Sunshine remains the best disinfectant when it comes to cleaning up politics and we seem to be seeing another example of that in the Missouri Senate race. Just this weekend we joined in with numerous media outlets talking about some large campaign contributions which Democrat Jason Kander took from a law firm in Boston. Plenty of Democrats stop at the offices of the Thornton law firm to pick up checks, but the firm was in the habit of returning those donations to their partners in the form of a “bonus” (which the firm is now saying wasn’t a bonus at all).
Having been revealed as one of the participants in this scheme, Kander was forced to whip out the check book this week and cough up the funds. (Kansas City Star)
Missouri Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jason Kander’s campaign said Monday it would write a $25,000 check to the U.S. Treasury after reports that a law firm it received contributions from handed out bonuses that may have illegally obscured the source of those donations.
Kander received $25,000 from nine members of the Thornton law firm on May 14, 2015, all on the same day. Data compiled by the Center for Responsive politics shows contributions from Thornton employees represented the fourth largest group of contributors to Kander’s run for the Senate.
Over the weekend, a story in The Boston Globe detailed a pattern at the Thornton firm of bonuses given to its lawyers timed with political contributions made to a number of prominent Democrats and Democratic campaign committees.
We already saw other Democrats returning the money, including Russ Feingold and Governor Maggie Hassan. Why it took Kander this long may remain a mystery, but the reason for the firm’s interest in him is becoming more clear. As this latest chapter in the story reveals, the Thornton law firm has been making a fine living for some time seeking clients for a class action lawsuit representing sufferers of mesothelioma, contracted from exposure to asbestos.
The firm was apparently unhappy when the government, under George W. Bush among others, began working to get these victims signed up for a national trust fund providing them with compensation. That took money out of the pockets of the law firm. By what I’m sure is another coincidence, Kander received another $117,000 from employees of Simmons Hanly Conroy. It’s a different law firm which specializes in, wait for it… mesothelioma cases.
What has Kander promised these firms in exchange for such generous donations? This story gets more interesting by the day.