Out-of-state trial lawyers to host Texas fundraiser for Graham

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)  

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) will head to Houston, Texas, later this month to do something quite rare for a Republican — raise money from trial lawyers, according to Texas Lawyer.

The April 20 fundraiser will be led by "superstar plaintiffs lawyer Mark Lanier" and "tort reform foes," according to the article.

Lanier's "bash for Graham comes as House Republicans advance tort reform proposals," such as legislation that would reform class action lawsuits and the asbestos bankruptcy trust system.

"Graham, a former trial lawyer himself, holds a pivotal position as one of 11 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which would consider such proposals and has nine Democrats," reported Texas Lawyer. "If Graham casts his vote with the Democrats, he creates a tie and could halt the progress of tort reform proposals getting to the full Senate for a vote."

Graham's support from out-of-state plaintiffs' lawyers isn't new, as last year the senator drew headlines when it was reported he was the only Republican to receive contributions from the now-embattled Boston-based trial lawyer firm, Thornton Law Firm.

Last year, federal prosecutors reportedly launched a grand jury investigation into alleged illegal political donations made by the firm.

The law firm was the subject of a multi-piece Boston Globe investigative report that raised questions about whether the firm's partners contributed money to politicians, only to be paid bonuses by the firm to cover most of those costs.

The report, completed jointly with the Center for Responsive Politics, looked at $1.6 million donated between 2010 and 2014 by the firm's partners and one of their wives. It then found that $1.4 million was given back to the partners, most of it within 10 days of the donations being made.

"This pattern of payments — contributions offset by bonus payments — was commonplace at Thornton, according to a review of law firm records by the Spotlight Team and the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based nonprofit that tracks campaign finance data," the Boston Globe reported.

Graham received $62,800 from the firm over the span of 10 years, according to the investigation by the Boston Globe and the Center for Responsive Politics. 

A number of leading Democratic politicians and elected officials, including Hillary Clinton, have either returned or vowed to return political contributions they received from the firm.

In December, Graham's office told Palmetto Business Daily that the senator's campaign would return contributions to the firm only if they were found to have been made illegally. 

In advance of next week's event, Texas Lawyer reported that host Lanier made the purpose of the fundraiser clear in an email to invitees.

“Our goal is to show Senator Graham an appreciation from both sides of the bar for what he can help do, especially with tort reform running rampant from the House."

Texas Lawyer reported that ticket prices for the event "range from $500 to $5,400.”

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Organizations in this Story

Thornton Law Firm LLP U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham

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