Lawyers Spend Big on Campaigns
California Lawyer

Lawyers Spend Big on Campaigns

by Emily Loftis

November 2012

Campaign contributions have poured into the 2012 election contests in record amounts, and lawyers and law firms nationwide have been among the top donors. They gave more than $147 million by October to candidates for everything from judgeships to the presidency, and supplied 264 lobbyists with $20 million in the past year to realize their legislative goals. Legal interests have also doused ballot initiative committees in California with money: Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, had pulled in more than $460,000 from attorneys nationwide by mid-September, and the ACLU single-handedly put up $577,000 for Prop. 34, which would end California's use of the death penalty.

The lion's share of donations from law firms - between 69 and 77 percent - have for at least two decades gone to Democratic candidates. The American Association of Justice, which advocates for plaintiffs trial lawyers, is a top contributor, spending at least $3 million on candidates during the 2011-12 election cycle. Massive donations from the financial sector to Republican candidates - to the tune of $249 million by October - may also motivate plaintiffs firms to give to Democrats, says Russ Choma of the Center for Responsive Politics

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