Midtown Atlanta skyline. (Photo: John Disney / ALM)
Many Georgia Big Law attorneys – and more from New York, Washington, DC, and California – are donating to the four candidates in the highly competitive Georgia Senate runoff race.
Given the immense outside interest in the races, nongovernmental attorneys at large firms that don’t have offices in Atlanta have poured money into the race. These include lawyers from Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; Latham & Watkins; Cooley; Kirkland & Ellis; Sullivan & Cromwell; and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.
Overall, the attorneys’ contributions to Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock far exceeded those of incumbent Republicans Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. This continues the long-standing trend that lawyers and law firms heavily favor Democratic candidates in voting, said Brendan Quinn of the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan nonprofit that is tracking the data.
The top law firm for Ossoff’s campaign, with by far the most individualized legal contributions, was Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, while Atlanta-based Alston & Bird had the most lawyers contributing to Warnock. In particular, Californian plaintiff firm Lieff Cabreser Heimann & Bernstein had the second highest number of lawyers giving both Ossoff and Warnock.
For Perdue, Atlanta-based King & Spalding had the most lawyers. The only law firm with five or more lawyers to add to Loeffler, whose campaign is largely self-funded, was the Intercontinental Exchange’s legal department with five. Loeffler’s husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, owns the Atlanta-based Fortune 500 company, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange.
In total, the four individual campaigns and the associated political action committees for campaigns through December 4 raised a total of $ 103.34 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Ossoff has received at least $ 1.84 million from attorneys and law firms, making the legal industry his second largest contributor (after an education of $ 2.23 million). This emerges from the analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics of the recent election campaign documents at the Federal Elections Commission.
In contrast, the legal industry made only the fourth largest contribution to Ossoff’s opponent, Perdue, at $ 531,000 after the securities and investment, real estate and insurance industries.
In the Loeffler-Warnock race, the Democratic challenger raised at least $ 1.27 million from the legal industry – like Ossoff, who ranks second after education. In contrast, Loeffler received just $ 140,500 from the legal industry, behind contributions from the real estate, securities, and investment industries.
The majority of the $ 28.2 million ($ 23.35 million) in the Loeffler Campaign’s contributions came from Loeffler and her husband, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
At the Perdue Ossoff race, according to the latest FEC disclosure data, Ossoff received contributions from 2,126 individual lawyers, many from national firms outside Georgia. Wilmer led the pack of 30 lawyers, almost all in Washington, DC, followed by Lieff Cabraser at 18
There were 11 law firms with 10 or more individual lawyers – almost all in large law firms in Washington, California, and New York with no locations in Georgia.
The most important contributions from Ossoff’s law firms were rounded off by Wachtell Lipton (17), Skadden (16), Latham & Watkins (14), Sidley Austin (13), Alston & Bird (11), Cooley (10), Kirkland & Ellis (11 ) from New York 10), Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler (10) and Sullivan & Cromwell (10).
Only one Atlanta-based law firm, Alston & Bird, was among Ossoff’s top donors by number of attorneys, though attorneys from many other large local law firms have contributed.
A high profile Atlanta law firm, Bondurant Mixson & Elmore, had eight attorneys who contributed to Ossoff – and seven who contributed to Warnock – as the firm only has 34 attorneys. King & Spalding (9) and Kilpatrick Townsend & Crews (8); were the other top Atlanta-based attorney firms who contributed to Ossoff.
On the Republican side, Perdue picked up contributions from only 377 individual lawyers. At the top of the list was King & Spalding with 15 lawyers. King & Spalding’s lawyers also contributed to the Ossoff and Warnock campaigns, but in smaller numbers.
Perdue’s other top employees were at Alston & Bird and Paul Weiss, each with 10 lawyers. Other law firms with five or more attorneys who contributed to Perdue included: Delta Air Lines Legal Department (6), Kirkland & Ellis (6), Atlanta-based Taylor English Duma (6), and Adams, Barfield & Baity from Middle Georgia five lawyers.
Attorneys from several other prominent firms in New York and Washington were among Perdue’s contributors, albeit in fewer numbers.
Warnock received contributions from 1,459 lawyers, and like Ossoff, these were dominated by employees of large corporations in New York, California and Washington, DC, according to the latest FEC data.
Alston & Bird was the senior legal firm of Warnock with 17 attorneys (all but one based in Atlanta), followed by Lieff Cabraser with 16 employees.
Next came Kilpatrick, 11, Paul Weiss, 9, and – with eight attorneys each in Warnock – plaintiffs Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen, Covington & Burling, Dentons and Jones Day of Virginia. Lawyers from these law firms also contributed to Ossoff.
According to FEC data, Loeffler had only 102 attorneys led by the Intercontinental Exchange’s legal department, with five contributing to their campaign.
Big law attorney donations are still only a fraction of the millions of dollars in nongovernmental money poured down the drains from outside super-PACs controlled by the parties, not the candidates.
“Most of the money comes from outside Georgia. This runoff is unique because control of the Senate comes from these two Senate races in the same state, ”said Quinn of the Center for Responsive Politics.
PACs have spent at least $ 150 million since the November 3rd general election alone – nearly two-thirds come from super PACs who are not involved in official campaigns, according to a constitutional report by the Atlanta Journal.
Law firms cannot contribute directly to candidates, so law firms use traditional PACs that cap contributions to $ 5,000 or less per employee per election cycle. “With races this expensive, it’s kind of a drop in the bucket,” Quinn said of the PACS law firm, noting that far more money comes from party-controlled super PACs. You do not disclose individual donors and can spend unlimited amounts regardless of the candidates.
Campaigns must submit their next submissions to the FEC by December 24th.