Biden donates Scruggs' contributions to charity

By Chris Rizo | Aug 23, 2008

Joe Biden (D)

Dickie Scruggs

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)- Democratic vice presidential hopeful Joe Biden has donated to charity contributions he received from disgraced trial lawyer Richard "Dickie" Scruggs and his two children, according to a federal campaign finance filing.

The Delaware Democrat, who was named Barack Obama's vice presidential running mate Saturday, donated $6,000 in contributions he received from Scruggs and his son Zach and daughter Claire, according to a campaign finance report filed Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission.

Dickie and Zach Scruggs are in federal prison after pleading guilty to attempting to bribe Lafayette County Circuit Court Judge Henry Lackey with $50,000 in exchange for a favorable ruling in a dispute over $26.5 million in legal fees from a settlement of Hurricane Katrina insurance cases.

The FEC report also indicates that Biden, donated contributions totaling $4,600 from Mississippi attorney Timothy Balducci and former Mississippi Auditor Steven Patterson to the National Prostate Cancer Coalition.

Scruggs is serving a five-year sentence after pleading guilty to the bribery conspiracy, while his son is serving a 14-month sentence failing to report the plot. Scruggs' associates Balducci and Patterson also pleaded guilty in the high-profile case. They are awaiting sentencing.

Biden, who has served in the U.S. Senate for more than three decades and is the powerful chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, is considered one of the least wealthy members in the upper chamber.

Aside from a $112,000 book advance, Biden reported little income in 2007 beyond his $165,000 Senate salary. His wife Jill made $20,500 by teaching at Widener University in Chester, Pa., according to finance disclosures.

Biden's son, Joseph "Beau" Biden III, is the Democratic attorney general of Delaware.

Dickie Scruggs, who is a brother-in-law of former Republican Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi, made millions by representing shipyard workers in asbestos cases. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he grouped together a handful of law firms to create the Scruggs Katrina Group.

The group represented insurance policyholders who believed their insurance companies were misrepresenting the amount of damage done to their properties by wind (covered by the policy) and water (covered by a federal program).

More than 600 cases were settled early in 2007, earning the Scruggs Katrina Group $26.5 million in attorneys fees.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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