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On the Records: Data Decisions

Some deep-pocketed trial lawyers didn't make the Twenty Who Gave Plenty list. Why not?

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A reader this morning questioned the methodology in our story about the top 20 campaign donors in the last six months.

Why, for example, wasn't Dallas lawyer Lisa Blue-Baron -- who donated $570,000 during this period -- included in the list? Or why didn't Houston lawyer Steve Mostyn, who gave more than $100,000, make the cut? 

Good questions.

First, we only analyzed data on donations given directly to candidates. Blue-Baron, for example, gave almost all her money to the Texas Democratic Trust, which is a general purpose political committee -- not a member of the Legislature, or a governor, or someone seeking one of those offices. This methodology, of course, seems to favor Democrats. But consider that Bob Perry, who gave $1 million to candidates from July 1 to December 31, also donated $600,000 to general-purpose committees like Texans for Lawsuit Reform and the Fort Bend Republican Party.

The Mostyn question is more complicated. He donated $62,000 to candidates under his name (though campaigns spelled it "J.S. Mostyn", "John Steven Mostyn", "Steve Mostyn" and "John Mostyn," a fact that makes summing donation amounts by donor name more difficult. His law firm also gave at least $42,000 to candidates. But Mostyn and his firm are two separate entities, and it would be complicated and time-consuming to associate every donor with his or her business interest. (Remember, there were 50,000 donations to candidates during this period).

So that's why the list is limited. Thoughts?

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