Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What's wrong with this picture?

If you're a politician looking for money, not a thing. If you're someone concerned about ethics in government and corruption of the system, quite a bit.

Before I go into the details, let me say that I don't expect this to change. This is a practice as old as the hills. With that said, let me share something from today's New York Law Journal (yes, I read exciting stuff!). On the front page, they have a list of the top ten donors among New York law firms to Barack Obama & the DNC and the top ten to John McCain & the RNC. Without further adieu, here's the list:

Top 10 Law Firm Donors to Obama Campaign/DNC
Skadden Arps
Sullivan & Cromwell
Cravath, Swaine & Moore
Paul Weiss
Schulte Roth
Gibson Dunn
Simpson Thacher
Weil Gotshal
Jones Day
Davis Polk

Top 10 Law Firm Donors to McCain Campaign/RNC
Kasowitz Benson
Greenberg Traurig
Skadden Arps
Cravath, Swaine & Moore
Sullivan & Cromwell
Proskauer Rose
Simpson Thacher
Eaton & Van Winkle
Gibson Dunn
Babcock & Brown

Now, if you weren't aware of such things already (or if you aren't sufficiently cynical), you might think I made a mistake. After all, a number of those names are in both lists. People can't support both the Democrat and the Republican, right? Not only can they, but it's a common practice. For the ones who don't match up on both lists, I wouldn't be surprised to find them somewhere on the full donor list, if this weren't limited to the top ten.

These aren't contributions in support of a political view (the argument against contribution limits, since it's supposedly "free speech" to support one's political views). Rather, these firms are buying access, and companies, interest groups and wealthy donors all over the country do exactly the same thing. Pay both sides, so you have access, no matter who wins. It's nauseating, it's legal, and it's as American as apple pie!


Milhaud said...

Babcock & Brown is not a law firm

Jess said...

Milhaud: I think you're right, but it's on the list in the NYLJ article for some reason. Still, so lovely for a first-time commenter to stop by just to correct me. So, in the interests of correctness, I will concede that Babcock & Brown doesn't appear to be a law firm (unless there's another Babcock & Brown, but I doubt it). So that changes the point of the post how?

Jess said...

On the other hand, I found this on their website regarding James Babcock: "Jim co-founded Babcock & Brown in 1977. Prior to founding Babcock & Brown, James practiced corporate and tax law. James is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School where he was a member and officer of the Law Review. He is based in the San Francisco office."

So perhaps his donations through the firm got them on the list. No way to know, and, frankly, I don't care too much about it.

Ernie said...

Not just lawyers, but corporate people too. Jerry Yang of Yahoo! has contributed to both parties as well.

Par for the course in the Sili Valley.

Greg said...

It's like special interest groups trying to buy support.

Jess said...

Ernie: Yeah, I know, but the whole thing's really repulsive.

Greg: Exactly.