New Yorkers want to be a part of Frosh’s AG campaign

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who praised Maryland state Sen. Brian E. Frosh last month for shepherding gun-control legislation through the Senate in 2013, put his money where his mouth was.

The billionaire Bloomberg donated $4,000 to Frosh’s campaign for Maryland attorney general, according to the senator’s most recent campaign disclosure form.

Brian E. Frosh

In this undated file photo, Maryland state Sen. Brian E. Frosh stands in the Miller Senate Office Building in Annapolis. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz, file)

And Bloomberg is not the only New Yorker with a fondness for Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat.

New York lawyer David Boies, who famously represented Al Gore in his unsuccessful 2000 Florida recount battle with George W. Bush, has also given $4,000. Boies’ law partner Jonathan Schiller also donated $4,000.

Frosh, 67, said he has no master plan to court New York donors, adding he has known Schiller since they were Hebrew-school classmates at Temple Sinai in Washington in the 1950s.  They also attended Columbia Law School together in the 1960s.

Frosh added that Schiller introduced him to Boies within the past year.

“I am proud of their support,” the senator said.

Frosh is running for the Democratic nomination for attorney general against Dels. Jon Cardin, of Baltimore County; Bill Frick, of Montgomery County; and Aisha Braveboy, of Prince George’s County.  No Republican has joined the race.

Crime doesn’t pay but it might not harm your reelection chances

News came out Thursday that U.S. Rep.  Trey Radel, R-Fla., will be returning to Capitol Hill next week after a leave of absence. Radel, you may remember, pleaded guilty in November for possession of cocaine and is under investigation from by the House Ethics Committee for his drug use.

Trey Radel

Rep. Trey Radel

With Radel’s reelection prospects uncertain, potential challengers are weighing their options and opposition money begins to flow into southwest Florida.

Could Radel win reelection, though? It wouldn’t be the first time a politician in trouble with the law was kept in office. (A certain politician in Toronto will be testing this theory in October, too.) Which brings us to this gem of a footnote brought to my attention by my former TDR colleague, Andy Marso, on Twitter.

It concerns an appeal by Percy Z. Giles, a longtime Chicago alderman who was sentenced to more than three years in jail in 2001 for racketeering and mail fraud, among other charges.

Giles won a special election for his seat in 1986 and won four-year terms in 1987, 1991, 1995 and 1999, according to an opinion by 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals written by the late Judge Terence T. Evans. Giles prevailed in the ’99 election “despite the fact he was under the dark cloud of the indictment in this case,” Evans wrote, prompting the judge to include the following footnote:

In the old days, an indictment charging 13 felonies would have been the kiss of death for a politician. Apparently that is no longer the case.

The appellate court upheld Giles’ conviction.

(Evans, it should also be noted, was no stranger to a good footnote.)

Former attorneys general snub one of their own, back Brown

The Maryland Office of the Attorney General has always been led by men but it is apparently not a solid fraternity.

Former Attorneys General J. Joseph Curran Jr. and Stephen H. Sachs have snubbed current AG Douglas F. Gansler and endorsed his opponent Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown in the race for the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

“Anthony Brown has been an effective lieutenant governor and I know he’ll make an exceptional governor for all Marylanders,” Curran said in a statement the Brown campaign emailed Thursday.

Gansler

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler

“With a long record of serving Maryland’s hard-working families and delivering real results, Anthony Brown is by far the best candidate for governor in 2014 and I’ll be working hard to make sure he’s elected,” Sachs said in the same statement.

Bob Wheelock, a spokesman for Gansler, said the endorsements are “no surprise to us.”‘

Sachs mentored Brown in the 1990s at what is now the WilmerHale law firm; Curran is the father-in-law of Gov. Martin O’Malley, under whom Brown serves and who has endorsed Brown for governor, Wheelock said.

“It would be great if they would support us but we understand,” Wheelock added.

Law blog roundup

ruth bader-ginsburgWelcome to the first Monday in November, which makes tomorrow, well, you know the rest. Here now some news items to get your week started.

