State Rep. Jonathan Stickland didn’t toe the grow-government line this session. He voted against a bloated budget that increased session-to-session spending 26.9% and a myriad of liberal policies. That sort of leadership earned him praise from conservatives, and a perfect score of 100 on TFR’s Fiscal Responsibility Index. But it wasn’t a great way for Stickland to earn friends with those who depend on government contracts for their livelihood.
So it was no surprise when Stickland, who was elected to his first term in the legislature in 2012, drew a challenger. His opponent is Andy Cargile, a former school administrator. Cargile declared with the support of various local city council and school board supporters. Aside from the fact that Cargile’s initial list of supporters was populated with known Wendy Davis supporters, none of this was at all surprising. Stickland is a true conservative and, until his election last cycle, he was a political outsider. It is almost hard to blame local politicians for rallying to protect their fiefdoms.
Every single endorser listed on Cargile’s page is either a current or former member of the Euless or Bedford city councils, the HEB ISD School Board, or an employee of HEB ISD schools. But a review of Cargile’s website does bring forth one conspicuous name: Neal Adams.
Adams, who has also served on the HEB ISD board, is described variously as either a “Republican businessman” or a “local Republican activist.” And Adams doesn’t just show up on Cargile’s list of endorsers. He was listed along with the mayors of Euless and Bedford the President of the HEB ISD School Board on Cargile’s campaign announcement. Adams even manages to sneak his way onto Cargile’s “About Andy” page. It is apparent that Adams is playing a large role in Cargile’s campaign.
So who is Neal Adams and why is he such a big deal that he is featured so prominently on Cargile’s site?
Adams is President of Adams, Lynch and Loftin, PC, a law firm located in Grapevine, TX (in neighboring district 98). Adams has been called the “go-to lawyer for school law” and is Chairman and President of the non-profit “College for All Texans Foundation.” Adams must not be a big fan of the growing public policy consensus that we shouldn’t send all kids to college.
Adams’ support is a big deal to Cargile because Adams showers money on moderate politicians. Since 2000, Adams has given nearly $200k to politicians — mostly in his backyard but from every corner of the state. The recipients of his funds are mostly moderates or entrenched incumbents, including House Speaker Joe Straus and Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst.
What has Adams gotten in return for his gifts? In 2005 Adams’ local State Senator, Chris Harris, carried an amendment on House Bill 2120 that allowed County Hospital Districts to hire law firms to represent them, instead of using the already-paid-for county attorney. Guess who the Tarrant County Hospital District hired as their general counsel? You guessed it: Neal Adams.
What did Adams do with the position? He funneled no-bid government contracts to his political allies in the Texas House — specifically moderate-turned-involuntary-lobbyist Vicki Truitt.
And so the wheel turns. When we follow the dollars, it becomes very easy to see why people like Neal Adams are threatened by principled fiscal conservatives like Jonathan Stickland.