Asbestos giant SimmonsCooper spent big on Sen. Biden

Steve Korris Sep. 5, 2008, 8:38am

Delaware AG Beau Biden

Sen. Joe Biden

Jeff Cooper

SimmonsCooper attorneys, staff and relatives contributed more than $160,000 to campaigns of Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden after the firm began filing asbestos suits through a Delaware firm that employed Biden's son, Beau Biden.

Federal Election Commission reports show Joe Biden's campaign for a seventh U.S. Senate term received at least $114,250 from SimmonsCooper in 2005 and 2006.

His presidential bid received at least $46,450 from SimmonsCooper last year.

SimmonsCooper filed hundreds of asbestos suits in Delaware in 2005, after Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack announced he would transfer cases that didn't belong in his court.

To accommodate SimmonsCooper, Beau Biden -- elected Delaware attorney general in 2006 -- dropped a client he had defended against asbestos suits and switched to the plaintiff side.

At the same time, Sen. Biden resisted reform of asbestos litigation on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He joined a minority report declaring that if Congress created a trust fund to pay asbestos claims, plaintiff lawyers would quickly deplete it and start suing again.

The minority promised that bankruptcies would follow. A bill to create a trust fund failed.

Following Sen. Biden's speech before the Democratic National Convention last week, the Los Angeles Times examined ties between SimmonsCooper and the Biden family, including campaign contributions and business dealings.

An Aug. 28 article stated that SimmonsCooper employees "provided much more money to Biden than to any other senator" since 2001, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The article also stated that "SimmonsCooper has spent $6.4 million since 2002 lobbying Washington, according to records on CQ MoneyLine, much of it directed at opposing the (asbestos) trust fund bill."

Before SimmonsCooper shifted its suits to Delaware, the firm had already established a connection with Biden.

Campaign reports show that on Aug. 20, 2003, in the first year of Biden's sixth term, his campaign received $21,500 from SimmonsCooper.

The firm's leaders, John Simmons and Jeff Cooper, each contributed $4,000, as did attorney Marcus Raichle.

Spouses Francesca Cooper and Amber Raichle each contributed $4,000.

Rosalind Robertson contributed $1,000, and John Daugherty contributed $500.

On Dec. 31, 2005, SimmonsCooper contributed almost $60,000 to the campaign.

In the weeks that followed, SimmonsCooper delivered more than $50,000.

On March 31, 2007, after Biden declared himself a candidate for president, SimmonsCooper contributed $28,000 to that campaign.

Jeff Cooper and Francesca Cooper each contributed $4,600, as did Perry Browder and spouse Michelle Browder.

Raichle matched that amount, Gregg Kirkland contributed $4,000, and Robert Phillips added $1,000.

On April 13, 2007, Michael Angelides and Nicholas Angelides each contributed $4,600, and so did Juliet Angelides.

John Barnerd and spouse Amy Barnerd each contributed $2,300.

The last contribution, $250 from Cynthia Flack, arrived this January.

Raichle is no longer with SimmonsCooper.

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