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Lawyered Up

By Megan Kinneyn | Oct. 2, 2007

Law Office Management

Oct. 2, 2007

Lawyered Up

No one does political fund-raising better than lawyers. Here are 18 California attorneys currently advising and raising funds for the leading presidential candidates.

      Money, they say, is the mother's milk of politics. But when it comes to fund-raising, it's the lawyers who make it flow. In fact, no other group of professionals consistently provides more cash to campaigns than attorneys do, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. "Lawyers are essentially called upon to deliver their extensive networks," says the center's executive director, Sheila Krumholz.
      A lot of lawyers also serve as strategists and trusted confidants. So, who are the behind-the-scenes players in California? Here's a sampling of the lawyers who this fall are making the case for six leading presidential contenders-five of whom are themselves law school grads.
      Ralph Baxter
      Chair and CEO of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in San Francisco
      Baxter has been busy introducing Senator Clinton to his vast network in the San Francisco Bay Area, in his home state of West Virginia, and nationwide.
      John Emerson
      President of personal investment management for Capital Guardian Trust Co. in Los Angeles
      In his autobiography, Bill Clinton refers to Emerson as his "Secretary of California." Now, for Senator Clinton, Emerson has raised more than $250,000.
      Martha Whetstone
      Executive director of the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito
      An Arkansas native and a friend of the Clintons since the '70s, Whetstone served in President Clinton's administration and was on staff during his two campaigns. Now she's fund-raising, cultivating endorsers, and making appearances on the senator's behalf.
      Benjamin Bunn
      Partner at Hulburt & Bunn in San Diego
      When the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego gave its Consumer Advocate Award to Senator Edwards in 2002, Bunn was the organization's incoming president. Now he's raising Edwards's profile in the labor community.
      Joseph Cotchett
      Partner at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy in Burlingame and Los Angeles
      Cotchett, who assisted Edwards in his first Senate run in North Carolina more than ten years ago, is now helping devise Edwards's Northern California campaign strategy.
      C. Brooks Cutter
      Partner at Kershaw Cutter & Ratinoff in Sacramento
      A member of the former senator's foreign policy committee, Cutter has been hosting fund-raising events at his home and organizing Edwards's Northern California supporters.
      Jeff Bleich
      Partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson in San Francisco
      Praised by Senator Obama for his "Bob Newhart deadpan thing" when introducing the candidate at various events, Bleich is one of Obama's largest single California fund-raisers.
      Michael A. Lawson
      Partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Los AngelesLawson is boosting Obama in Los Angeles's African American community; for example, he got the senator to address the First A.M.E Church in April on the anniversary of the 1992 Rodney King riot.
      Tony West
      Partner at Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco
      West, a brother-in-law of San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, has campaigned for five previous presidential candidates. This time around he threw his support to Obama, becoming cochair of the senator's California finance committee.
      Charles H. Bell Jr.
      Partner at Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk in Sacramento
      Bell, who cochaired both of President George W. Bush's campaigns in California, is now general counsel of the California Republican Party and national co-vice chair of Lawyers for Rudy Giuliani.
      Robert C. Bonner
      Partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
      As the first-ever commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Bonner is one of Giuliani's go-to guys on homeland security.
      Daniel B. Rodriguez
      Law professor at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law
      A former dean of the University of San Diego School of Law, this "lifelong Californian" sits on Giuliani's justice advisory committee.
      Steve Merksamer
      Partner at Nielsen, Merksamer, Parrinello, Mueller & Naylor in Sacramento
      Ever since he was a chair of Youth for Reagan, Merksamer has been in politics, including as chief of staff for Gov. George Deukmejian, and senior advisor to Senator Robert Dole.
      Rod Pacheco
      Riverside County district attorney in Riverside
      From the heart of California's Republican territory-58 percent of Riverside County voted for George Bush in 2004-Pacheco is advising McCain on "third rail" California issues such as immigration.
      Gerald L. Parsky
      Chairman of Aurora Capital Group in Los Angeles
      Parsky hasn't practiced law since leaving Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in the 1990s, but he has worked for or advised each of the past five Republican presidents.
      Douglas W. Kmiec
      Law professor at Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu
      An assistant attorney general for both President Reagan and President George H. W. Bush, this legal scholar is cochairing the Romney for President Advisory Committee on the Constitution and the Courts.
      Mark S. Lee
      Partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips in Los Angeles
      Lee's connections as an IP lawyer-he's provided counsel on publicity and trademark rights for Tiger Woods, Elvis Presley, Groucho Marx, and others-are an asset for Romney's campaign coffers.
      Robert C. O'Brien
      Partner at Arent Fox in Los Angeles
      A former legal officer for the U.N. Security Council and counsel for the Republican National Committee, O'Brien is advising the Romney campaign on foreign policy and international law issues.

Megan Kinneyn

Daily Journal Staff Writer

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