Swanson: trial lawyers fund Democrats

The head of the Oklahoma Republican Senatorial Committee, Randy Swanson, said today that trial lawyers "are almost singularly funding key Democrat campaigns."

And, he charged, some of them are trying to do that while hiding their occupations.

Swanson said Senator Nancy Riley of Tulsa and candidates Robert Murphy of Stillwater and Diane Drum of Norman have received over 70% of their financial support from lawyers outside of their districts.

“Without the largesse of big-time lawyers who have a vested interest in seeing Republicans defeated at the polls, candidates like Nancy Riley, Robert Murphy and Diane Drum would barely have enough campaign money to buy that high-priced gasoline for which Riley is so grateful,” said Swanson, executive director of the GOP committee.

“The very lawyers who have financed Brad Henry’s campaigns, resulting in his consistent vetoes of lawsuit reform legislation, are now funding Democrat Senate candidates across the state and Democrat campaign committees.

“In the case of Nancy Riley, their investment is already paying dividends, due to the fact that she has flip-flopped numerous times on the important tort reform legislation we need to keep our business climate and medical services thriving,” Swanson said. “She was for it before she was against it.”
An analysis of Ethics reports over the past three reporting periods (4th quarter 2007, 1st & 2nd quarters 2008) indicate the following startling statistics, he said:

Senator Nancy Riley of Tulsa has raised $125,065 in individual, reportable (over $50) contributions. Of that figure, $85,425 has been raised from trial lawyers. Add the $5,400 her campaign has raised from lobbyists and Democrat legislators, such special interests account for 72.6% of Riley’s financial support.

Candidate Robert Murphy of Stillwater, the former judge, only recently announced his candidacy, and has filed one Ethics report. In that report, Murphy reports raising $51,600 from individuals, of which $35,900 – 69.6% — has come from lawyers, most from outside of Stillwater or Payne County.

Candidate Diane Drum of Norman has raised $74,485 from individuals of which $56,115 has come from lawyers, most of whom live outside Norman and Cleveland County, accounting for 75.3% of her financial receipts.

"In a tactic indicative of haphazard campaign reporting or intentional misrepresentation, many lawyers list their occupations on these reports as Self Employed, Consultant, or some other innocuous title," Swanson’s news release said. "However, a simple online search of their names belies their true occupations, and exposes the magnitude of the support from this special interest group enjoyed by Democrats."

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Swanson said. “A vast majority of the lawyers who have contributed to these and other Democrat Senate candidates have not yet given the legal maximum amount, so there are hundreds of thousands of dollars still on the table for their cause.

“With almost three of every four dollars in Democrat campaigns coming from the Democrat Party’s most affluent and reliable special interest group, the Trial Bar is making its last, bold stand to maintain its stranglehold on the Capitol, and the State Senate is their final beachhead. They won’t go down without a fight. Oklahoma voters need to be aware of who controls the Democrats in the Senate, and to whom they are beholden."

About the Author:
Mike McCarville has covered Oklahoma politics and government since he became State Capitol Correspondent for The Tulsa Tribune in 1966. Since, he has been a governor’s press secretary, investigative reporter, television station news executive, radio station program director and talk show host, and political consultant. In 1980, he founded The McCarville Report and it is the nation’s longest-running state political publication. In its online version, it has been called "The best political blog" by Dr. Keith Gaddie, pollster and pundit and "Oklahoma’s venerable McCarville Report" by The Arkansas Times.  McCarville, also a real estate investor and commentator for the National Rifle Association on NRANews.com and Sirius Satellite Radio, is a regular contributor to Tulsa Today.