7 Democrat Presidential Candidates Working With Perkins Coie
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Almost a third of the Democratic presidential field has retained Perkins Coie for legal services, sending nearly two-thirds of a million dollars to the firm in the second quarter. Under Marc Elias, chairman of the firm's political law practice, Perkins Coie has taken over legal business for most of the Democratic Party's top committees and campaigns and is always a good bet to be involved in a recount or voting-rights litigation in which Democrats have a stake in the outcome.
But little illustrates Perkins Coie's size and influence in Democratic politics than the fact that these campaigns — including those of two of the five first-tier candidates in Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren — are all eager to retain the firm's resources despite being locked in competition with each other. Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, and Bernie Sanders, among others, used different law firms in the second quarter.
In 2016 Elias was advising both the Clinton campaign and the DNC when they contracted with Fusion GPS to produce opposition research on Trump. Rather than pay Fusion GPS for the work, Elias had them pay Perkins Coie, which then passed the funds to Fusion. Fusion was not a subcontractor or related to Perkins Coie, and Perkins Coie performed no work on the dossier. By using Perkins Coie to pass through the funds, Clinton and the DNC kept Fusion GPS off their public FEC reports. While Fusion's research was perfectly legal, publicly reporting them would make it clear Clinton and the DNC were looking for dirt on Trump.
Three staff members from Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign were convicted of filing false FEC reports for a similar arrangement. Payments to an Iowa state senator were routed through an audio-visual company so his name would not appear on reports. While the payments were legal, they were politically problematic. Federal courts ruled a presidential campaign can't use pass-through companies to hide the end source of payments.