John O'Brien May. 6, 2014, 11:55am
NEW YORK – A New York State Trial Lawyers Association event featuring U.S. Rep. and Senate-hopeful Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, was not open to the media.
Braley was scheduled to speak at NYSTLA’s annual Law Day Dinner on Thursday. Freelance journalist and attorney T.K. Kim was hired by Legal Newsline to report on the event, but he was turned away once inside.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee had issued a press release two days before the event that argued journalists should be allowed to attend.
“It comes as no surprise that Bruce Braley refused to allow journalists to witness his latest closed door meeting with the powerful out-of-state trial lawyers that fund his campaign,” NRSC Press Secretary Brook Hougesen said.
“Braley has dedicated his career in Congress to serving the needs of trial lawyers – not the voice of Iowans. Iowans deserve a candidate who puts workers, farmers and families first – not an elitist like Bruce Braley who serves as a personal lobbyist for trial lawyers.”
In March, Braley, who is attempting to replace retiring Democrat Tom Harkin in the U.S. Senate, was caught on film calling Sen. Charles Grassley “a farmer who never went to law school” in front of Texas trial lawyers at a fundraiser.
Grassley, of Iowa, is the ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and would be in line for the chairmanship if Republicans gain a majority in the Senate.
Braley, who later apologized for the comment, is a former plaintiffs attorney who practiced at the Waterloo, Iowa, firm Dutton Braun Staack & Hellman. He is also a former president of the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association.
Four of Braley’s top five contributors so far are major personal injury law firms, according to opensecrets.org.
First on the list is the New York City asbestos firm Weitz & Luxenberg, which has given $39,675.
Herman, Herman & Katz of New Orleans has added $29,200, while Waters Kraus & Paul has given $19,350 and the Beasley Allen law firm in Alabama has given $17,700.
Kim says he was told the event was for NYSTLA members and has always been closed to the press.
Kim said he paid the $285 entrance fee but was told the event was closed when he was asked if he was withLegal Newsline. He was refunded the fee.
Braley’s November opponent has not been determined. The Republican primary will be held June 3, but if no candidate amasses 35 percent of the vote, the winner will be chosen at a GOP convention.
From Legal Newsline: Reach editor John O’Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org.