U.S. Sen Joe Biden (D-SimmonsCooper)

The Madison County Record Sep. 7, 2008, 8:00am

Why would a Madison County law firm take such a keen interest in the political fortunes of a U.S. Senator from tiny ole' Delaware?

Ask the asbestos-obsessed lawyers of SimmonsCooper, and they'll likely tell you that Sen. Joe Biden, the running mate of Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama, is their kind of guy. Biden is avowedly pro-lawsuit. He's anti-tort reform. And so are they.

That's why SimmonsCooper has so showered Biden with money--nearly $200,000 in campaign contributions, according to the Los Angeles Times. It sure pays to be friends of John Simmons and Jeff Cooper.

According to the Times' analysis, however, SimmonsCooper is more than just a generous supporter of the senator. The firm is Biden's "No. 1 donor" since 2001.

During the past seven years, no company or organization has given more money to Delaware's senior senator than SimmonsCooper. None of Delaware's largest employers-- Bank of America has more than 10,000 employees in the state-- has proved as supportive as a small East Alton law firm, located 900 miles away.

During the same span, no U.S. Senator--not Obama nor U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, a true blue, lawsuit-loving liberal born and raised right down the road--received as much campaign largesse from SimmonsCooper as Biden.

What gives?

Plenty, as we reported back in July 2005. That's when we broke the story that SimmonsCooper, driving force of the asbestos lawsuit machine, was seeking to move its traveling litigation circus to New Castle County, Delaware.

Its local law firm collaborator: Bifferato, Gentilotti and Biden.

That's Biden as in Joseph "Beau" Biden III, the thirty-something son of Joe the U.S. Senator.

That's Biden, as in a name that says influence and clout in the small political pond of Delaware.

That's Biden, as in Delaware's biggest brand name in national Democratic politics.

Big brands beget big relationships, which explains how an inexperienced young lawyer like Beau Biden was able to strike a curious, potentially lucrative partnership with a scheming group like SimmonsCooper.

Biden and company had big ambitions. A defense attorney for Ford and General Motors, frequent targets on asbestos, told a Delaware court that "SimmonsCooper wants New Castle County to be its new Madison County."

But Beau Biden's partner, Conor Bifferato, argued that wasn't the case at all. And the judge accepted their asbestos cases--hundreds of them--each historically worth millions in settlement dollars.

Trials are rare, if not non-existent. The model is just to file, negotiate, and watch the settlement money roll in-- just like Madison County.

They've been bountiful times for Bifferato, Gentilotti and Biden, SimmonsCooper and the campaign coffers of their favorite politician, Sen. Joseph Biden.

Lots of dollars and "change you can believe in."

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