Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, April 28, 2003


Page 1


Girardi & Keese Among Largest Donors to Democratic Candidates, Study Shows


From Staff and Wire Service Reports


The Los Angeles law firm of Girardi & Keese is responsible for the third largest chunk of donations to Democratic presidential candidates in the nation this year, a study shows.

An analysis of top givers released Thursday by the Center for Responsive Politics found that employees of the firm, which primarily represents plaintiffs in tort cases, have given at least $62,000, most of it to Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.

Only the New York-based investment firm of Goldman Sachs and the Dallas, Tex. law firm of Baron & Budd account for more.

Corporations, law firms, and similar entities cannot donate directly to federal candidates. To prepare its report, the center explained, it grouped the contributions from each entity’s registered political action committee with those made by its individual officers and employees and members of their immediate families.

The center, a Washington-based nonprofit organization headed by Larry Noble, a former Federal Elections Commission general counsel, also looked at top contributors to each candidate, and reported that the Girardi firm is the largest single source of contributions to Edwards’ political efforts.

The firm is responsible for a combined total of $145,000 in donations to Edwards’ current campaign and to his Senate campaigns, the center reported. It has also given $235,000 to New American Optimists, a PAC formed by Edwards to aid other candidates, making it the second-largest donor to the PAC.

Edwards was a successful North Carolina trial attorney who emphasized his working-class origins in a campaign that unseated an incumbent senator in 1998. Although he had never held office before, he was considered by former Vice President Al Gore as a possible running mate in 2000 and leads all Democratic presidential contenders in fundraising.

Girardi & Keese has also donated to other Democrats around the country. The center’s website, citing FEC reports, shows Sen. Barbara Boxer; Reps. Hilda Solis, Linda Sanchez and Lois Capps; House candidates Gerrie Schipske and Ted Crissell; and House or Senate candidates in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Texas, Nevada, North Carolina, Maryland, Iowa and Minnesota received donations from the firm’s PAC, from senior partner Thomas Girardi, or from members of Girardi’s family.

Girardi & Keese is not the only Southern California firm to back the Edwards cause. Newport Beach’s Robinson, Calcagnie & Robinson was responsible for donations of $36,250 to Edwards’ campaigns and $50,000 to New American Optimists. The Santa Monica firm of Greene, Broillet, Panish & Wheeler gave $32,000 to the senatorial and presidential campaigns.

The Claremont firm of Shernoff, Bidart, & Darris has given $100,000 to New American Optimists.

Girardi did not return a MetNews phone call Friday. But Michael Bidart of Shernoff, Bidart, & Darris said the firm was happy to donate to a fellow trial lawyer.

“Bill Shernoff,” the firm’s founder, “kind of pioneered insurance bad faith in California,” Bidart explained, and “John Edwards has spent his career doing the same things we do.”

Edwards, he said, “understands consumers rights and will fight to protect them.” The firm, he said, intends to remain supportive of Edwards but its members have no particular plans to become involved in campaign operations.


Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company