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Lawyers spurn Trump campaign in individual donations, including from Jones Day

By Reuters | October 21st 2020

Lawyers at Jones Day, which has earned millions as outside counsel to U.S. President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, have donated nearly $90,000 to the campaign committee of Trump’s Democratic rival Joe Biden. Contributions to the Trump campaign by Jones Day lawyers totaled just $50, records show.

A Reuters analysis of Federal Election Commission records shows a wide gulf between individual lawyer donations to the candidates, with nearly $29 million going directly to Biden’s campaign and just under $1.75 million to Trump’s between Jan. 1, 2019 and Aug. 31, 2020. Lawyers at several other law firms representing Trump or his campaign also heavily favored Biden.

The figures reflect individual giving, not law firm contributions, and they rely on donors’ self-identification by occupation and employer. Reuters analyzed data on more than 120,000 contributions reported by the candidates’ principal campaign committees to the FEC on Sept. 20, which includes donations made up to Aug. 31. The data doesn’t include donations to political action committees, law firm PAC donations to federal candidates, or giving from lawyers’ spouses or dependents.

Lawyers have long donated more to Democratic presidential candidates than to Republicans, data shows. The profession leans left overall, according to a 2015 report by professors at Stanford University, the University of Chicago and Harvard University, partly because much of Big Law is based in liberal-leaning cities like New York and Los Angeles.

The firms whose lawyers have donated most to Biden’s campaign in the current election cycle, using rounded figures drawn from FEC data, are plaintiff-side giant Morgan & Morgan; the campaign’s outside counsel firm Covington & Burling; and Sidley Austin.

The firms whose lawyers have donated most to Trump’s re-election campaign are Fish & Richardson, Kirkland & Ellis and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Attorneys at each of those firms donated significantly more to Biden’s campaign - about 10 times more at Gibson Dunn and about 20 times more at Kirkland, the FEC data show.

Representatives for the firms either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

While Covington is both representing the Biden campaign and a top source of individual Biden campaign donations, the same doesn’t hold true for the Trump campaign and Jones Day, whose lawyers gave to Biden over Trump by a wide margin.

Jones Day has earned over $4.5 million since 2019 as outside counsel to the Trump campaign, FEC records show. Dave Petrou, a spokesman for Jones Day, did not respond to request for comment. Two Jones Day attorneys who asked to not be named said they donated to Biden because they preferred his policies and felt no pressure from colleagues to donate to Trump.

“It shouldn’t be news that rich, liberal lawyers in Biden’s pocket are desperately trying to make up for his lackluster candidacy or that every big law firm has lawyers on both sides of the political aisle,” Trump campaign spokeswoman Samantha Zager said in an emailed statement. Biden campaign spokesman Michael Gwin did not respond to a request for comment.

Lawyers at three other firms that have represented President Trump or his campaign - Porter Wright Morris & Arthur; Kasowitz, Benson & Torres; and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius - have also donated overwhelmingly to Biden.

Porter Wright received over $250,000 from the Trump campaign in August, while representing it in lawsuits over mail-balloting procedures in the battleground state of Pennsylvania. Its attorneys have donated $5,750 to Biden’s campaign and $0 to Trump’s, according to FEC data.

Robert Trafford, a Columbus, Ohio-based Porter Wright litigation partner who donated $1,000 to the Biden campaign last year, said his firm’s work for Trump’s campaign doesn’t “change the political giving of individual partners.”

“How I may feel about it really isn’t important,” he said. “I do think it’s important that the firm be able to take on representations even when they’re controversial.”

Representatives for Morgan Lewis, which has represented Trump on tax matters, and Kasowitz, Benson & Torres, home of Trump’s former longtime personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz, did not respond to requests for comment.


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