Vinson and Elkins, L.L.P.

Vinson and Elkins, L.L.P. could possibly be the most influential lobbyists in Texas; they are certainly the most profitable. This law firm can make these claims since they have good friends in high places. They have donated much to the GOP and helped friends such as Tom Hicks. The latter used Vinson and Elkins to help establish UTIMCO in 1995; they have remained as legal counsel for UTIMCO. The most important fact about the interaction between UTIMCO and Vinson and Elkins is that the law firm has vetted each of the decisions made by the investment company.

Vinson and Elkins has donated to many campaigns such as Bush, Cornyn, and many other politicians in the state. Twenty-three donors from Vinson and Elkins donated $133,000 to Bush for his 1998 gubernatorial race. In addition to UTIMCO, the law firm has also served counsel to former Texas Rangers partners Mercer Reynolds, William DeWitt, Rusty Rose, and Roland Betts. These four men also happen to be big Bush donors.

They have familiarized themselves with some of the big spenders in the state. They were on board with Enron until the end, and they are still trying to help the company. They claim the Enron never did anything illegal; maybe that's because they handled $150 million of the companies business. They have also received big bucks from companies like Alcoa, Inc. by assuring that the Rockdale plant maintain its absurd levels of pollution. In the 1999 legislative session, while Bush was running for President, Vinson and Elkins poured $201,3501 into Bush's campaign. Three of the company's attorneys also pledged $300,000 to Bush. This happened at the same time Texas was meeting to discuss the Texas grandfathered laws; naturally they were overlooked.

Some other notable facts about Vinson and Elkins is that they are "the firm [that] helped craft the law that protects lawyers from lawsuits [and they are] a major source of referrals for the very lawyers who might sue them and knows every legal tactic that could slow or sidetrack the lawsuits."2 This is the big law firm everyone should know not to mess with, as they are the powerhouse of lawyers in Texas. They gained their status from eighty years of experience and making extremely questionable decisions; their interactions with the state, big corporations, and everything approved for UTIMCO can certainly prove this.