Motives behind $1.2 million donation to District Attorney candidate questioned

Via San Antonio Headlines Examiner

One of the most interesting elections in the country Tuesday involves Nico La Hood, a Democrat who wants to be the next District Attorney in Bexar County, Texas. La Hood, the son of a local judge, has money problems that seem to be getting in the way. But it’s not the lack of money! A startling and shocking amount of donations from an attorney 150 miles away started flooding into La Hood’s campaign this summer.

Corpus Christi personal injury lawyer Thomas J. Henry suddenly became so concerned about abused children in the San Antonio area he decided to move to the Alamo City last month while he continues to pour over $1.2 million into La Hood’s campaign fund.

Curiously, the Washington D.C. based American Tort Reform Association has called out attorney Henry’s places of business, namely Nueces County, Gulf Coast and Rio Grande Valley, as one of the top “Judicial Hellholes” in the United States for many years. Henry had made his multi-millions in one of America’s hot-spots for where the nonprofit association says the area judges “apply the law in an inequitable manner, generally against defendants in civil lawsuits.”

Other hot spots include Barack Obama’s old stomping ground of Cook County, Illinois, Las Vegas’s Clark County, Nevada and Atlantic County, N.J.

Thomas J. Henry and his team of over 60 lawyers have a fruitful mode of operation: they advertise heavily and set up shop where personal injury attorneys are welcomed by being able to get their cases into the courts of judges who are likely to rule in their favor.

Several physicians from Corpus Christi area joined together to contact the Examiner this week to warn San Antonio doctors what they can expect with Thomas residing in Bexar County.

“We are concerned because (Nico) La Hood and (Thomas J.) Henry are campaigning about how the current DA (Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed) is not doing much about child abuse there,” one doctor expressed. “But voters in San Antonio need to know that this is not the first time Henry has tried to benefit and influence others in the behalf of children.”

“The best example we can give you about how bad it is with (Thomas J.) Henry, was when he had an enormous sign erected across the street from our children’s hospital soliciting parents to sue,” said one of the doctors, who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation. “He’s certainly not at all known for helping abused children in Corpus Christi, so why has he suddenly become so concerned about the children of San Antonio?”

The doctors cited information from the Texas Board of Medical Examiners showing that the Gulf Coast region has one of the highest U.S. rates of malpractice claims filed in Corpus Christi courts. Records show attorney Henry was fined $50,000 by a Judge Yeager for his “frivolous and harassing” lawsuit against two physicians, Stephen Smith and Robert Low in 2006. Attorneys representing the doctors successfully claimed Henry filed the lawsuit with false allegations.

Dr. Low told the Corpus Christi Times at the time that doctor’s experiences with Henry are a key example of the reasons their malpractice insurance premiums are so high. “Flimsy suits like his are filed before there’s adequate investigation,” Low observed.

The doctors described how Henry has even had to drop some lawsuits because it was found the physicians he was suing had not even treated or saw his clients. Two such lawsuits were filed by Henry against Dr. Robert Mastin, an obstetrician and gynecologist.

Henry’s allegiances to political causes, judges and politicians total thousands in contributions. After tens of thousands of Texas physicians lost their medical liability coverage in the early 2000s, most doctors said they were being forced to deny high risk medical cases. The Texas legislature at the time passed a bill signed by the governor limiting such lawsuits to $750,000 which resulted in the need for a constitutional amendment to be enacted for this to happen. Henry donated at least $10,000 to “Save Texas Courts,” the group opposing the amendment.

Henry also donated to such Democrats as Juan M. Garcia ($50,000), Abel Herrero ($50,000+), Ana Lisa Garza ($6,000) Harrison Rose Meza ($2,500), Lloyd Dogget ($2,500), and Jose Longoria ($2,500).

The big question is why has Henry unexpectedly donated over $1 million to Nico La Hood? This is hundreds of times the maximum individual level allowed for federal candidate elections.

La Hood, who counts some of the San Antonio Spurs basketball stars as his friends, solicits his attorney business from his website with a claim to fame that he is “trained to identify drug impaired drivers to help fight your DWI ticket or drug charge in Bexar County.”

Despite his well-publicized arrest for attempting to sell Ecstasy drugs to an undercover police officer in 1994, La Hood had spent energy declaring he is committed to his family and faith. To many Bexar County voters and political observers following this election across the U.S. a better barometer on how a politician will perform in office is based on their actions rather than their rhetoric.

In 1999, he unsuccessfully tried to have his criminal record erased. It was dismissed because he falsely stated the case was dismissed for not having probable cause. He tried to hide the case again by having the case sealed in 2005.

Then when he announced he was running for the district attorney office, La Hood attempted to have his first request to have the case record erased. It was actually approved by the 57th District Court according to the Express & News this was “without providing a copy of the document to Reed’s office.”