– What ever happened to that lawyer who argued for the respondent in Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld?

– What is your answer to one of the great questions of our time?

– It’s never too early to have a legal battle over ballots.

– “Girls Gone Wild” case reaches the Georgia Supreme Court.

Everything you wanted to know about emergency election litigation but were afraid to ask

When you think about election season,  you often think about debates, political ads — and, of course, litigation.

Enter the Federal Judicial Center, the research and educational agency of the federal judiciary. It published 80 case studies on emergency election litigation in federal courts and interviewed several dozen federal judges. Among the topics covered: litigation relating to registering voters, absentee and early voting, campaign activities, and poll hours.

One of the white papers, Keeping Polls Open Because of Weather, seems particularly timely. The weather in Ohio was nasty when the state’s presidential primary was held in March 2008 and a number of locations were experiencing ballot shortages. So then-Sen. Barack Obama sued to keep the polls open until 9 p.m., an extra hour-and-a-half, in three counties.

A judge granted the request with respect to polling places in Cuyahoga County (which includes Cleveland). All votes received after 7:30 p.m. (the normal closing time) were to be put aside as provisional ballots. The report, however, noted that some polls covered by the order had already closed when they received the order and some did not reopen.

Raskin rips Romney, Ryan and Robert (Bork)

Maryland state Sen. Jamin B. “Jamie” Raskin, D-Montgomery, wants voters heading to the polls to remember that the president has the authority to make appointments to the Supreme Court and lower federal courts — and that Robert Bork is among the legal advisers to the Republican ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

Raskin, an ardent supporter of President Barack Obama, warned in Wednesday’s Huffington Post that a “Romney-Ryan-Bork court would lead to the uncorking of bottles of champagne throughout the boardrooms of America’s largest and most right-wing corporations.”

Romney appointees to the federal courts would lead to “an acceleration of all of the worst trends already ravaging the prospects of justice for ‘natural persons’ in America, including the destruction of what is left of campaign finance and disclosure laws as corporations assume all the political free speech rights of the people, a dramatic change ushered in by Citizens United in 2010,” Raskin added on the post’s Politics blog.

Raskin has been quite prolific recently, having written an op-ed piece in the New York Times last week calling for a constitutional amendment to undo Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, in which the Supreme Court ruled that “the government may regulate corporate political speech through disclaimer and disclosure requirements, but it may not suppress that speech altogether” under the First Amendment.

But Raskin, a widely respected constitutional law professor at American University, might need to brush up on his history.

In the Huffington Post piece he referred to Bork as as “the right-wing polemicist and former Bush Supreme Court nominee so extreme that he was rejected by a bipartisan coalition of Senators in 1987.”

“I think somebody must have changed that,” Raskin said of the error. “I very well know that Ronald Reagan is the one who made that mistake.”

In-House Interrogatory

Asked: Our weekly question to the In-House community

The general counsel at the National Labor Relations Board is under fire this week.

General counsel Lafe Solomon participated in talks on the board about Wal-Mart’s social media policy and its legality. The catch? Solomon also held stock in Wal-Mart at the time.

Though Solomon owned only about $18,000 in Wal-Mart stock, the agency’s inspector general is investigating the matter at the urging of Republican members of Congress.

“As a general counsel and career attorney, Mr. Solomon should know federal statute well enough to know when to recuse himself from a possible conflict of interest between his own finances and his work,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wrote in a news release.

Though Solomon sold the stock at the end of February, he participated in meetings on the Wal-Mart issue in January. Solomon’s defense argues that he received no financial benefit from these dealings.

So, here’s our question for you:

What action should the NLRB take against Solomon? How would your company deal with a situation in which a general counsel had a financial conflict of interest?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Continue reading

Law blog roundup

Welcome to Monday and the start of the political convention season. Here are some things you probably will not hear during the next several weeks:

Mr. Romney will raise taxes and so will I. He won’t tell you; I just did.

I would rather have Roosevelt in a wheelchair than Romney on a horse.

