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August 26, 2011 5:28 PM

Lawyers and Law Firms Filling Up Obama Campaign Coffers

Posted by Brian Baxter

A fundraising committee backing President Barack Obama's 2012 reelection bid has raised $39 million so far this year, with 11 percent of that sum coming from lawyers and lobbying shops from firms like Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, O'Melveny & Myers and Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom.

In fact, when it comes to raising campaign cash, no industry has been kinder to the president this year than the legal and lobbying trade, which has contributed a combined $4.3 million to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising effort by the incumbent's reelection committee and the Democratic National Committe, according to a report published by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics on its OpenSecrets.org Web site.

It's hardly shocking that the legal community would support a president who graduated from Harvard Law School, taught at the University of Chicago Law School, and once worked at Sidley Austin as a summer associate. What may be a surprise is some of the firms listed among the Obama campaign's top donors.

The president received $124,400 from Gibson Dunn and individuals connected to the firm, which disgraced plaintiffs' lawyer Bill Lerach once referred to as the "West Coast branch of the Bush Justice Department" in an op-ed for Portfolio magazine.

Lawyers from O'Melveny, whose chairman, Arthur "A.B." Culvahouse, led efforts on behalf of 2008 Republican presidential nomineee John McCain's campaign to vet vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, gave a total of $87,100 to the Obama Victory Fund.

Skadden topped the legal donor list, with the firm and individuals connected to it contributing a combined $141,500 to the president's campaign. The firm is the home of former White House counsel Gregory Craig, who chose Skadden over his former firm Williams & Connolly after leaving the Obama administration in November 2009. (Obama reportedly offered Craig a judgeship prior to his resignation.)

But the president isn't the only elected official tapping the Am Law 200 for political capital.

House Speaker John Boehner's Freedom Project political action committee reported that it raised more than $110,000 in August, Politico reports. Since the start of the year, Boehner's PAC has collected more than $29,000 from Wiley Rein, and $12,400 more collectively from Baker & Hostetler, SNR Denton, and Dickstein Shapiro, according to an analysis of federal campaign finance records by The Am Law Daily.

In other news from the intersection of politics and the law...

• Bracewell & Giuliani name partner—and former New York City mayor—Rudy Giuliani could ride his Texas ties to a place on the Republican ticket should Texas Governor Rick Perry land the GOP presidential nomination, the National Review suggests. The American Lawyer's Susan Beck wrote about Giuliani's partnership with Bracewell in a feature story for the magazine four years ago.

• Another GOP presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney, is relying on Boston-based Ropes & Gray corporate partner R. Bradford Malt, who also chairs the firm's management committee, to oversee the blind trust containing Romney's extensive financial holdings, Talking Points Memo reported.

Bain Capital, the Boston-based private equity firm cofounded by Romney, is a longtime Ropes client. Ropes and Romney, whose net worth is reportedly between $190 million and $250 million, attracted scrutiny earlier this month when it was revealed that another lawyer from the firm had established a company in April that donated $1 million to an independent PAC supporting Romney and then folded, according to the Boston Herald.

• A PAC of a slightly different stripe, the Colbert Super PAC set up by comedian and TV personality Stephen Colbert, saw Shauna Polk, a compliance coordinator at Caplin & Drysdale, replace a treasurer poached by Perry's campaign, according to Politico. The Washington, D.C.-based firm has been a key adviser to Colbert in setting up his PAC, according to our previous reports.

• Finally, former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, who reshuffled his defense team last week by adding Chadbourne & Parke's Abbe Lowell to replace Skadden's Craig, filed a motion asking a federal judge in Winston-Salem, N.C., to drop criminal charges accusing him of violating campaign finance laws. In June, The Am Law Daily took a look back at the firms that backed Edwards during his last presidential campaign in 2008.

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Of course these shops will pay to buy another Obama administration. In a world of liberal crony capitalism, the real winners are the lawyers who get their vigorish for using their personal connections to persuade the politicians to pick their clients as the economic winners.

It is very sad indeed that so much money would go to an administration that is destroying our country and its constitution day by day. We all know that it is for the sake of personal finances hoping that a new administration won't support tort reform. To hell with future generations who won't know what it was like to live in a country that was once the leader of the free world and is now just another weak nation.

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