Donations to presidential candidates reach $17m

US law firms are fast emerging as prolific political contributors after donating a staggering $17m (£9.3m) to the country’s 2004 presidential hopefuls.

Over the first quarter of the year, from January to March, law firms and individual lawyers have almost doubled political funding compared with the last race for the White House, when George W Bush and Al Gore received $11.5m (£6.3m) from the legal community.

President Bush is outstripping Democratic presidential favourite Senator John Kerry in law firm donations. Over the three-month period, lawyers and law firms gave $8.8m (£4.8m) to the Bush campaign coffers, while Kerry has gathered $7.9m (£4.3m).

However, in terms of volume of donators, Kerry beats Bush, with nine of the Democrats’ top 20 donators hailing from the legal profession. Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, recently knocked off the number one spot of Kerry’s leading contributors by the University of California, has given $159,875 (£87,300). Other six-figure donations come from Piper Rudnick and Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi, which gave $105,750 (£57,700) and $103,750 (£56,600) respectively.

According to the Legal Times, Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo, which gave $94,100 (£51,400) to Kerry’s campaign, counts the Senator’s younger brother, Cameron, as a partner.

While Bush’s top 20 contributors contain fewer law firms (just three), their donations are larger than even those of Skadden Arps.
Vinson & Elkins, the Houston firm that once counted disgraced energy trader Enron as a client, gave $166,500 (£90,900). Bush also received $209,400 (£114,300) from Blank Rome and $162,135 (£88,200) from Texas firm Haynes Boone.

Law firm donations to US presidential campaigns 2004
Firm $ (£)
Senator John Kerry (Democrat)
Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom 159,875 (87,300)
Piper Rudnick 105,750 (57,700)
Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi 103,750 (56,600)
Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo 94,100 (51,400)
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld 84,050 (45,900)
Latham & Watkins 71,425 (39,000)
Hale and Dorr 66,187 (36,100)
Arnold & Porter 59,550 (32,500)
Manatt Phelps & Phillips 59,050 (32,200)
President George W Bush (Republican)
Blank Rome 209,400 (114,300)
Vinson & Elkins 166,500 (90,900
Haynes Boone 162,135 (88,200)
Source: The Center for Responsive Politics, updated 21 May 2004