Person

Amber Mostyn

Nationality:

American

Residency:

Texas

Spouse:

J. Steven Mostyn (deceased)

Political Party:

Democratic Party

Occupation:

Attorney

Amber Anderson Mostyn is a Texas trial lawyer and liberal political donor. She is the widow of J. Steven (Steve) Mostyn, who was also an attorney and the head of Mostyn Law. [1] She is the co-founder, along with her late husband, of the Mostyn Moreno Foundation, a Texas non-profit named for Steve’s late mother Glenda Jean Mostyn and the late former Texas State Rep. Joe. E Moreno (D-Harris County). [2] The Mostyns were also members of the somewhat-secretive left-leaning donor collective known as Democracy Alliance. [3]

Political Activities

Amber Mostyn is the former chair of Annie’s List, which supports left-leaning, pro-abortion female candidates in Texas. Mostyn is quoted as saying: “A woman running for office, all things being equal, has a two to three percent edge over a male candidate.” [4] She sits on the advisory board and provided the startup funding for Battleground Texas and is a founding member of Texas Future Project, both organizations designed to shift Texas from a Republican-leaning to a Democratic-leaning state. [5]

The Mostyns backed then-State Sen. Wendy Davis’s (D-Tarrant County) 2012 reelection campaign, donating a combined total of over $1 million from Annie’s List and Mostyn Law. They later financed Davis’s failed gubernatorial campaign against then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) by donating over $2 million to the effort. In an interview with Molly Redden Amber Mostyn is quoted: “I have always wanted Wendy to be my governor.” [6][7]

Davis drew national attention for her 11-hour unsuccessful filibuster of a pro-life bill that would block abortion after 20 weeks and require abortionists to have admitting privileges within 30 miles. [8] The day of the filibuster, Amber Mostyn promised to match any donations made to Annie’s List before midnight; the effort raised over $70,000. [9]

In April 2017, Hillary Clinton visited Texas and was keynote speaker at an Annie’s List luncheon honoring Mostyn. The sold-out event raised over $1 million. [10]

Since Steve Mostyn’s death in 2017, Amber has become the head of Mostyn Law, but has also scaled back her substantial donor activity. This has left a gap in funding for Democratic causes in the state of Texas, especially during the 2018 gubernatorial primary, with Amber Mostyn reportedly having reduced her donations by about 95 percent. [11]

Relation to Steve’s Strategies

Because politically active couples often work in concert, it is sometimes difficult to separate their distinct political preferences; however, the Mostyns by all accounts were staunchly independent of one another, though both were left-progressive Democrats. In the 2008 presidential campaign, Amber financially backed then-U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), while Steve supported then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL). Steve Mostyn had the reputation of being more willing to quickly donate to solicited causes, while Amber was more likely to ask for precise details on spending and strategy. Political strategists Bill Burton and Paul Begala related being “grilled” by Amber on the Mostyn’s yacht for over an hour about details of a potential $1 million contribution while Steve (who was initially ready to cut a check immediately) relaxed in the sun, sipping a beer. During the 2012 election, the Mostyns would go on to donate a combined total of $5.2 million to Democratic candidates and committees. [12]

When the Mostyns did act in concert, Steve could draw lone fire for their joint political decisions. Ahead of the 2012 presidential elections the Mostyns helped fund a series of Democratic-aligned Super PAC attack ads against Republican nominee Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) as part of Burton’s strategy to define Romney as a “corporate villain,” donating $1 million to Priorities USA and $500,000 to House Majority PAC. The Washington Free Beacon’s Andrew Stiles penned a story detailing the Mostyn’s financial role in this strategy, almost completely omitting Amber’s influence in the decision. [13] Amber responded on Twitter: “Hey, Stiles- Why am I only getting 77 cents worth of recognition here?”[14]

Tort Controversy

Amber Mostyn has tied her political leanings to her choice of career: “It’s the chicken and the egg question…We’re Democrats because were trial lawyers and we’re trial lawyers because we’re Democrats.” [15]

Mostyn has opposed tort reform through political action, backing Houston Mayor Bill White’s (D-TX) 2010 gubernatorial challenge to incumbent Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) through their Back to Basics PAC. [16] White, a former attorney, had previously represented Billy Goldberg in his tort suit against construction company R.J. Longo for “emotional distress.” [17] This gubernatorial challenge failed, and in 2011 Perry signed into law HB 274 of the 82nd Texas Legislature session, which fights frivolous lawsuits by requiring some plaintiffs to pay the defendant’s legal fees and court costs if they lose and allows judges to immediately dismiss lawsuits deemed frivolous. [18]

In the wake of 2008’s Hurricane Ike, Mostyn law firm notoriously earned over $86 million in lawyer’s fees, amounting to 45% of the $189 million awarded, in the settlement with Texas Windstorm Insurance Associates (TWIA). TWIA raised rates 5% following the settlement, prompting State Rep. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) to request an audit of each of the more than 2,400 cases to check for discrepancies in claim payouts and a justification for the lawyer’s fees awarded. [19]

