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Hedging their bets: Trial lawyers PAC gives to Specter, Sestak

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) has been a boon ally of the American Association for Justice this session of Congress, introducing several priority pieces of legislation for the trial lawyers, including S. 437, to allow the deduction of attorney-advanced expenses and court costs in contingency fee cases, and S. 1504, the Notice Pleadings Restoration Act, to return federal pleadings to the pre-Iqbal and Twombly standards.

No surprise, then, the AAJ's political action committee contributed $4,000 to Sen. Specter's re-election campaign in 2009 ($1,500 on May 13 and $2,500 on August. 5.) You stick by your friends...

All your friends, apparently, even when they're fighting one another. The American Association for Justice PAC also contributed $5,000 to Specter's Democratic primary opponent, Rep. Joe Sestak.

Granted, half of that amount was given before Sestak announced his challenge of Specter (Feb. 23 and March 23), but half was also given in June (here and here) after Sestak had announced his Senate candidacy.

Contributing to both candidates is not that unusual of a maneuver for political action committees, but we doubt Specter appreciates the sentiment: Thanks, Senator. If you have to lose, we hope it's to Sestak.

And in fact, now that we look at December reports, we see that the AAJ PAC kicked in another $5,000 to Specter, this time identified for the Senator's general election campaign. So, total $9,000.

Drop in the bucket, in any case. According to Federal Election Commission records, AAJ PAC raised $2,558,746 in 2009 and gave $1,810,500 to campaign committees. The Center for Responsive Politics reports that 95 percent of the contributions went to Democrats in the current election cycle. (Another $1 million plus change went to pay principal and interest on a loan from Private Bank and Trust of Chicago, for what we don't know.)

UPDATE (Saturday): Digging a little deeper, we see that the AAJ, ne ATLA, has previously taken out and repaid major loans from the Chicago bank. (See 2003-04 summary from Open Secrets and the 2005-2006 summary.) Campaigns do this sort of borrowing to manage cash flows, in our experience.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.