Since presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney tapped him as his running mate, Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan’s fund-raising ability has gotten plenty of attention. And as is true of many of his fellow politicians, among those Ryan counts on for financial support are Am Law 200 lawyers and employees.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics’s OpenSecrets website, lawyers and law firms have donated $68,025 to Ryan’s campaign coffers during the current election cycle, making them his eighth-largest group of contributors. Lawyers and law firms gave another $57,370 to Ryan’s political action committee, Prosperity PAC, during that period, good for sixth place in that category.
Of the law firms to crack OpenSecrets’s list of the top contributors to Ryan’s campaign in 2012—based on Federal Elections Commission data through August 6—Alston & Bird ranks the highest. The firm’s lawyers and employees have donated a total of $9,500 to Ryan’s campaign, either as individuals or as part of a PAC set up by the firm. That sum puts Alston & Bird in a tie with Blue Cross/Blue Shield and the Credit Union National Association for 25th place when ranking Ryan’s contributors. (Insurance company Northwestern Mutual’s $19,500 in donations puts it at the top of that list.)
Other Am Law firms that have given to Ryan include Patton Boggs ($7,000), Hogan Lovells ($6,500), and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld ($5,250). Kirkland & Ellis gave $5,000 to Ryan’s campaign and another $6,300 to his Prosperity PAC.
Reuters notes that Ryan is among the top fund-raisers in Congress. His congressional campaign committee has $5.4 million in cash on hand, with $4.3 million of that sum raised during the election cycle. Add to that total the $3.7 million raised during the current cycle by Prosperity PAC, and it’s clear that at least some of the congressman’s backers have plenty of money to give.
The lead contributors to both the campaign and the PAC were retirees, followed by securities and investment professionals, according to OpenSecrets. (The Washington Post notes that hedge fund employees and executives, such as Elliott Management’s Paul Singer, are among Ryan’s biggest backers.)
It’s not entirely surprising that Akin Gump and Patton Boggs have contributed to Ryan’s campaigns. As The Am Law Daily has reported, Romney aide and former Akin Gump litigation associate Beth Myers headed up the vice presidential search that led to Ryan’s selection. Patton Boggs also has connections to Romney’s new running mate. The Romney campaign’s general counsel, Kathryn Biber, is a former associate at the firm, and deputy general counsel Megan Sowards is an associate on leave from the firm.
OpenSecrets shows that both firms have a history of supporting Ryan’s campaigns. Akin Gump contributed $7,000 to the politician’s 2010 congressional run, while Patton Boggs gave Ryan $6,000 during the same cycle. The Blog of Legal Times reported earlier this year that the two firms, both of which count political lobbying among their strengths, were also among the top contributors to Romney’s campaign last year.
The law firm contributing the most to Ryan two years ago actually came from outside the Am Law ranks: Milwaukee-based Meissner Tierney Fisher & Nichols, which contributed $7,900 to the Janesville campaign.
A report last month by The Washington Post showed that, through mid-June, lawyers and law firms were among the top donors to the two presidential candidates. That trend continues, with OpenSecrets—using FEC data released July 21—showing lawyers and law firms have thus far given $5.9 million to Romney’s campaign and $13.8 million to President Barack Obama’s reelection effort.