One decision-maker would be selected by Murr, one by Morales and one by the federal judge in the tobacco case. Finally, in September 1998, they secretly changed their "contract" yet again. This time, all three "arbitrators" would be chosen by Murr and Morales, and no one else would even know they were meeting. Incredible!

How did Murr and Morales try to justify this secret, handpicked panel? Murr and Morales told a federal judge that they were "unable, after substantial time and effort, to negotiate a mutually agreeable settlement of attorney's fees" for Murr.

But wait.

Then they told their "arbitrators" that they were in agreement, and that Murr should be paid 3 percent of the state's recovery, or $520 million. Has anyone cared to ask them why they told directly contradictory stories to two different parties? Or to put it bluntly, which statement was the truth, and which statement was the lie?

After hearing only from Murr and Morales, the panel chosen by Murr and Morales decided that Murr should be paid $260 million by the state. The contract that Morales gave his friend says that this decision would be "final and not appealable."

Perhaps most amazing and confounding though is that to this very day no one knows what Murr really did for the state. Murr says he worked as much as 2,000 hours on the case. But, as far as is publicly known, he has produced no time records, no expense records, not even a single page of notes. In fact, Murr apparently did not question any witness in a deposition. Murr apparently did not speak for the state at any hearing prior to the tobacco settlement. Murr and Morales say Murr "shunned the limelight" and preferred "working in the background." How convenient.

Even two highly respected legislators, Sen. Bill Ratliff, R-Mt. Pleasant, and Rep. Rob Junell, D-San Angelo, have directly contradicted Murr on one of his few specific claims--namely that Murr was not involved in settling the county-hospital district issue, as Murr has claimed.

Murr claims that he put himself at risk and therefore deserves much more than standard hourly rates. But when Morales hired Murr in October 1996, this was six months after the Texas tobacco lawsuit was filed and two months after Big Tobacco had offered to settle the claims of states, including Texas, for a whopping $150 billion. If the state had accepted Big Tobacco's offer, Texas' share would have been $10 billion, giving Murr at least $300 million. In short, the risk was virtually non-existent.

Murr says he spent 1,500 to 2,000 hours working on the tobacco case over a three-year period. Assume he's telling the truth. A fee of $260 million for 2,000 hours works out to at least $130,000 per hour.

The Texas Supreme Court has recently said that a fee should be tested "to prevent grossly excessive attorneys fee awards." To test a fee for reasonableness, the court said, you divide the fee by the hours worked to calculate the effective hourly rate. You compare the effective hourly rate against the normal noncontingent hourly rate. In that case, the court considered suspicious a fee of $9 million for 6,000 hours of work or $1,500 per hour.

After the state "arbitration" panel awarded Murr $260 million, Murr and Morales presented their $520 million fee request to the national "arbitration" panel. The tobacco companies had agreed not to oppose the fee demands by Texas' other five plaintiffs' lawyers, but for some unknown reason the tobacco companies did not agree to roll over for Murr. The national tobacco panel determined that Big Tobacco would pay Murr no more than $1 million. But thanks to Morales, Murr still has his "ruling" against his client, the state of Texas, for $260 million. Since the tobacco industry will only pay $1 million, Murr has indicated that he intends to collect the remaining $259 million out of the Texas tobacco settlement.

What should be done? First, Texans deserve to know the truth. Are Morales and Murr trying to defraud the state? Did Morales abuse his official position to benefit a friend? To benefit himself? The current attorney general and the Legislature need to investigate, just like the FBI. Then they need to take appropriate actions, including suing Murr, or Morales, or both, if warranted. 

Second, Texans should not accept this manipulation of the legal process by an attorney and a former elected official. Murr's $260 million claim against the state should be challenged by Texas Attorney General John Cornyn and thrown out by the courts.

Third, the same scrutiny needs to be applied to the $3.3 billion in fees awarded to the other five plaintiffs' attorneys, the "Tobacco Five." Like Murr, these lawyers are seeking $130,000-plus per hour legal fees for a case that never went to trial. Like Murr, these attorneys never provided a shred of documentation of hours worked. And like Murr, these lawyers had Morales' help in making an enormous fee claim against their client, the state. But there is one big difference. The tobacco companies fought Murr, but they agreed to not even oppose the "Tobacco Five's" fee claims. Why would your opponent in a lawsuit agree to pay your lawyers an unlimited fee? Doesn't it make you wonder what the real deal between your opponent and "your" lawyer was?

And finally, no attorney general or any other government official should ever again be allowed to try to give millions or billions of taxpayer dollars, out of the government's recovery in a lawsuit, to a friend, in secret proceedings, with no oversight.

Editor's Note: Marc Murr withdrew his claim for $260 million in legal fees from the Texas tobacco case on May 6, one day after Attorney General John Cornyn accused him of trying to secure payment by fraud. U.S. District Judge David Folsom gave Murr 60 days to resubmit a fee request to a new arbitration panel.

Butler, a Houstonian, is president of Texans For Reasonable Legal Fees, a coalition of Citizens for a Sound Economy, the Texas Association of Business & Chambers of Commerce and Texans for Lawsuit Reform.

Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
John Cornyn

Thursday, June 1, 2000

Cornyn Says Return of $6.8 Million Raises Troubling Questions

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today said that tobacco trial lawyers have returned $6.8 million in overcharges for expenses in the Texas tobacco case. The check from the tobacco trial lawyers accompanied a May 30, 2000 letter from Walter Umphrey to an attorney for one of the tobacco companies.

The admission by the tobacco trial lawyers comes one year after attorney Marc Murr chose to return $1 million in attorneys fees to the tobacco industry and gave up a claim to an additional $259 million against the state treasury, in an effort to avoid answering questions under oath about his role in the tobacco litigation on behalf of the State of Texas. 

Additionally, on Nov. 9, 1999, Cornyn was successful in his attempts to force the tobacco trial lawyers to drop a $2.3 billion attorneys fee claim against Texas taxpayers.

Although throughout the past 18 months the tobacco trial lawyers repeatedly claimed they had spent $40 million in expenses, they now have reduced their claim to about $33 million - a drop of some 17 percent.

In addressing their return of $6.8 million, Cornyn stated:

"This is an incredible admission by the tobacco trial lawyers. 

"Their misrepresentation of expenses just raises more questions and strongly reinforces the need to determine what happened in the tobacco case. After 18 months of assuring the people of Texas that their expenses were justified in every way, and claiming that they acted ethically, these tobacco trial lawyers are now returning millions of dollars with no satisfactory explanation as to why.

"I have vigorously pursued an ethics investigation into their activities, yet they repeatedly have resisted my attempts to get to the bottom of this matter. In April of this year, I filed a request to take the sworn testimony of the tobacco trial lawyers about a number of matters, including their expenses. Now, on the heels of my move to take their sworn testimony, they return $6.8 million to avoid questions about their overcharges. This further underscores the importance of continuing my investigation until the people of Texas receive the answers they deserve."

Contact Mark Heckmann, Heather Browne, or Andrea Horton at (512) 463-2050