In response, Mostyn Law filed an Open Records request for any communications between Taylor and Jim Oliver, who was at that time the head of TWIA.  The request also specified inquiries into, among other entities, communications with tort-reform group Texans for Lawsuit Reform. [20]

Mostyn law would later file a multi-million-dollar suit against TWIA and Landmark Insurance in 2016 on behalf of GYB Investors when the two companies refused to pay claims for destroyed electrical transformers in the wake of Hurricane Patricia.  In May of 2019, with Amber Mostyn now in charge of the firm, a jury found in favor of TWIA and Landmark. [21]

References

  1. Mostyn Law. “Amber Anderson Mostyn.” Mostyn Law Website. Undated. Accessed February 12, 2020. https://mostynlaw.com/team/amber-mostyn/  ^
  2. Mostyn Moreno Foundation. “Our Namesakes.” Mostyn Moreno Website. Undated. Accessed February 20, 2020. https://www.mostynmoreno.org/about/our-namesake/ ^
  3. Gold, Matea. “New Koch Offensive Puts Spotlight on Democracy Alliance.” The Washington Post. September 8, 2014. Accessed February 20, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2014/09/08/new-koch-offensive-puts-spotlight-on-democracy-alliance/ ^
  4. 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 ^
  5. Battleground Texas. About. Battleground Texas website. Undated. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.battlegroundtexas.com/about-us/ ^
  6.   Wang, Jackie. “Houston Lawyer and Top Democratic Donor Steve Mostyn Has Died.” The Dallas Morning News. November 16, 2017. Accessed February 12, 2020. https://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2017/11/16/houston-lawyer-and-top-democratic-donor-steve-mostyn-has-died/ ^
  7. 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 ^
  8. 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 ^
  9. 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 ^
  10. Annie’s List.  “Hillary Clinton Visits Houston to Raise  One Million Dollars to Elect Progressive Texas Women to Office.” Annie’sList.com Website. April 7, 2017. Accessed February 11, 2020. https://annieslist.com/release-hillary-clinton-visits-houston-raise-one-million-dollars-elect-progressive-texas-women-office-2/ ^
  11. O’Hanlon, Morgan. “A ‘Blue Wave Without Much Green.” Texas Observer. March 2, 2018. Accessed October 6, 2019. https://www.texasobserver.org/blue-wave-without-much-green/ ^
  12. 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 ^
  13. Stiles, Andrew. “Hurricane Mostyn.” The Washington Free Beacon. September 4, 2012. Accessed February 19, 2019. https://freebeacon.com/politics/hurricane-mostyn/ ^
  14. Mostyn, Amber. Twitter.com Website. September 4, 2012. Accessed February 12, 2020.  https://twitter.com/AmberMostyn/status/243170403864952832 ^
  15. 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 ^
  16. Weissert, Will. “Democratic Megadonor Mostyn Dies Amid Mental Health Issue.” Albuquerque Journal. November 16, 2017. Accessed February 19, 2020.  https://www.abqjournal.com/1093800/democratic-mega-donor-mostyn-dies-amid-mental-health-issue.html ^
  17. Hamilton, Reeve. “Who You Callin a Trial Lawyer?” The Texas Tribune. April 23, 2010. Accessed February 19, 2020. https://www.texastribune.org/2010/04/23/is-bill-white-really-a-trial-lawyer-should-we-car/ ^
  18. Texas Legislature Online. Bill: HB 274. CapitolTexas.gov Website. Undated. Accessed February 19, 2020. https://capitol.texas.gov/billlookup/text.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB274 ^
  19. Hu, Elise. “Triblog: Taylor Vs. Mostyn?” The Texas Tribune. September 10, 2010. Accessed February 17, 2020. https://www.texastribune.org/2010/09/10/lawmaker-questions-lawyers-windstorm-settlement/ ^
  20. Kornely, Analiese. Request for Information. TexasTribune.org Website. September 10, 2010. Accessed February 17, 2020. https://static.texastribune.org/media/documents/openrecordsrequest.pdf?_ga=2.110029701.1802358164.1582216641-1840879804.1581518656 ^
  21. Yates, David. “Galveston Co. Jury Shuts Down Mostyn Law Suit etc.” Southeast Texas Record. June 6, 2019. Accessed February 20, 2020. https://setexasrecord.com/stories/512607140-galveston-co-jury-shuts-down-mostyn-law-storm-suit-against-twia-landmark-insurance ^

Connected Organizations

  1. Democracy Alliance Conferences (Other Group)
    Participant, Fall 2016
  2. Texas Future Project (For-profit)
    Co-Founder and Advisory Board Member
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