Tracing cash from wealthy law firms to Senators who voted 'nay' on S397
With the exception of a pro-S. 397 editorial from a California news daily, most in the media are still writhing in agony over the pass age of the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act."
Instead of their anti-gun rhetoric, an recent op-ed shows that what a responsible media should be reporting on is how greedy lawyers were behind most of the fight on this sensible tort reform legislation.
In a piece published at ChronWatch.com, author and researcher Howard Nemerov revealed that the same Senators who received heavy campaign donations from lawyers were the same ones who voted against tort reform during the hearing of S.397.
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From Nemerov's revealing op-ed:
- In 2004, lawyers contributed over $180 million in federal campaign contributions. A perusal of those who voted “Nay” on this bill is a Who’s Who of senators who received this campaign money:
· The 31 senators who voted “Nay” received nearly as much law firm money as the 65 who voted “Aye.”
· For 31% those who voted “Aye,” lawyers were the number one industry contributor.
· Among those who voted “Nay,” lawyers were number one for 74%.
Nemerov points out that with every defeat in Congress, the Brady bunch attemtps to blame a powerful "special interest" - namely the NRA. But despite their misdirected rhetoric, Nemerov notes that indeed there very much was a "special interest" component in the debate over S. 397:
- Those senators voting against tort reform are clearly more influenced by campaign contributions from lawyers. Thus, we have a series of direct links between [Brady Campaign President] Michael Barnes, the heavily-vested interests of wealthy law firms, and anti-gun politicians, all interested in maintaining these frivolous liability suits for financial reasons
Mr. Barnes complains of “powerful special interests” having undue influence on the decision-making processes in Congress. In a sense, he is absolutely correct.
In 2002, there were 695,000 lawyers in the United States. Their campaign contribution for that year’s election cycle was $95,478,421 or $137 per lawyer. According to Mr. Barnes, this is not “powerful special interests.” During the same cycle, the National Rifle Association contributed $2,027,889. Since the NRA has about 3 million members, this averages out to 68 cents per member. Rather than avail themselves of readily-available monetary wealth, as news reports imply, the organization practices what Barnes implies is the subversive, anti-democratic method of voter activism:
As former Clinton spokesman George Stephanopoulos said, “Let me make one small vote for the NRA. They’re good citizens. They call their Congressmen. They write. They vote. They contribute. And they get what they want over time.”
While lawyers contributed their $180 million during the 2004 election cycle, the NRA’s contributions dropped to $1,151,130, or about 38 cents per member: this is “powerful special interests;” 695,000 lawyers, donating about $260 each, is not.
Baron & Budd, supporter of gun manufacturer liability lawsuits like the Beretta case mentioned above, contributed $1,257,722 during the election cycle, more than the entire NRA, and they are only the third highest law firm contributor. Employing “over 80 attorneys,” this averages out to about $15,000 per attorney. According to Barnes, this level of contribution by lawyers, seeking to maintain a favorable legal environment for potentially valuable tort litigation, merely symbolizes “the little guys” trying to fend off special interest manipulation of Congress.
Nemerov's conclusion about why S. 397 is now on its way to President Bush's desk is that "the people, not the moneyed interests, of America spoke to their senators, who responded by voting to ban frivolous lawsuits, which attempt to hold manufacturers accountable for the illegal actions of violent criminals. Barely able to scrape together $86,000 for the 2004 election cycle, Mr. Barnes and the Brady Campaign have once again tried to convince the public that Godzilla is really Bambi."