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If contributions from law firms are any bellwether of overall fund-raising patterns, then it looks like Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) will march toward the Democratic nomination in the 2008 presidential election with her war chest full. Clinton has received more money from law firms and lawyers on a national basis than has any other individual candidate, having culled approximately $2.4 million from the legal profession in the current two-year election cycle. The same holds true locally: Clinton’s campaign has brought in almost $300,000 from D.C.’s 20 richest law firms alone. Collectively, the 20 highest-grossing law firms in the D.C. area (as determined by Legal Times‘ annual survey) have given $5.73 million in federal campaign contributions in the current election cycle. The chart, when following this link, lists campaign contributions from the D.C. 20 according to data released electronically by the Federal Election Commission on Aug. 7. (The Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan organization that tracks campaign finance, compiled the data for Legal Times.) The numbers reflect contributions by the firms’ employees and by firms’ political action committees, if they have one. Half of the firms in the D.C. 20 do, and about a quarter of the total amount of campaign contributions in this election cycle went through those PACs. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld not only leads the pack in terms of campaign contributions but stands head and shoulders above the rest of the D.C. 20. It has doled out $1.16 million in this election cycle so far, accounting for 20 percent of the total amount of contributions by D.C. 20 firms. Akin Gump gave 50 percent more than the next-largest contributor, also a lobbying giant, Patton Boggs, which gave $770,498. Rounding out the top five contributors are Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; Hogan & Hartson; and Sidley Austin. HILLARY POWER And who got the cash? The biggest winner by far is Clinton, whose campaign received a total of $298,245 from the D.C. 20 firms (this figure doesn’t include the money donated to her PAC). Clinton’s support was both widespread and deep. She received money from 19 of the D.C. 20 firms. For eight of these firms, the contribution to Clinton’s campaign represented the firms’ largest to any individual candidate; for another six, their Clinton contribution ranked as their second- or third-largest. Clinton received $71,780, $62,300, $40,088, and $23,000 from Skadden, Akin Gump, Patton Boggs, and Williams & Connolly, respectively. Clinton’s numbers do not surprise lawyers and lobbyists around town, who attribute them to the organization and aggressiveness of her campaign’s fund-raising efforts as well as the fact that she is the perceived front-runner for the Democratic nomination in the 2008 election. “A lot of that is personal,” says Michael House, the director of Hogan & Hartson’s legislative group and the treasurer of the firm’s PAC. “Bill Clinton was in office for eight years. There are people from that administration in every firm in this town.” Clinton’s campaign reaped 134 percent more than the next-biggest recipient from the D.C. 20, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), who brought in $127,650. Bayh is not up for re-election this November, but he also may toss his hat in the ring for the 2008 Democratic nomination. Bayh’s campaign fund-raising team is extremely active as well, House says, adding that Bayh was an associate at Hogan’s D.C. office in 1983. The firm’s largest contribution to any individual candidate, totaling $21,600, went to Bayh. Other Democratic senators who are potential presidential contenders and have raised significant funds from the D.C. 20 include Sens. Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Joseph Biden (Del.), who brought in $64,441 and $45,775, respectively, while possible Republican contender Sen. George Allen (Va.) received $54,640. Hogan & Hartson’s House notes that Allen’s numbers reflect that his campaign’s fund-raising efforts are nationally focused and haven’t concentrated on law firms. “Sometimes this giving is defensive,” says Brett Kappel, who is of counsel with the D.C. office of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease and focuses on government relations and campaign-finance law. “You don’t not want to give to someone who ends up winning,” he explains, adding that, after all, those who don’t win typically remain in the Senate. Not surprisingly, the D.C. 20 firms contributed more money to incumbents. For example, Jim Webb, the Democrat who is challenging Allen for his Senate seat, only raised $4,500. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) has raised $66,400 from the D.C. 20 for his very tight Senate race in Pennsylvania, while his Democratic challenger Bob Casey has brought in $31,350. In another close race, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) raised $45,127, while his Democratic challenger Jim Pederson raised $2,300. In terms of party split, Democrats took home about 64 percent of the total funds contributed by the D.C. 20, with approximately 36 percent going to Republicans. Overall, the firms gave $111,594, $311,050, and $197,718 to the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, respectively. On the other side of the aisle, the firms contributed $248,130, $126,190, and $88,126 to the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and the National Republican Congressional Committee, respectively. Although the figures above show more money going to Democrats, they reflect an aggregate of contributions from the firms’ PACs and lawyers at the firms. Most law firm PACs strive to be bipartisan, according to D.C. lawyers and lobbyists. “A lot of structure is designed to make sure equal consideration is given to Republicans and Democrats,” says Timothy May, a partner at Patton Boggs and the treasurer of that firm’s PAC. The D.C. 20 made significant contributions to candidates in area Senate races. Rep. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), who is running for the Maryland Senate seat being vacated by Paul Sarbanes (D), brought in a total of $84,242 from the firms, making him the third-largest recipient of D.C. 20 cash, behind Clinton and Bayh. The D.C. mayoral candidates, however, didn’t fare as well. According to data from the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance, current through Aug. 10, only two of the D.C. 20 firms, Arnold & Porter and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, donated money to the two leading candidates, D.C. Council member Adrian Fenty (Ward 4) and D.C. Council Chairman Linda Cropp. Both firms gave $2,000 to each candidate’s campaign. Meanwhile, Fenty also received a $1,000 contribution from Dickstein Shapiro, while Wiley Rein & Fielding gave $500 to Cropp’s campaign. These numbers, however, reflect only funds contributed by the law firms and don’t include donations from the firms’ lawyers on an individual basis.
Alexia Garamfalvi can be contacted at [email protected].

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