Baron & Budd among asbestos firms donating to state races

David Yates Aug. 26, 2014, 1:28pm

DALLAS (Legal Newsline) – All across the nation, state candidates on every level are benefiting financially from the nation’s leading asbestos litigation firms.

Although based in Dallas, the Baron & Budd PC law firm and its attorneys have donated thousands of dollars to several out-of-state Democrats running for state offices, including Charlie Crist, who is seeking to reclaim the title of Florida governor, and two Nevada candidates – Ross Miller (attorney general) and Lucy Flores (lieutenant governor) – according to

The site further shows the firm gave $25,000 to the committee Top PAC.

In-state, Baron & Budd has thrown a sizeable portion of its contributions to a candidate not actually running for a state office, donating a total of $12,500 to Dallas Democratic Party Chairwoman Darlene Ewing, according to the Texas Ethics Commission.

However, the bulk of the firm’s donations ($25,000) have gone toward the re-election campaign of state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas.

Since 2000, Carona has received around $85,000 in donations from Baron & Budd, campaign finance records show.

The firm has also donated $5,000 to the Dallas County Democratic PAC and $3,000 to Dallas Judge Martin Lowy, a Democrat presiding over the 101st Civil District Court.

Approximately 650 miles north of Dallas, the Simmons Law Firm in Alton, Ill., has shown an interest in South Carolina state elections, donating $2,500 to Henry McMaster, a former state attorney general and Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, and $500 to incumbent Comptroller Richard Eckstorm, a Republican, according to

Within Illinois, the Simmons Law Firm and its attorneys have donated tens of thousands of dollars to state candidates and committees, including a $20,000 donation to the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association PAC on Jan. 2, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Some of the larger donations to state candidates include two donations of $5,000 a piece to state Sens. Don Harmon and Mike Frerichs, both of whom are Democrats.

The Simmons Law Firm has also donated $10,500 to the Committee to Support John Cullerton for State Central Committeeman, and $2,500 to Citizens for Clarence Harrison.

Harrison is an appointed associate judge running for circuit judge in Madison County - a hotbed for asbestos litigation in which the Simmons firm practices. Harrison also had presided over the asbestos docket until the time he announced his candidacy last year. 

On Jan. 31, firm founder attorney John Simmons donated $5,000 to John Lakin, who is running for Madison County sheriff.

Keeping inline with the Simmons firm, Napoli Bern Ripka & Associates LLP, which has offices stretching from the width of the nation, also donated to the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, forking over $5,000 to the organization so far in the 2013–2014 election cycle, according to

Finally, New York asbestos law firm Weitz & Luxenberg hasn’t been as busy as its colleagues, only doling out a single in-state contribution of $10,000 to the Sufflok County Democratic Committee on June 6, according to the New York State Board of Elections.

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