In today’s Washington Examiner I write about the other side of the Bruce Braley saga. Forget about whom he might have insulted with his comments about benighted Iowans and their farms — let’s look instead at who it was he was sucking up to: A group of trial lawyers like himself, who tend to be prolific donors to Democratic campaigns.
A former president of the Iowa Trial Lawyers’ Association, Braley basically was sent to Congress to look after trial lawyers’ financial interests and to block tort reform. During his freshman term in the U.S. House, he was the leading anti-Small Business voice on the Small Business Committee. He was there to make sure small businesses could be sued. In one hearing in May 2007, he really put on the courtroom melodrama, showing the injuries of one of his past clients in a totally unrelated, big-business case, all in an effort to cast aspersions on modest lawsuit reforms that were being discussed, in favor of which small businessmen were testifying.
He also tried, during the debate over the auto safety bill, to add language opening up car rental companies to liability when drivers crashed their cars and injured people. He also wanted to open up auto manufacturers to product liability lawsuits in cases where their cars weren’t designed defectively but rather met all of the rigorous federal standards that go into automotive design.
In each case, these laws were attempts to guarantee that there’s always someone with deep pockets to sue — a classic trial lawyer priority, and thus a priority of Braley’s real constituents.
Braley was only narrowly ahead in the most recent poll taken before his hidden camera remarks were made public. But no need to panic just yet — I bet there are some Iowans who enjoy getting sued.