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Vice President Raises Funds from Trial Lawyers in Chicago

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Vice President Biden raised [update: at least] hundreds of thousands of dollars at an event in conjunction with the American Association for Justice's annual convention in Chicago Monday.

"You're the ones who say -- for all the malarkey you get -- you're well remunerated for what you do," Biden said. "... But man, I don't know what we'd do without you. Who is going to step up and take the case of the little guy who's getting screwed?"

You know, like all those little guys who used to work for the nation's largest gas can manufacturer, now losing their jobs because of frivolous litigation? Blitz U.S.A. closes today, putting 117 employees out of work. (Daily Oklahoman, Wall Street Journal editorial, "The Tort Bar Burns On," WSJ letters in response.)

Interesting how little advance notice of Biden's appearance there was. In the past, AAJ's full agenda for its convention would sometimes list outside political events. This time? Nope. Its as if the association of plaintiffs' attorneys was understood to be a political negative for candidates.

We recently wrote on how the AAJ's membership had dropped by half over the past decade, but AAJ's influence come less from its membership than its political contributions. To wit:

Alison Frankel of Thomsons/Reuters followed up on our report and received this defense of membership numbers from AAJ. It's misleading, an AAJ spokesman (Christopher Scholl) said, because the association has redefined its membership rules and culled its lists.

I asked Scholl for hard numbers to back his assurances of AAJ's continued success. He said the group does not disclose membership revenue, but he did send me a spreadsheet of contributions to AAJ's Political Action Committee, which are publicly reported. According to the spreadsheet, which goes back to 1995, 2011 was a record year for the PAC, which took in more than $2.7 million. That followed a slight dip in 2009 and 2010, when receipts were around $2.4 million a year. This year, the PAC had taken in $1.3 million as of June.
Fighting for the little guy by making millions of dollars of campaign contributions..

Scholl also wrote a blog post at www.fightingforjustice.org, "Big Numbers Expected at AAJ Convention." We read the post as defensive.

More Biden in Chicago, City of Broad Shoulders, which makes for really twisted arms:

[UPDATE: 9:25 a.m.] Bork bashing!

"Imagine the Supreme Court after four years of Romney. This is not scare tactics, just what he said," Biden said. "If you're frightened, it's because you should be. You know who his adviser on constitutional issues is? Appointed officially? Robert Bork."

No surprise coming from Biden. George Will, 1987, "Biden v. Bork."

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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

 

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The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.