A few days ago I received an unintentionally funny flier from state House candidate and corporate attorney Mike Stewart claiming to be green. That's a rather creative characterization, but give the candidate credit: He says all the right things.
In his flier, Stewart talked about building a streetcar through East Nashville, where most of his district lies. And at a recent debate, he said that Tennessee is not in danger of over-protecting the environment.
That line drew a chuckle from an aging crowd of bearded lefties, but I dare Stewart to tell that same joke in the stuffy lobby of Waller Lansden, his downtown law firm. Waller, as we may have mentioned previously, represents toxic polluters and big businesses angling for tax loopholes. And while everyone—even their top client Wal-Mart—deserves intelligent representation, I think it’s hard to defend those institutions if you don’t share their anti-regulatory mindset.
Maybe I’m way off and what you do in your day job says nothing about your political values, even if Stewart's Democratic challenger, Eric Stansell, has spent the better part of his legal career fighting on behalf of the little guy. Maybe you can work honestly with institutions whose values you abhor.
And... maybe too we were just a little tough on Waller. There are other law firms in town who represent big, bullying clients and we don’t write about them. (Right, Bass Berry?) But then Jeff sent me this link. As the kids say, OMFG. Somehow I missed that Waller is helping represent TVA after the agency was sued by the state of North Carolina for hurling toxic emissions into its airspace. Geez.
Does Waller have to represent every mega-polluter? Can they sit out just one case?
Even better, the Waller lawyer on the case is Paul G. Summers, the former attorney general. As the state's top counsel, he chose to fight Paul House’s efforts to get a new trial after the US Supreme Court—and just about anyone else who has kept up with the forensic evidence that has emerged since his conviction—ruled that he was “likely innocent.” But that meant nothing to the well-groomed Summers, who wasted millions of taxpayer dollars continuing the state’s prosecution of an ailing inmate. House, by any standard, at least deserved a new trial after DNA evidence completely shredded the prosecution's theory in that case.
I’ve met Mike Stewart twice and he seems like a amiable guy. He represented himself ably at that debate. Neighborhood leaders in East Nashville like and respect him. But he sure works with a lot of schmucks.