Trial lawyers helping Calif. AG financially dominate GOP challengers

By David Yates | May 21, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - With the weight of her war chest alone, California Attorney General Kamala Harris might be able to crush her four Republican challengers.

Entering the final homestretch for the June 3 primary, Harris has managed to stuff millions of dollars into her coffers, while her Republican opponents have less than $20,000 in political contributions between them, according campaign finance reports on file with Cal-Access.

In fact, the financial disparity between Harris and her competitors is so great that the attorney general out-raised all her opponents combined in a single day with donations from nine plaintiffs attorneys employed by the California law firm Robinson Calcagnie Robinson Shapiro Davis.

A late contribution report shows that on April 16, the firm's attorneys donated a total of $66,800 to Re-elect Attorney General Kamala Harris 2014.

The nine individual donations came from Kevin Calcagnie, William Shapiro, Allan Davis, Christopher Day, Shannon Lukei, Daniel Robinson, Jeoffrey Robinson, Mark Robinson and Donald Slavik.

In the first quarter of 2014, Harris netted $281,261.73 in campaign contributions. As of March 17, the attorney general had $3,164,965.88 in her campaign fund.

Financially speaking, her closest Republican opponent is Vietnam veteran Phil Wyman.

From Jan. 1 to March 17, Wyman raised $13,600, spent $7,289.49 and had $6,310.51 remaining his campaign fund, according to Cal-Access.

In second place is candidate Ron Gold, who on March 12 received a $5,000 donation from his law firm, Ron Gold Law.

There are no campaign finance reports on file for Republican attorney general candidates John Haggerty and David King.

Although King's coffers may be empty, the San Diego attorney gained media attention last week when he accused Harris of enabling a ballot initiative aimed at repealing the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, which currently caps non-economic damages at $250,000, in order to curry favor with trial lawyers.

"She (Harris) shamelessly misuses her authority to lay the foundation for her 2018 campaign for governor ... trial attorneys fund campaigns," King wrote in his May 9 column.

Politics not withstanding, a number of late contribution reports do show that several of Harris' more recent contributors include trial lawyers with prominent law firms:

-On April 2, Marc Seltzer of the Beverly Hills law firm Susman Godfrey donated $6,800;

-On April 10, California attorney Dominique Shelton of Alston & Bird donated $6,800.

-On April 14, Scot Wilson of Robinson, Calcagnie & Robinson donated $6,800;

-On April 16, Wylie Aitken, attorney with the California law firm Aitken Aitken Cohn, donated $6,800;

-On April 16, Robert Redfearn, an attorney with the New Orleans law firm Simon Peragine Smith, donated $2,500;

-On April 17, the Thomas Law group donated $3,500;

-On April 18, Karen Menzies, a California attorney with Robinson Calcagnie Robinson, donated $13,600;

-On April 18, New York attorney David Molton of Brown Rudnick donated $1,800; and

-On May 16, Bart Williams, attorney for the Los Angeles law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson, donated $2,500.

In the first quarter of 2014, Harris received several sizeable donations from the following attorneys:

-On Jan. 9, Laguna Beach attorney David Anderson donated $2,500;

-On Jan. 16, Laura Wasser, attorney for the Los Angeles law firm Wasser Cooperman and Carter, donated $2,500;

-On Feb. 5, Los Angeles attorney Charles Mostov donated $6,800; and

-On March 5, San Francisco attorney Steven Kay of Kay & Merkle donated $5,600.

As previously reported, in 2013 Harris raised $2,511,496.30 in total campaign contributions.

Harris' campaign finance reports show she received contributions from dozens of attorneys, including trial lawyers from out-of-state law firms.

Last February alone, eight donations came from the Dickstein Shapiro law firm and its attorneys.

Dickstein Shapiro, based in Washington, D.C., is also a lobbying group with six offices across the U.S.

Reach David Yates at elections@legalnewsline.com.

More News

The Record Network