Alexander's Column

Gore on Trial for Lawyers

Mark Alexander · Sep. 15, 2000

One of the Democrats’ four cornerstones of support (unions, Hollywood glitterati, trial lawyers and “victims” of all descriptions) is in trouble. Trial lawyers, long a staple of Democrat coffers, have given more than $7 million to the Demos in recent months in a quid pro quo to ensure Albert Gore will oppose any effort at tort reform. Of course, such quid pro quos are accomplished with winks and nods leaving no paper trails – until now.

A memo from the last presidential campaign cycle may prove problematic for Gore. In 1995, he was in Houston collecting from trial lawyers but did not connect with pal Walter Umphrey. So Don Fowler, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, called Umphrey on Gore’s behalf, using a prepared memo prompting, “Reason for call is ‘Sorry you missed the Vice President; I know (you) will give $100K when the President vetoes tort reform but we really need it now. Please send ASAP if possible’.”

Clinton vetoed the Republicans’ tort reform bill in May 1996, and Umphrey anted up $100 large. Since then, Umphrey and his firm have given $800,000 to the Democrats, $420,000 in the current campaign. Then Clinton led the charge against tobacco companies, creating a $3.3 billion windfall for trial lawyers after a $17.3 billion settlement. And they, being a grateful sort, have reciprocated by rewarding Demo campaigns across the nation with large “gratuities.”

Gore spokesman Jim Kennedy says, “Republicans and [the Justice Department] have had this for more than 1,000 days. No one found it interesting till 1,000 hours before the election.” Of course, the Demos have had Janet “Blockade” Reno for more than 2,700 days.

Unfortunately for justice, “the most ethical administration” and its media props have so obscured the line between right and wrong that a majority of couch potatoes no longer care.

Ironically, this latest assault on constitutional “rule of law” occurs as we – at least a few of us – prepare to celebrate the anniversary of the signing of our U.S. Constitution this Sunday. It was September 17, 1787, that 39 delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed that foundational document for which they had toiled in war since 1776 under the leadership of George Washington.

Perhaps Clinton-Gore-Lieberman can lay a wreath on its display case at the national archives.

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