In today’s Times Union, Chris Bragg highlights the political giving of several high-profile donors, including the New York State Trial Lawyers Association.
Another group, LAWPAC, the political action committee of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, seems to give absent any the ideological factors surrounding trial lawyers and tort reform that exist in other parts of the country.
While Democrats and the trial lawyers lobby are often viewed as joined at the hip, LAWPAC is a major donor to Senate Republicans in New York, giving $60,000 to the Senate GOP’s campaign arm so far this year. That’s more than the $27,000 gifted to the Senate Democrats by the group. “It’s a trial lawyers’ issue — it’s not a party issue in New York,” said Tom Stebbins, executive director of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York. “They put money into everyone’s account.”
After former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who served as of counsel at a prominent Manhattan personal injury law firm, stepped down from the post amid corruption charges in January, proponents of repealing the state’s antiquated scaffold law were newly optimistic. But the issue gained little traction during the past legislative session, and Senate Republicans, who gained a clear majority in the chamber last fall, did not pass a bill favored by reform advocates out of the Judiciary Committee.
A spokesman for the trial lawyers declined comment on their political giving.