April 11, 2012 4:53 PM

A Look at the Law Firms That Gave to Rick Santorum’s Presidential Campaign

Posted by Brian Baxter

Rick Santorum, a former associate at a predecessor firm of KL Gates, officially ended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday.

Like most candidates for higher public office, the former senator from Pennsylvania counted on the support of lawyers from Am Law 200 firms in his unsuccessful quest to beat Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential primaries.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics’s OpenSecrets Web site, lawyers and law firms represented the fifth-largest group of contributors to Santorum’s campaign, donating $162,950 this election cycle. Most attorneys who contribute to political campaigns either do so on an individual basis or through political action committees run by their firms.

Federal Election Commission (FEC) records filed last month show that Santorum’s presidential campaign had nearly $1.5 million in cash on hand in early February, and took in more than $9 million in contributions over the next month.

Among the largest donors to Santorum’s campaign were lawyers and employees from Brooks Cushman, a Southfield, Michigan–based IP firm, which gave a total of $11,200, and Kirkland Ellis, which gave $7,500, according to OpenSecrets.

Other large contributors in The Am Law 200 through February 29 were Baker Botts ($2,500), Reed Smith ($1,500), Munger, Tolles  Olson ($1,000), and Buchanan Ingersoll Rooney ($600), according to FEC records. Both Reed Smith and Buchanan Ingersoll are based in Pittsburgh, the second-largest city in Pennsylvania, where Santorum cut his political teeth. (OpenSecrets notes that while Pennsylvania was the state most financially friendly to its former senator, Texas, Florida, and California also saw donors contribute heavily to Santorum.)

Other top Am Law 200 donors to Santorum include Snell Wilmer ($500), McGuireWoods ($500), Greenberg Traurig ($500), Armstrong Teasdale ($500), Sidley Austin ($299.70), Duane Morris ($250), Cooley ($200), Stinson Morrison Hecker ($200), Bracewell Giuliani ($151.45), Jackson Walker ($100), Brown Rudnick ($100), and KL Gates ($100), according to FEC filings by the candidate’s campaign.

The meager contributions from KL Gates represent a drop-off from previous election cycles. Santorum began his legal career at predecessor firm Kirkpatrick Lockhart in the late 1980s after graduating from the Dickinson School of Law (which merged with Penn State University in 2000).

OpenSecrets shows that KL Gates was among the top donors to Santorum’s various political campaigns between 1989 and 2012 with $137,954 in total contributions ($98,054 of that sum was from individuals, with the remaining $39,900 from PACs). Other leading legal donors during that time frame were Blank Rome ($192,950), Buchanan Ingersoll ($85,134), and Reed Smith ($65,250).

Santorum also counted on a sizable number of legal contributions to his current campaign from non–Am Law 200 firms.

Some of the largest donors in that category include former Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld-partner-turned-Texas-lobbyist Jack Gullahorn ($1,000), Weatherford, Texas–based Eggleston Flowers King ($1,000), Asheville, North Carolina’s The Van Winkle Law Firm ($1,000), Fort Pierce, Florida–based solo practitioner James Regan ($1,000), and the Law Office of John L. Wollman ($1,000) in Westlake Village, California, according to FEC filings.

And then there are the Super PACs, with pro-Santorum entities the Red, White Blue Fund and Leaders for Families now finding themselves without a presidential candidate to support. (Some top Santorum backers have publicly stated they could throw their big bucks behind Romney.)

OpenSecrets shows that Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen Katz litigation partner George Conway III contributed $7,500 to the Red, White Blue Fund on February 13, the same date that Jeffrey Johnston of Midland, Texas–based Johnston Associates kicked in $5,000. Leaders for Families did not have any readily identifiable legal contributors, although noted conservative lawyer James Bopp, Jr., is listed as the organization’s custodian of records.

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