Now for some news items before the conventions are called to order:

– Motorcycle-windshield inventor revs up constitutional challenge to patent law.

– Man wrongly convicted of rape wins release in what is becoming a Texas trend.

– Foreclosure-mediation proposal takes the spirit out of mortgage lenders in St. Louis.

– Is there a constitutional right to track down Justin Bieber for a photo?

D.C. lawyer (chicken) dances around political debate

When it comes to defending same-sex marriage, one Washington, D.C., lawyer is no chicken.

Attorney Ted Frank, who also blogs, has come up with a way to support same-sex marriage and consume controversial Chick-fil-A chicken.

The country has been abuzz about the Georgia-based fast-food chain in the past few weeks after its president, Dan Cathy, told a Baptist newspaper in an interview that he only supports marriage between a man and a woman.

Since then, each side of the political spectrum has jumped into the issue. Opponents of same-sex marriage declared a “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” and encouraged those supporting Cathy’s views to head to their nearest Chick-fil-A and order a chicken sandwich and waffle fries. Those in favor of same-sex marriage responded with Chick-fil-A “Kiss-Off” day, where same-sex couples smooched outside chicken chains across the country.

Frank has found himself, like many Americans, facing a conundrum: he loves Chick-fil-A food, but dislikes the company’s stance against same-sex marriage. So Frank decided to take a stand — all for the love of chicken and same-sex marriage.

Frank started the website, Chicken Offsets, where people can donate every time they eat at Chick-fil-A. The money will then go to a number of LGBT nonprofits. Every $1 donated equals an offset of one chicken sandwich, and $6 is worth 10 chicken sandwich offsets, according to the website.

As Frank explains on the website:

Chick-fil-A sells $4,100,000,000 of chicken a year and donates about 0.04% of that to Christian organizations that are only anti-gay in a collateral sense. Buying a chicken offset does far more for gay rights than boycotting the chain because someone asked a business executive so religiously Christian that he insists that the stores be closed on Sunday what he thought about gay marriage and people are pretending to be surprised by the answer.

At least 90 percent of the money donated goes to the It Gets Better Project, which focuses on helping LGBT teens, and The Williams Institute, a think tank at the UCLA School of Law that researches gender identity and sexual orientation law. Only a small amount of money is kept by the website for operating expenses.

Frank launched the website Saturday night and reportedly had raised $100 by late Monday.

So now, thanks to Frank,  gay rights supporters hankering for a spicy chicken sandwich bathed in signature Chick-fil-A Sauce can consume the 630-calorie meal guilt-free. Well, morally, anyways.

Baltimore law office rolls out red carpet for ‘Veep’

The local law world is going Hollywood this week.

The Baltimore office of DLA Piper was featured in the season premiere of the new HBO show, “Veep,” which premiered Sunday night. The show stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus, best known as Elaine on “Seinfeld”, as the vice president of the United States.

The comedy follows Louis-Dreyfus’s character, Selina Meyer, and her staff as they navigate the inroads of Washington, D.C. Meyer spends the pilot episode trying to assert herself in her new role. There are many bumps along the way for Meyer as she tries to carve out a place as second-in-command.

She organizes a meeting to push for green initiatives, which no one attends. She is forced into making a speech at a fundraiser in place of the president, during which she makes a series of bad jokes and a political gaffe. Throughout the episode, she repeatedly asks her secretary if the president has called, to which the answer is always “No.”

In one scene, Meyer goes to a senator’s office to lobby for a green initiative she is working on to replace plastic forks in government buildings with ones made of cornstarch. The scene was filmed at DLA Piper, whose offices are at The Marbury Building, 6225 Smith Ave.

About 100 members of the cast and crew showed up to film for the day; a wing on the second floor of the law offices was transformed to look like a fictional Nevada senator’s suite.

The cast and crew only filmed at the law offices for a day. When filming went late into the night, the crew had to shine lights into the office from outside.

The show also filmed in DLA Piper’s hallway as Meyer and her staff are leaving. The same hallway was used for a scene in the 2005 movie, “Syriana,” starring George Clooney.