September 23, 2009 3:49 PM
Ted Kennedy's Potential Replacements and the ACORN Inquiry
Posted by Brian Baxter
UPDATE #2: Sept. 23, 11:45 a.m. Reuters reports that Paul Kirk has been named as a temporary replacement for Ted Kennedy.
UPDATE #1: Sept. 22, 5:27 p.m. Politico.com reports that ACORN has sued the filmmakers who secretly videotaped employees in the organization's Baltimore office. The suit, which was filed in a circuit court in Baltimore, seeks $500,000 in damages for each employee and $1 million for the NGO.
Massachusetts lawmakers approved a bill on Tuesday authorizing Governor Deval Patrick to appoint an interim successor to late Senator Edward Kennedy. Several candidates vying for the post have Am Law connections, including Proskauer Rose senior counsel Scott Harshbarger, who was just appointed to lead an independent inquiry into grassroots housing organization ACORN.
Harshbarger, a former Massachusetts attorney general who chairs the firm's pro bono initiative, was named Tuesday to head an investigation of ACORN following a series of embarrassing videos recorded by undercover activists showing the NGO's employees giving dodgy tax and housing advice.
The politically sensitive appointment couldn't come at a better time for a potential Democratic nominee seeking higher office. (Harshbarger unsuccessfully ran for governor in 1998; he's also a past president of nonprofit citizens' advocacy organization Common Cause.)
Through a Proskauer spokeswoman, Harshbarger declined to comment beyond a press release issued by ACORN.
Others in the Am Law universe in the running to succeed Kennedy include:
-- Paul Kirk, Jr., former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and a retired partner from Sullivan & Worcester in Boston, where he worked from 1977 to 1990. Considered a front-runner, he has the closest ties to the Kennedy clan.
-- Charles Ogletree, director of Harvard Law School's Criminal Justice Center and a close friend of the Obamas. The National Law Journal named Ogletree one of its 50 most influential minority lawyers in the U.S. in 2008.
-- Evelyn Murphy, who while not a lawyer, once served as managing director of Boston firm Brown Rudnick. Murphy is now chairman of The WAGE Project, a national organization dedicated to ending discrimination against women in the workplace. She served as lieutenant governor of Massachusetts from 1987 to 1991, stepping down after an unsuccessful run for governor.
The Boston Globe reports that Patrick could appoint a temporary replacement for Kennedy as soon as Thursday.
The governor is not without his own Am Law ties. Patrick was a partner at now-defunct Boston firm Hill & Barlow and a predecessor firm of Day Pitney before taking top in-house jobs at Texaco and Coca-Cola, which preceded his transition to politics. His wife, Diane, is a labor and employment partner at Ropes & Gray.Make a comment