Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Conflict of Interest: Lawyers For Spitzer


Spitzer's campaign website seems to encourage conflicts of interest by specifically soliciting lawyers for their support.

While no other occupation (except maybe student if that qualifies) has its own group, the main page of has a link encouraging lawyers to join Lawyers for Spitzer.

The Lawyers for Spitzer page even includes a pre written email that those who join can use to solicit money from their fellow lawyers:
We all have to play a role in New York’s future and the beginning of real reform in our state. No matter where you live in the United States, the reality is that political campaigns cost a lot of money. If we want real reform in New York – one of the “big four” states – we must actively campaign for Eliot to be our next governor in New York.
Furthermore the possibility that lawyers might have professional dealings with the NY Attorney General's office is completely overlooked on the page through which donors can contribute online. Instead only a small checkbox next to the the following statement serves to monitor conflicts of interest:
By making this contribution I am notifying Spitzer 2006 that to the best of my knowledge neither I nor any corporation which I own or currently control has any matter presently pending with the New York State Attorney General’s office.
Without any mention of employees in this "Contributor's Pledge" it leaves open real ethical concerns because lawyers who might have dealings with the AG's office are free to give the Attorney General $16,200 in the primary and $33,900 in the general election.

But, could over $50,000 in campaign contributions mean special influence from the Attorney General's office?

Certainly it would seem that Spitzer's calls for lowering the individual contribution limit suggest that he thinks it might.


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