03/06/17

A Closer Look: Richard Weekley

Richard Weekley is a co-founder of Weekley Homes and co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR), a statewide tort reform organization. Since the 1990s, TLR has won hard-fought legislative victories, including preventing trial lawyers from “shopping” for juries. Supporters of TLR and Mr. Weekley himself have argued these efforts made Texas more business-friendly and were a large component of what’s been dubbed the “Texas Miracle.” Mr. Weekley resides in Houston and gave $1,559,235 in the last cycle.

Not surprisingly, 40% of Mr. Weekley’s giving went to TLR, coming in at $623,730. The remainder is split between direct contributions to candidates and to other PACs offering endorsements to candidates.

Here’s an overview of Richard Weekley’s giving from the last election cycle:

Richard Weekley – A Closer Look
Total Donations $1,559,235
Total Number of Donations 182
Average Donation Amount $8,567.23
Donations to Republicans $466,110
Donations to Democrats $56,500
Donations to Texas House Candidates $286,500
Percentage of Donations to Texas House Candidates 18.37%
Donations to Texas Senate Candidates $147,000
Percentage of Donations to Texas Senate Candidates 9.43%
Donations to Statewide Candidates $81,110
Percentage of Donations to Statewide Candidates 5.2%
Donations to Advocacy Groups $941,625
Percentage of Donations to Advocacy Groups 60.39%
Donations Given Inside Home District $15,000
Percentage of Donations Inside Home District .96%
Donations Given Outside Home District $1,544,235
Percentage of Donations Outside Home District 99.04%

Key takeaways from Mr. Weekley’s giving:

  1. Focus on Texans for Lawsuit Reform.
    Texans for Lawsuit Reform has been a big name in Texas politics for the last two decades. High-profile victories in the early 2000s propelled them to being one of the most influential outside advocacy groups in the state.
    However, recent reform efforts from TLR have stalled in the last two sessions. Mr. Weekley’s influx of over $600,000 isn’t unprecedented, as he has contributed heavily to TLR in the past, but it does signal his intention for TLR to remain a major player in the Texas political scene. The question remains, though, how long can TLR and Mr. Weekley’s money remain relevant void of what many would consider significant legislative results?
  2. Support for Houston-area PACs and clubs.
    The Houston Business Education-Coalition PAC, the Houston Realty Business Coalition, and the Spring Branch Republican Club are just a few of the many Houston-area organizations and groups Mr. Weekley supports. His concentration on Houston reflects a commitment to maintaining his influence in Texas’ largest city, as well as his hometown’s pull in the Capitol.
  3. Party politics.
    Mr. Weekley invested $275,000 into the Republican Party of Texas, the Harris County Republican Party, and the contested races for the chairmanship of each of those organizations. In both instances, Mr. Weekley supported the successful incumbents, Tom Mechler and Paul Simpson, respectively. Understanding the importance of local and statewide parties is important for any savvy political giver, but Mr. Weekley’s level of support for these types of organizations and their respective leaders is virtually unequaled in Texas.

Most interesting donation:

Texas House candidate Abraham Padron sought to oust three-term State Representative Sergio Munoz in the Democrat Party Primary. Apparently, State Rep. Munoz is a top target of TLR and their affiliated donors; TLR spent over $200,000 in favor of Mr. Padron, along with a $10,000 direct contribution from Mr. Weekley. One has to wonder why a traditionally Republican donor like Mr. Weekley, and an organization traditionally aligned with Republicans like TLR, would spend north of $210,000 on a state house race in a Democrat district, against a three-term incumbent? While State Rep. Munoz was ultimately successful, winning re-election with 60% of the vote, this level of financial support for his opponent suggests State Rep. Munoz will have another heated primary challenge in 2018.

 

Our A Closer Look series provides a breakdown of a particular donor’s giving habits within Texas politics. We specifically analyze to whom money is given and when, providing context so citizens can determine the motivation behind the donor’s giving. Stay tuned for the next installment.

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