Gordon Ball, a class action lawyer and former federal prosecutor known nationally for standing up to polluters, price-fixers, insurance companies, and other big corporations to fight for landowners and ordinary people, announced on Wednesday that he is running for the United States Senate from Tennessee, beginning his day on the banks of the Pigeon River in front of his childhood home in the small community of Hartford. It was there, he said, that he committed to help his neighbors fight the paper mill that had been polluting the once-pristine river since the early 1900's.
“My reason for running is straightforward,” Mr. Ball said in his announcement. “Poor and middle class Tennessee families have been victimized far too long by professional politicians and Washington insiders.” A fundamental problem, Mr. Ball believes, is that once elected to Congress, many politicians conveniently forget pledges and promises made to their constituents. For instance, he said, “the current incumbent promised to serve no more than two terms, a total of 12 years, but now he's running for a third term, which would give him 18 years in the Senate.”
Mr. Ball supports term limits for Congress. “We have real and important problems that must be addressed by Congress. But the ideas coming from Democrats and Republicans alike are nothing more than recycled policies that have never worked in the past, are not working today, and are unlikely to work in the future. If we want fresh ideas in Congress, we’re going to have to send new people to Washington.”
“Washington is rigged by professional politicians,” Mr. Ball said. “While a big company, like GE or State Farm, pays nothing in taxes, Washington forces college students to borrow more and more to get an education. And Washington tells seniors they may need to learn to live on less. It isn’t right, and it’s one of the main reasons I’m running.”
Mr. Ball describes his family as living well beneath “the ragged edge of the middle class” when he was growing up. He was the first in his family to graduate college and became a federal prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, then a class action lawyer. After law school, he served as an assistant U.S. Attorney, prosecuted and defended murder cases, and in the early 1990's, followed up on his promise to help landowners on the Pigeon River get relief from the owners of the upstream paper mill, garnering millions of dollars in compensation for them over the years. That quest evolved into a regular role playing David against Goliath, taking on big corporations representing Tennessee and American consumers in large, complex class action cases.
Mr. Ball is widely credited for the original thinking, political courage, and relentless persistence that led to court decisions in Tennessee and elsewhere giving ordinary people the right to sue price-fixers and monopolists. His law firm website chronicles many of the cases he has participated in, as well as the billions of dollars in benefits reaped by ordinary people – and many local, state, and national charities and educational institutions – through them.
Mr. Ball and his wife, Happy, married in December 2013, and have five adult children between them.