We’ve long known of the political spending by the the plaintiff’s bar, the assignment of some of the millions of dollars it pulls in from excessive litigation. Through generous campaign donations, trial lawyers gain access and favorable legislation. (The role of politically generous trial lawyers in the current debate over electronic surveillance and telecom liability warrants much more attention.)
But there’s another, less prominent way the plaintiff’s bar spends its litigation lucre in creating a political system favorable to its legal abuses — a non-profit foundation that fostered and flattered academics, judges and other influential figures. The Examiner newspaper today finishes a three-day, multipart series on the Institute for Law and Economic Policy (ILEP), a tax-exempt foundation overseen by attorneys from the Milberg Weiss law firm. The series, a follow-up to Lawyers Gone Wild, is called
The Examiner’s editorial today does a good job of summarizing the series and important issues it raises:
The foundation used law professors to construct a façade of academic respectability even as the foundation helped Milberg Weiss cultivate key federal and state judges and federal securities enforcement officials. Three things stand out here: ILEP principals refuse to discuss its funding or operations; the foundation’s federal tax returns, which the IRS designed to help the public evaluate such exempt groups, are notably uninformative, and the few officials who would talk professed a less-than-credible ignorance about Milberg Weiss’s links to ILEP. The question must be asked: Are these people hiding something?
At stake here are the integrity and credibility of the U.S. justice system. Surely if Congress can hold hearings on whether Roger Clemens used steroids, they can also get answers to far more important questions like these: Who financed ILEP besides Lerach, a $50,000 contributor? Why were judges on the Southern District of New York of such interest to ILEP? Why did so many SEC commissioners and senior staff attend ILEP events year after year? Why were so many cases with Milberg Weiss as counsel assigned to judges who attended ILEP events? It’s time somebody is required to give some answers.
For links to the entire series, please click here.
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