Friday, July 9, 2004

With Sen. John Edwards now the presumptive Democratic nominee for vice president, a little research into his fund-raising history is in order.

During his unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Mr. Edwards raised just over $33 million. Of that, a little over $9.3 million came from lawyers and law firms, or approximately 28 percent. To put these figures into context, Mr. Edwards’ next largest group of donors were individuals classifying themselves as retired, who contributed $761,659, or 2 percent. This means that lawyers and law firms, Mr. Edwards’ largest benefactors, contributed more than 12 times as much as his next largest group of contributors. In fact, donations from lawyers accounted for far more than his next 20 groups of contributors combined. Sixteen of Mr. Edwards’ top 20 contributors were major law firms.

These figures don’t take into account donations made to Mr. Edwards’ political action committee, New American Optimists, which total about $6 million. Of that, approximately $4.1 million, or 68 percent, come from the coffers of lawyers and law firms. These donations, again, total far more than the contributions from the next 20 groups combined.

Mr. Kerry has some impressive statistics of his own. Of the almost $149 million he has raised thus far, lawyers and law firms come in as the highest donors at almost $12 million. Though this is a far smaller percentage (8 percent) than the one that adorns Mr. Edwards’ financial profile, these contributions are still almost twice as much as Mr. Kerry’s next largest group of contributors (also the retired, who have donated almost $6 million). Two out of Mr. Kerry’s top five contributors are major law firms. Mr. Kerry’s PAC, the Citizen Soldiers Fund, also lists lawyers and law firms as its top donors.

Combine the duo’s campaign contributors with their voting records, and some predictable parallels emerge. Mr. Edwards voted against exempting pro bono doctors from malpractice liability and against attempts to reform the malpractice system in 2002 and 2003. He also broadly opposes any sort of meaningful tort reform.

Mr. Kerry, of course, marches in lockstep. Although consistencies in his voting record are usually difficult to discern, Mr. Kerry’s unmistakable opposition to tort reform is a shining area of clarity. He has voted at least 10 times to block medical malpractice reform and staunchly opposes meaningful tort reform.

The uniformity of their campaign contributors and their legal reform voting records should make John Kerry and John Edwards co-defendants in the dock of public opinion regarding tort reform.

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