Monday, February 02, 2004

Capitalism & Law: Supporting the Enemy

This item in today's Washington Times caught my attention:
Some of the biggest donors to New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, widely expected to run for governor, are lawyers working for people he is suing.

A BusinessWeek analysis of New York state election filings found that among contributions being received by his Spitzer 2006 campaign organization are some from attorneys representing clients against whom Mr. Spitzer's office has filed charges.

For example, Mr. Spitzer received $1,000 from defense lawyer Gerald Shargel on the same day Mr. Shargel's client, William Kenyon, ex-president of Security Trust, was arraigned for grand larceny and fraud. Mr. Kenyon purportedly acted as a middleman to facilitate market timing for hedge fund Canary Capital Partners.

"On the same day that I'm having heated discussions with his office, [Mr. Spitzer's fund-raisers are] calling, saying, 'Where's my check?' " Mr. Shargel said.

Kramer, Levin, Naftalis, & Frankel, the law firm for Canary Capital head Edward Stern, has given $12,000 to Spitzer — $2,000 before the Canary case and $10,000 after a $40 million settlement with Mr. Spitzer, United Press International reports.
I'm less concerned about Spitzer's ethics in raising this money than I am with the ethics of the lawyers donating the money. If I were being prosecuted on some malicious false charge—and most everything a state attorney general prosecutes people for falls into that category—I would not want my attorney contributing funds to keep the prosecutor in office, or worse, elevate him to a higher position. A lawyer that does that is saying he believes more in the state's right to exercise coercive power than he does in my innocence.

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