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What is it about Montana politicians and the trial lawyers?



The things you find reading through the schedule for the American Association for Justice's annual convention, Part II... (Part I is here.)

Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) has scheduled a fundraising reception for Sunday evening, July 10, at the Hilton New York, hitting up the trial lawyers for contributions to his re-election campaign.

Tester is running against Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), and the Democrat's prospects depend greatly on his maintaining his image as a regular Joe, a working rancher true to his Montana ways, untempted by Washington. (See this May 20 Washington Post feature.) But there's no more Washington of Washington special interests than the trial lawyer lobby.

The AAJ has an affinity for Montana Democrats. Gov. Brian Schweitzer was a featured speaker at the 2008 convention in Philadelphia, where he invited controversy by "joking" about manipulating the results of the 2006 election in which Tester narrowly defeated Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT). In January 2010, the Democratic governor jetted off to Hawaii for the AAJ's winter gathering.

The AAJ is also promoting an appearance of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) at the summer convention, scheduled July 9-13 in Manhattan. Brown is the invited guest at Sunday's meeting of the AAJ PAC Club M luncheon. The online promotion touts:

Please join AAJ PAC for a special luncheon to thank members who contribute $1,000 or more per year to AAJ PAC with invited speaker Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Senator Brown is a true champion of the civil justice system and will give a firsthand update on the issues affecting your clients and your practice in the U.S. Senate.

M Club members know that choosing a member of Congress is as important as choosing a jury and their support is the backbone of AAJ PAC.

That's bald, isn't it? We can't buy juries, but we can sure buy ...

The trial lawyer/Democratic fundraising connection was also in the public eye last summer when 11 U.S. Democratic Senate candidates traveled to the AAJ's convention in Vancouver, B.C., raising money at an event featuring Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-MT). Attendance at the fundraiser quickly became an issue in Senate races in Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, and elsewhere.

The only other fundraiser we see scheduled for this July's NYC annual convention is for Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA), the former president of the Iowa Trial Lawyer Association. He's a regular.


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Isaac Gorodetski
Project Manager,
Center for Legal Policy at the
Manhattan Institute
igorodetski@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Press Officer,
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.