US law firms inject huge sums into presidential campaigns

Law firms dominate the corporate donor list; Skadden Arps gives $57,000 to the Democrats

US law firms have emerged as the largest contributors behind Democratic presidential contenders, as the race to knock George W Bush out of the White House hots up.

While Goldman Sachs was the largest contributor overall, giving $78,750 (£49,000), law firms dominated the lineup of the 25 largest donors supporting the 10 Democratic hopefuls attempting to challenge Bush in the 2004 election.

The largest legal contributor emerged as Texas firm Baron & Budd, which from 1 January to 31 March 2003 contributed $64,250 (£40,000) to Senator John Edwards, himself a former personal injury lawyer.

According to the Center of Responsive Politics, $36,000 (£22,400) of that was donated to Edwards on 24 January alone. Coincidentally, Fred Baron, a partner at the firm, was picked by Edwards as a co-chairman of his national fundraising campaign.

Los Angeles firm Girardi & Keese was the third-largest donor to the Edwards campaign with $62,000 (£38,600).

Elsewhere on the list, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom emerged as the top donor to Senator John Kerry, giving $53,400 (£33,200) of its overall contribution of $56,900 (£35,400) to the Democrats during the quarter.

The Senator for Massachusetts, Kerry is a decorated former Vietnam veteran who then became a passionate opponent of the war.