John Edwards launched his slight public career -- one Senate term, two presidential candidacies -- with the money and reputation he made as a trial lawyer. Today he is the candidate of a small fraction of the electorate but a sizable portion of America's trial lawyers. Edwards says Washington is "corrupt." [emphasis mine]Mr. Will goes on to examine that last statement, and finds a case of the kettle calling the pot black.
Within Edwards' lucrative trial bar constituency, there has been a flurry of criminal indictments. Their target has been what Fortune magazine calls the law firm of Hubris Hypocrisy and Greed. (See Peter Elkind's jaw-dropping report in the issue of Nov. 13, 2006.) The real name of the nation's foremost securities class-action firm is Milberg Weiss.Milberg Weiss is a lawyer whose name and Democratic Party connections you should remember next time you enter the voting booth.
It has been indicted as a "racketeering enterprise" that obstructed justice and committed perjury, bribery and fraud while collecting about $250 million in fees from about 250 cases using paid plaintiffs, which is illegal. Several of the firm's members, past and present, also have been indicted.According to George Will, Mel Weiss, who is going to trial, and his former partner, Bill Lerach, who has pleaded guilty to unspecified crimes,
...each pocketed -- it would be strange to say they earned -- more than $100 million in the 1990s. The firm itself has been charged with paying $11.4 million to three serial plaintiffs who testified in 180 cases over 25 years, claiming to have been repeatedly defrauded.by paying plaintiffs for testimony.
Now we have one partner pleading guilty, and one partner in the same law firm indited for alleged crimes. Here is the connection to the John Edwards Campaign.
Until Lerach pleaded guilty he was a fundraiser for Edwards, for whom he collected $64,000 from lawyers in the firm he founded after he had a falling out with Weiss.As to the connection to the Democratic Party, Consider this from the Will article.
Lerach was a Lincoln Bedroom guest in President Bill Clinton's White House. Shortly after Lerach attended a White House dinner, Clinton vetoed legislation that would have restricted class-action lawsuits. Lerach gave $100,000 to Clinton's presidential library.And this.
Milberg Weiss turned that narrative into gold, which it shared with Democrats. Since 1980, the firm's partners have given more than $7 million to Democratic candidates, and an additional $500,000 to help build the Democratic National Committee's new headquarters.Remember this article when you hear about Democrats talking about Trial Lawyers being, as George Will writes,
White Knights protecting little people. [emphasis mine]