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Obama nominates McConnell to federal bench

By John O'Brien | Mar 11, 2010



WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - President Barack Obama has nominated a Rhode Island plaintiffs lawyer who gave him more than $4,000 in campaign contributions for a federal judgeship.

Jack McConnell, of Motley Rice's Providence office, also gave more than $25,000 to the Rhode Island senators who recommended him to Obama. His nomination now goes to the U.S. Senate, where he has donated to 11 more senators.

Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed nominated McConnell almost a year ago.

"Jack McConnell is a brilliant legal mind and an outstanding community leader. We believe he possesses the experience, intellect, and temperament to be a great judge on the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island," a statement released by the senators said.

"He has gotten strong support from both sides of the aisle in Rhode Island and we hope his confirmation will proceed smoothly."

All totaled, McConnell and his wife Sarah have given $46,500 to current Democratic senators this century, not counting donations to national party organizations that helped Democrats get elected to federal positions.

McConnell represented the State of Rhode Island in unsuccessful litigation against the former manufacturers of lead paint. Whitehouse, then the attorney general, hired the firm to file suit in 1999.

McConnell was also a member of the litigation team that brought suit against tobacco companies on behalf of states, resulting in the $246-billion, 46-state Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement of 1998.

After Whitehouse left the Attorney General's Office, the McConnells pumped $12,600 into his campaign fund. Whitehouse took office in 2007.

Since 2001, the McConnels have given Reed $13,200, including $8,800 for his 2008 re-election campaign.

Outside of Rhode Island, the McConnells have supported 11 other senators since 2000. They are:

-Minnesota's Al Franken, who received $1,000 for the Franken Recount Fund in 2008;

-New Mexico's Tom Udall, to whom the McConnells gave $3,000;

-Washington's Maria Cantwell, to whom the McConnells gave $4,200;

-Connecticut's Chris Dodd, to whom the McConnells gave $1,000;

-Pennsylvania's Bob Casey, to whom the McConnells gave $500;

-Florida's Bill Nelson, to whom the McConnells gave $3,000;

-Washington's Patty Murray, to whom the McConnells gave $2,000;

-Nevada's Harry Reid, to whom the McConnells gave $1,000;

-Indiana's Evan Bayh, to whom the McConnells gave $1,000;

-New York's Chuck Schumer, to whom the McConnells gave $1,000; and

-Michigan's Debbie Stabenow, to whom the McConnells gave $3,000.

Sarah McConnell also gave $10,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2008.

Among members of the Obama administration, the McConnells gave $12,000 to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in 2004 for his Senate campaign, as well as $8,000 to Chief of Staff and former Congressman Rahm Emanuel in 2003.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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