For-profit

Texas Future Project

Formation:

2014

Executive Director (Interim):

Colleen Loper

Founding Members:

Amber and Steve Mostyn

Steve and Ellen Susman

Steve Phillips

The Texas Future Project (TFP) is a left-of-center political strategy organization that endeavors to shift the balance of governance in Texas from Republican-leaning to Democratic-leaning.  Founded in 2013 by “top democratic donors” in connection with Texas AFL-CIO, TFP partners with left-leaning political committees and advocacy groups including Battleground Texas, Texas Organizing Project, Planned Parenthood, and Democracy Alliance. [1]

Although the organization was originally founded with the intention to make Texas a battleground state in the 2016 presidential election, its creators seek to shift the state to a Democratic stronghold. TFP does not solicit donations on its own behalf except to cover overhead costs, nor does it typically donate to candidates directly. Rather, it coordinates donations and strategy with other left-leaning groups, and its capital is funneled directly from donors to its sister organizations. [2]

TFP also collects data on its donors through Texas Democratic Investment Advisors. [3]

In April 2019, TFP partnered with She The People and Texas Organizing Project to host a forum featuring eight Democratic candidates of the 2020 election. [4]

Founding Members

Amber and Steve Mostyn

Texas attorneys Amber and the late J. Steven (Steve) Mostyn of the Mostyn law firm acquired a fortune successfully suing insurance companies (one class-action victory against Texas Windstorm Insurance Association netted over $86 million in attorney’s fees alone[5]) and have since poured an enormous amount of their combined wealth into liberal causes and political campaigns.  During the 2012 election cycle the couple spent $5.2 million supporting Democratic causes and participated in the founding of a number of left-leaning political action groups, including Battleground Texas. In addition to her work at the Mostyn Law firm, Amber is the former chair of Annie’s List, a Texas state-level political committee modeled on the pro-abortion-rights Emily’s List and named for former Texas Governor Ann Richards (D), mother of former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards. [6]

Amber Mostyn is on the advisory board of Battleground Texas, whose startup funding was provided in part by the Mostyns in 2013, and whose aims are identical with TFP: to break the Republican political stronghold in Texas, specifically with the goal of capturing its 39 electoral votes for the Democratic Party. [7] The Mostyns also co-founded the National Finance Council of Ready for Hillary (later “Ready PAC”) to support the candidacy of Hillary Clinton for President in 2016. [8]

Stephen and Ellen Susman

Stephen Susman is a founding partner of Susman Godfrey, one of the most lucrative law firms in the country, bringing in over $1 billion for their clients in 2016. [9]

Ellen Mostyn is the former television host of several programs dealing with issues relating to women in the workplace, most recently the PBS program Balancing Your Life.  In addition to her television work, Susman previously sat on the board of Democratic political action groups Annie’s List and Democracy Alliance, as well as the left-leaning non-profit news outlet Texas Tribune.  Between 2007 and 2012 the Susmans donated over $600,000 to Democratic candidates and PACs. [10] Between 2003 and 2018 Ellen Susman donated over $120,000 to Democratic Party operations in her own name. [11]

Steven Phillips

Former civil rights attorney Steven Phillips is founder of PowerPAC+ and Democracy in Color, both left-of-center political committees dedicated especially to promotion of left-progressive candidates of color. [12] A seasoned political activist since his days at Stanford, he began his professional political career with Jesse Jackson’s failed 1984 presidential campaign. Although it remains unclear whether Phillips himself was ever a communist during his days at Stanford, in a 2012 U.S. Senate endorsement for then-Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) he wrote:

“First, let me make clear that I come out of the Left. I’ve studied Marx, Mao, and Lenin. In college, I organized solidarity efforts for freedom struggles in South Africa and Nicaragua, and I palled around with folks who considered themselves communists and revolutionaries…”[13]

His 1992 marriage to heiress Susan Sandler provided him with both capital and clout to further his political interests. Together they head the Sandler Phillips Center, a think tank which in part endeavors to shift Georgia to a battleground state. [14] Through PowerPAC+ he played a significant financial role in Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential run, as well as Stacey Abrams’[15] and Andrew Gillum’s unsuccessful 2018 gubernatorial campaigns. [16]

Philips is also author of Brown is the New White, an examination of how shifting racial demographics can be leveraged for political purposes. [17] In a February 2017 op-ed in the New York Times, Phillips urged the Democratic National Committee to elect a leader who would “resist the pressure to pursue the wrong white people.” [18]

In 2018 Phillips announced plans to launch the super PAC “Dream United,” dedicated to Sen. Cory Booker’s 2020 presidential election run. [19] Booker’s campaign team has distanced itself from the Super PAC, but Philips told the press: “I don’t see a problem with professionals of color organizing an effort to support a candidate of color. I intend to keep doing it regardless of what anyone says.” [20]

Wendy Davis Campaign

On June 25, 2013 then-state senator Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) attempted to filibuster Senate Bill 5, which would have banned abortion in Texas after 20 weeks’ gestation.  The bill also required abortionists to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles and clinics to meet the basic sanitary standards required of hospitals; this last requirement would have shut down 37 of Texas’ 42 abortion providers. While Senator Davis was unable to persevere until midnight, the bill was temporarily defeated and Davis was thrust into the national spotlight for her effort. [21]

Davis had already been on the Mostyns’ radar; Amber was quoted later as saying, “I have always wanted Wendy to be my governor.” [22] Ahead of her 2012 state senate re-election campaign, the Mostyns had already donated $1.02 million to her cause. Davis ran for governor in 2014 against then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R); her campaign raised nearly $40 million. Despite the support of the Texas Future Project backers like the Mostyns, Davis lost by a 20-point margin. [23]

