Monday, February 18, 2008

Trial Lawyers Cash in by Suing Phone Companies Who Protect Americans from Terrorists

On Wednesday, February 13, 2008, Townhall journalist Amanda Carpenter published an article that appears to show a connection between Senate campaign contributions from trial lawyers and the Senate vote on the Protect America Act.

Carpenter observed:

As Congress debates giving immunity to phone companies that assisted the government in tracking terrorist communications, trial lawyers prosecuting those phone companies have poured money into the coffers of Democratic senators, representatives and causes.

Court records and campaign contribution data reveal that 66 trial lawyers representing plaintiffs in lawsuits against these phone companies donated at least $1.5 million to Democrats, including 44 current Democratic senators...

On Wednesday, the Senate held a critical vote on an amendment to the FISA reauthorization that would grant this immunity. It passed, but 29 Democratic senators voted against it. 24 of them have accepted campaign contributions from trial lawyers who are suing the government over those activities.

Two of them are running for President.

Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.), who is in the running for the Democratic nomination, was given $28,650 from trial lawyers listed as counsel for plaintiffs who are suing those companies becuase they turned over phone records as a part of President Bush’s covert phone surveillance program. $19,150 of that was donated in the last year.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y), the other main contender for the Democratic presidential bid, also accepted money from trial lawyers on the case. Records show those lawyers have poured $34,800 to her and her husband’s campaigns over the years. $12,150 of those donations were made to her within the last year.

The other 22 senators who opposed the amendment and have taken similar donations are: Joe Biden (Del.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Ben Cardin (M.D.), Chris Dodd (Conn.), Byron Dorgan (N.D.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Russ Feingold (Wisc.), Teddy Kennedy (Mass.), John Kerry (Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Carl Levin (Mich.) Robert Menendez (N.J.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Harry Reid (Nev.) Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.).

Clinton did not vote Tuesday because she was campaigning. She has, however, voted against granting telephone companies immunity and other FISA reforms in the past.

Since 1997, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) accepted donations from three lawyers working the FISA case that amount to $10,000. The No.2 Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, who is charged with whipping votes, has accepted $18,350 from 1996 through 2007 from lawyers listed as counsel against phone companies. [Full text]

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