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Lawyers give more money to political campaigns than does any other industry. During the 2004 elections, lawyers donated $183.8 million. So far in 2008, they've given $103 million, and we have 7 months to go until the election. Approximately 75% of the lawyer's money goes to Democrats. Lawyers, and specifically trial lawyers, are the Democrats number one special interest group, and have been for years. By comparison, the industry that donates the biggest percentage to Republicans is Oil/Gas. They are 16th on the industry donor list, having given $11.5 million in 2008. 73% of that goes to the GOP. You can find the donor numbers at opensecrets.org. The other big Democratic donor industries are Securities/Investment (like Bear Stearns), TV/Movies/Music (the liberal media), and Education (failing public schools/teacher's unions).
So, what do lawyers get in return for all that money they are throwing at the Democrats ?
Well, the Dems let the Protect America Act expire rather than grant immunity to the telecom companies that aided the government in tracking terrorists following 9/11. The lawyers have billions in lawsuits waiting in the wings there. Even national security took a back seat to the trial lawyers on that issue. That's what the Dems do for the trial lawyers. Dems block tort reform, block medical malpractice reform, block 'loser pays' lawsuit reform, and block damages award caps. Democrats are a trial lawyer's dream come true. Dems allow lawyers to continue to feed at the trough, uninhibited. Dems are money in the bank for trial lawyers. It's no wonder that Obama, Hillary, and John Edwards are all lawyers. No wonder all three of them buy into the ideas of victimology and entitlement. It's in their DNA. Everybody I know thinks our society has become overly litigious (except the litigators living in their mansions. They think it's peachy). Democrats are the reason our society is so sue happy. It's a big part of their agenda.
This leads me to the prestigious law firm of Milberg Weiss LLC (and by 'prestigious', I mean 'crooked as hell'). Milberg Weiss is one of the big tort law firms, and their specialty is class action lawsuits against corporations on behalf of their shareholders. You see, if shareholders don't get the expected return on their stock investment, the landsharks at Milberg Weiss are ready and willing to call that fraud or mismanagement, and sue the corporation. I kid you not. If you are a corporation and your stock price drops, Milberg Weiss will sue you if they can get enough of your stockholders to go along. Another specialty of Milberg Weiss is the so-called 'strike suit', which is a lawsuit that is so expensive to defend that corporations find it easier and less expensive to settle rather than fight. I'm pretty sure they used to call that extortion in the old days, but this is a brave new world.
There was a bigger problem with Milberg Weiss - they gave kickbacks to shareholders who provided primary testimony against the corporations they were suing. In other words, the testimony was bought and paid for, and that IS fraud, big time.
To call Milberg Weiss successful is an understatement. A 2004 Forbes article estimated Milberg Weiss lawsuit winnings at $30 billion. A couple weeks ago, I heard a Wall Street Journal analyst say it was up to $45 billion by 2008. The pattern of corruption at Milberg Weiss was mind boggling. They paid millions in kickbacks.
When the Bush Justice Department indicted several Milberg Weiss attorneys in 2006, after investigations that had been going on since the Clinton administration, Democrats in the US Congress rushed to their defense. The Dems politicized the indictments (surprise, surprise !) by issuing the following accusatory statement against the Bushies, which was signed by four Democrat Congressmen - Charles Rangel, Carolyn McCarthy, Gary Ackerman and Robert Wexler:
“The unprecedented recent indictment of Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman is a very thinly veiled attempt by the Bush Administration to accomplish by bullying and intimidation what it has not been able to do by law - to end class-action lawsuits, one of the few tools remaining to safeguard the American consumer.”
That is typical Dem hyper-partisanship, but Rangel and company had a bit of a problem - Milberg Weiss attorneys were guilty as hell, and now the convictions are coming down. Seymour Lazar, retired, was convicted of paying $2.6 million to "professional plaintiffs" [link], and previously was found guilty of obstruction of justice, filing a false tax return, and making false statements to the court. Mel Weiss pled guilty to conspiring to obstruct justice by hiding secret payments to plaintiffs in securities lawsuits [link]. The prosecutor in the case against Mel Weiss said the firm has been running this scam for 25 years. Bill 'The King Of Torts" Lerach was also convicted in the kickback scheme [link]. Several others are still awaiting trial.
So, what kind of prison time did these felonious mass corrupters of the justice system get ?
You're gonna love this part.
After defrauding and extorting corporations for 25 years, bribing witnesses, giving kickbacks, obstructing justice, lying to the court, and collecting tens of billions in ill-gotten gains from it all....
Seymour Lazar got probation (he's 80 years old). Mel Weiss got 20-33 months, and Bill Lerach got 2 years. You'd get more time than that if you robbed $200 from the local mini mart.
Isn't it great to have friends in high places ?
Btw, Hillary Clinton has received more money from Milberg Weiss than any other member of Congress. Barack Obama received a lesser amount.