Lawyers favor Biden in campaign donations, including Trump's re-election firm

Oct 21 (Reuters) - Lawyers at Jones Day, a firm that has earned millions of dollars as outside counsel to U.S. President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, have donated nearly $90,000 to his Democratic rival Joe Biden’s campaign since last year compared to $50 to Trump’s campaign, according to Federal Election Commission data.

A Reuters analysis of Federal Election Commission records showed a wide gulf between individual lawyer donations to the two presidential candidates, with nearly $29 million going to Biden’s campaign and just under $1.75 million going to Trump’s campaign between Jan. 1, 2019, and Aug. 31 of this year.

Lawyers at several other law firms representing Trump or his campaign heavily favored Biden in campaign donations.

Lawyers from Biden’s campaign outside counsel, the firm Covington & Burling, donated $240,563 to the former vice president’s campaign in the current election cycle and none to Trump, according to FEC data.

The figures reflected individual giving, not law firm contributions, and counted only donors who identified their occupation to the FEC as “lawyer” or “attorney.” Reuters analyzed data for more than 120,000 contributions reported by the candidates’ principal campaign committees to the FEC on Sept. 20, which includes donations made up to the end of August.

The data did not include donations to political action committees, donations transferred to candidates’ principal campaign committees from other sources, law firm PAC donations to federal candidates, or donations made by lawyers’ spouses or dependents.

Jones Day, whose lawyers contributed about $89,487 to Biden’s campaign, has earned more than $4.5 million since 2019 as outside counsel to Trump’s campaign, FEC records showed. Two Jones Day attorneys, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they donated to Biden because they preferred his policies and felt no pressure from colleagues at the firm to donate to Trump.

Jones Day spokesman Dave Petrou and Covington & Burling spokesman David Schaefer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“It shouldn’t be news that rich, liberal lawyers in Biden’s pocket are desperately trying to make up for his lackluster candidacy or that every big law firm has lawyers on both sides of the political aisle,” Trump campaign spokeswoman Samantha Zager said in an emailed statement.

Biden campaign spokesman Michael Gwin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lawyers long have donated more to Democratic presidential candidates than to Republicans, according to federal election data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group. The profession leans left overall, according to a 2015 report by professors at Stanford University, the University of Chicago and Harvard University, partly because many large and influential firms are based in liberal-leaning cities including New York and Los Angeles.

Lawyers at three other firms that have represented Trump or his campaign - Porter Wright Morris & Arthur; Kasowitz Benson Torres; and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius - also donated overwhelmingly to Biden.

Porter Wright received more than $250,000 from the Trump campaign in August while representing it in lawsuits over mail-balloting procedures in the election battleground state of Pennsylvania. Its attorneys donated $5,750 to Biden’s campaign and none to Trump’s campaign from the beginning of last year to the end of August.

Robert Trafford, a Columbus, Ohio-based Porter Wright litigation partner who donated $1,000 to the Biden campaign last year, said his firm’s work for Trump’s campaign does not “change the political giving of individual partners.”

“How I may feel about it really isn’t important,” Trafford said. “I do think it’s important that the firm be able to take on representations even when they’re controversial.”

Representatives for Morgan Lewis, which has represented Trump on tax matters, and Kasowitz Benson Torres, home of Trump’s former longtime personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission showed on Tuesday that Biden’s campaign entered the final stretch of the race with a large cash advantage over Trump’s campaign ahead of the Nov. 3 election. At the end of September, Biden’s campaign had about $177 million in cash compared to $63 million held by the Trump campaign.

For graphics on individual lawyer contributions to the Trump and Biden campaigns, see here and here

Reporting by Rick Linsk, Disha Raychaudhuri and Caroline Spiezio; Editing by David Bario, Alexia Garamfalvi, Noeleen Walder and Will Dunham