They say that politics makes for strange bedfellows. But this is ridiculous.
Kenneth Starr’s Law Firm Gives More Money to Clinton
By Lindsay Fortado
July 31 (Bloomberg) — Lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis, the law firm that’s home to Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr and Bush administration official Jay Lefkowitz, have given more to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign than to all of the top Republican candidates combined. (Story.)
Not only strange bedfellows, but bedfellows whose reasoning is on the counter-intuitive side. Check this bit.
Kirkland, based in Chicago, is one of several corporate law firms that traditionally backed Republicans where lawyers are turning to Democratic candidates. Lawyers say the change is largely due to disenchantment with the Republican Party’s social policies and the war in Iraq.
So you’re throwing your money behind a candidate who … led a public assault on Grand Theft Auto and helped Dubya get us into the war and keep us there?
Snark aside, this is an important story for other reasons. Dr. Denny has written about the role lawyers play in campaign fundraising, but my perception has been that it was trial lawyers who were the legal industry’s biggest Dem-backers, whereas corporate lawyers (like Starr’s partners) were more likely to favor the GOP. (I’ll defer to Denny’s expertise on this if he’d like to jump in.)
However, we may be seeing a pretty major shift, and it looks like it goes well beyond the legal industry.
Large U.S. firms such as Jones Day and Sidley Austin, which donated more to President George W. Bush in 2000 than to Democratic candidate Al Gore, are giving thousands more to Democratic hopefuls than Republicans. Top Wall Street investment banks and hedge funds are also giving more to Democrats.
The donations of big firm lawyers mirror those of the largest Wall Street investment bankers who have also backed Democrats this year. Employees at the top 10 Wall Street investment banks gave more than $1.4 million to Democrats and a little more than $900,000 to Republicans, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
The article suggests multiple factors driving the shift: business was good when Bubba was in the White House; lawyers are uneasy with the GOP’s radical policies; no clear Republican frontrunner has emerged; lawyers want to be on the good side of whoever wins, and right now they think that’s going to be a Democrat; and ironically enough, this issue, which goes to the heart of what the Bush administration will be remembered for:
[DLA Piper partner and former Michigan governor Jim] Blanchard, who has known the Clintons for more than 25 years, said the shift to Democrats “has a lot to do with the war in Iraq, Guantanamo, torture” and controversies regarding Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.”Lawyers are much more sensitive to civil liberties and our constitutional foundation and the rule of law,” he said.
If you’re a Republican candidate or strategist, the worst part of this news is that it appears Bush has (as some of us have been predicting for a few years now) done significant and lasting damage to the GOP brand. Bush isn’t running, but those who are in the race are paying for his sins. Apparently they are not viewed as independent entities – it looks as though they’re seen as likely to continue Bush’s corruption and excess, not reform it.
This is fine. I’ve said repeatedly that George Bush would do more damage to the GOP than an army of Hillarys ever could, and all of these Republican candidates enabled him and The Dick at every turn.
Hopefully the Dems are paying attention. If they want to be able to count on more of that sweet lawyer money in 2012, they might want to pay a little respect to the rule of law should they find themselves in power. That means that on day one you wake up understanding that you’re President, not Emperor.