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When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger leaves on a weeklong trade mission to China next week, he’ll have dozens of business leaders at his side � and just one law firm leader: Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe Chairman Ralph Baxter Jr. For Orrick, the coup comes at an opportune time. Just this week Orrick opened the first of three offices it hopes to have in the region with lawyers from Coudert Brothers. “I am eager to be part of this,” Baxter said Thursday. “China is very important to us.” “I’m not going to China to drum up business,” he added. “I am going to China to learn, and that reflects Orrick’s commitment to China and Orrick’s involvement in the law practice of China.” The trade mission has spawned some controversy. The Sacramento Bee recently reported that some businesses were approached to give up to $50,000 to a tax-exempt group called the California Protocol Foundation, which is underwriting the cost of the trade mission. The Los Angeles Times reported that Chevron Corp., which is sending a delegate, has given the foundation $75,000 in the past two years. The foundation, which is run under the auspices of the California Chamber of Commerce, isn’t legally required to disclose its donors. Meanwhile, other groups are collecting business donations to fund advertising related to the trade mission. Orrick spokesman Tim Larimer confirmed that the firm had made a contribution to a nonprofit group affiliated with paying trip expenses. He said he couldn’t provide the name of the group or the amount Orrick donated. Katherine McLane, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office, couldn’t say specifically how Baxter was selected. “The delegation was assembled by the administration from suggestions by the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency; the Department of Food and Agriculture; and the Governor’s Commission for Jobs and Economic Growth, who looked for employers who stood to increase jobs in California, or sales of California goods and services, direct investment or the protection of California IP,” McLane said. The delegation will consist of media and entertainment executives, bankers and venture capitalists, and representatives of the wine, biotech, tourism, shipping, telecommunications, brewing, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. Baxter said somebody in Sacramento made the arrangements but said he didn’t know the details. He added that he’s a Democrat and doesn’t know Schwarzenegger personally. Campaign finance records show that less than a week before Tuesday’s Election Day drubbing, Orrick’s political action committee donated $10,000 toward defeating the governor’s ballot initiatives.

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