David Yates Aug. 15, 2014, 6:36am

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) – Numerous Congressional candidates are seeing their campaign coffers swell thanks to donations supplied by major asbestos law firms and their attorneys.

Some of the top asbestos firms in the nation have already contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars in the 2014 election cycle, including the Baron & Budd law firm based in Dallas and the Simmons Law Firm in Alton, Ill.

Baron & Budd ranks No. 1 in money spent in federal elections among major asbestos firms, with a total of $203,950 contributed by the firm and its employees, according to opensecrets.org.

Nearly half of the firm’s donations ($100,000) have been directed to the Senate Majority PAC, a committee dedicated to protecting and expanding the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate.

Baron & Budd attorneys have also contributed a total of $32,400 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, campaign finance reports show.

The top candidates receiving contributions from firm employees include: Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, ($12,600); Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., ($8,900); Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., ($7,100); and Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Texas, ($5,200).

Finishing as the runner-up, Simmons Law Firm attorneys have contributed $187,050 to congressional hopefuls in 2014, with the bulk of those donations directed to three candidates:

-Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., has received the most donations from Simmons attorneys, raking in $62,100;

-Ann Callis, the Democratic nominee challenging GOP Rep. Rodney Davis in Illinois’ 13th Congressional District, has reaped $36,850 from firm employees; and

-Rep. William Enyart, D-Ill., with $23,000 in contributions.

Callis is a former Madison County judge – a county known as a hotbed for asbestos claims.

Campaign finance reports show Simmons firm attorneys are supporting numerous Democratic Congressional candidates from Illinois, including Rep. Bill Foster ($12,500), Rep. Tammy Duckworth ($10,000), Sen. Dick Durbin ($9,300), Rep. Brad Schneider ($9,000) and Rep. Cheri Bustos ($8,250).

Coming in third is the New York asbestos law firm Weitz & Luxenberg, with $92,605 in total contributions, according to opensecrets.org.

The two primary politicians benefiting from the firm’s attorneys are Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., ($44,400) and Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, ($39,675).

Braley, a plaintiffs lawyer by trade and former head of the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association, is running for Senate and received heaps of media attention for his past remarks concerning Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley being a “farmer.”

In January, Braley told a group of trial lawyers at a Corpus Christi, Texas, fundraiser he needs their “help” to stop Grassley – an Iowa farmer prior to launching his extensive career in Congress – from becoming the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Attorneys for Motley Rice, one of the largest civil litigation firms in the country, have ponied up $75,000 so far in the 2014 election cycle, with one third ($25,000) of those donations going to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The top candidate recipients are:

-Elizabeth Colbert Busch, a South Carolina Democratic House candidate, $12,000;

-Senator Al Franken, D-Minn., $6,600;

-Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., $5,250;

-Plaintiffs attorney Curtis Osborne, a North Carolina Democratic House hopeful, $5,000; and

-Senate hopeful Michelle Nunn, D-Ga., $4,600.

Osborne was censured by the state bar last November for his handling of an automobile collision suit, in which he agreed to represent the driver and passenger. When he found out the driver was partially responsible for causing the collision, Osborne dropped her as client and named her as a defendant, according to an article in the Charlotte Observer.

Napoli Bern Ripka LLP, which has offices stretching from the width of the nation, rounds out the list, contributing $44,050, according to opensecrets.org.

The majority of the firm’s contributions ($32,400) were supplied to the Democratic National Committee.

Reach David Yates at elections@legalnewsline.com

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