Colorado candidates for Congress or governor received 7,942 contributions from lawyers during this year’s midterm elections, the Federal Election Commission reported this week.
Nationwide, there were 13 law firms that contributed at least a quarter-million dollars to either congressional candidates or party committees, some with offices in Colorado.
More contributions went to Democrats than Republicans across the U.S., reflecting lawyers’ dislike of Republican President Donald Trump, according to the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics and some political analysts.
Total contributions by lawyers to federal candidates from Colorado for this month’s election reached $3.9 million, the Federal Election Commission told Colorado Politics. The last time there was a midterm election for Colorado with no Senate race was in 2012, when contributions from lawyers to federal candidates were $2.3 million.
The single biggest contribution from a third-party attorney to a Colorado candidate was $5,000 to the successful gubernatorial campaign of Democrat Jared Polis. It came from Joseph McCarthy of the Los Angeles-based law firm McAdam & McCarthy, LLP. He is a specialist in business-plan development and foreign-investor immigration law, as well as a graduate of the Colorado School of Mines in Golden.
Some Colorado candidates who are attorneys donated money to their own campaign committees.
Karl Hanlon, a Democrat, gave two contributions of $12,088 apiece to his own campaign as he ran against Diane Mitsch Bush unsuccessfully in the Democrat primary in Congressional District 3. Hanlon is a partner in the Glenwood Springs firm of Karp, Neu, Hanlon.
Law firms that donated to the Colorado candidates represented some of the nation’s powerhouses in the legal profession, also known as Big Law. Among them are BakerHostetler; Squire, Patton, Boggs; and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
The FEC reported that 133 law firm PACs contributed a total of $13.1 million nationwide to candidates or their parties before the midterms.
However, PAC donations are only a small slice of the legal profession’s contributions in this election cycle. Individual lawyers contributed $135.2 million to congressional candidates and political parties, the Center for Responsive Politics reported.
Contributions from PACs have declined steadily since 2010, when the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling allowed other forms of campaign contributions. They include “dark money” and large contributions from super PACs.
Dark money refers to funds given to nonprofit organizations that can spend that money to influence elections, but are not required to disclose their donors. There are no legal limits on the amount of dark money that corporations, individuals and unions can give to the nonprofits.
Super PACs are a type of independent PAC that can raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions and individuals but are not allowed to contribute directly to parties or candidates.
Other major law firms that contributed heavily to political campaigns nationwide or in Colorado before the midterms include Akin Gump; K&L Gates; Cozen O’Connor; Brownstein Hyatt; Nelson Mullins; DLA Piper; Kelley Drye & Warren; and Covington & Burling.
Total spending by candidates, parties, PACs and others reached just over $5.2 billion during the election cycle that ended this month, making it the most costly midterm in history, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.