References

  1. “Democratic Donors, Unions Campaign to Turn Texas Blue.” Washington Free Beacon Website. February 24, 2014. Accessed October 9, 2019. https://freebeacon.com/politics/democratic-donors-unions-campaign-to-turn-texas-blue ^
  2. Fikac, Peggy. Democratic Heavy-Hitters Look to Build Progressive Majority in Texas.” San Antonio Express-News Website.  February 22, 2014.  Accessed October 9, 2019. https://www.expressnews.com/news/local/article/Democratic-heavy-hitters-look-to-build-5259015.php# ^
  3. Texas Democratic Investment Advisors. “Privacy Policy.” Texas Democratic Investment Advisors Website. Undated. Accessed October 9, 2019. https://www.texasdemocraticinvestmentadvisors.com/privacy-policy ^
  4. NBC News. “Watch Live:2020 Candidates Speak at the She The People Forum.” Youtube.com April 24, 2019. Accessed October 6, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZXHj8ApPVY ^
  5. Hu, Elise. “Taylor vs. Mostyn?” The Texas Tribune. September 10, 2010.  Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.texastribune.org/2010/09/10/lawmaker-questions-lawyers-windstorm-settlement/ ^
  6. Redden, Molly. “The Wealthy Woman Behind Wendy Davis.” July 8, 2013. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://newrepublic.com/article/113760/meet-amber-mostyn-wendy-daviss-most-powerful-political-patron ^
  7. Battleground Texas. About. Undated. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.battlegroundtexas.com/about-us/ ^
  8. Camia, Catalina and Schouten, Fredreka. “Major Democratic Donors Join Pro-Hillary Super PAC.” USA Today. May 28, 2013. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/05/28/hillary-clinton-2016-finance-buell-mostyn/2366963/ ^
  9. Dewey, Katrina. “Don’t Mess with Texas: How Lawyers at Susman Godfrey Formed America’s Leading Trial Law Firm.” Lawdragon. December 3, 2017. Accessed September 27, 2019. http://www.lawdragon.com/2017/12/03/dont-mess-texas-susman-godfrey-became-americas-leading-trial-firm/ ^
  10. McMorris, Bill. “Ellen Susman: Stand By Your Man.” The Washington Free Beacon. September 20, 2012. Accessed September 29, 2019. https://freebeacon.com/democracy-alliance/ellen-susman-stand-by-your-man/ ^
  11. Open Secrets. “Donor Lookup: Ellen Susman.” Open Secrets Website. Undated. Accessed September 19, 2019. https://www.opensecrets.org/donor-lookup/results?name=susman%2C+ellen&state=TX&zip=&employ=&cand=&c2012=Y&c2010=Y&c2008=Y&sort=N&capcode=rpgzn&submit=Submit+your+Donor+Query ^
  12. PowerPac+. “Our Story.” PowerPac+ Website. Undated. Accessed October 9. http://www.powerpacplus.org/our_story ^
  13. Phillips, Steve. “The Progressive Case for Corey Booker.” PowerPac+ Website. December 20, 2012. Accessed October 15, 2019. http://www.powerpacplus.org/the_progressive_case_for_cory_booker ^
  14. Sandler Phillips Center. “Projects.” Sandler Phillips Center Website. Undated. Accessed October 15, 2019. https://www.sandlerphillipscenter.com/projects ^
  15. Halper, Evan and Stokols, Eli. “A Dillema for Democratic Hopefuls etc.” Los Angeles Times. January 16, 2019. Accessed October 9, 2019. https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-democrats-superpacs-20190116-story.html ^
  16. Severns, Maggie and Caputo, Marc. “Progressive Billionaires fall for Florida’s Gillum.” Politco. October 1, 2018. Accessed October 9, 2019. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/10/01/florida-governor-andrew-gillum-billionaires-854293 ^
  17. The New Press. “Brown is the New White.” The New Press Website. Undated. Accessed October 15, 2019. https://thenewpress.com/books/brown-new-white ^
  18. Philips, Steve. “Move Left, Democrats.” New York Times. February 21, 2017 Accessed October 9, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/21/opinion/move-left-democrats.html ^
  19. Goldmacher, Shane and Vogel, Kenneth. “Cory Booker Isn’t Yet Running for President etc.” The New York Times. Dec. 20, 2018. Accessed October 9, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/20/nyregion/cory-booker-dream-united-pac.html ^
  20. Halper, Evan and Stokols, Eli. “A Dillema for Democratic Hopefuls etc.” Los Angeles Times. January 16, 2019. Accessed October 9, 2019. https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-democrats-superpacs-20190116-story.html ^
  21. Weber, Peter. “Wendy Davis’ Stunning Filibuster of a Texas Abortion Bill.” The Week. June 26, 2013. Accessed October 9, 2019. https://theweek.com/articles/462815/wendy-davis-stunning-filibuster-texas-abortion-bill ^
  22. Redden, Molly. “The Wealthy Woman Behind Wendy Davis.” July 8, 2013. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://newrepublic.com/article/113760/meet-amber-mostyn-wendy-daviss-most-powerful-political-patron ^
  23. Root, Jay. “Wendy Davis Lost Badly.” The Washington Post. November 6, 2014. Accessed October 6, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2014/11/06/wendy-davis-lost-really-badly-heres-how-it-happened/ ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Amber Mostyn
    Co-Founder and Advisory Board Member
  2. Steve Mostyn
    Co-Founder
  3. Stephen Susman
    Co-Founder
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