Despite historical reluctance by many big-name lawyers to appear overtly political — you never know who your next client may be, after all — the list of so-called Biden bundlers included notable names from major partnerships including Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Covington & Burling LLP, DLA Piper and O'Melveny & Myers LLP.
Among the people credited with raising at least $100,000 for Biden is Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz counsel Leo Strine Jr. The former chief justice of the Delaware Supreme Court said he'd tapped firm colleagues as well as friends to raise money for Biden, a fellow Delaware native Strine called his "first political hero."
"It's not my bag to do this — I am a longtime advocate of very substantial campaign finance reform — but this was a special situation involving a candidate I have supported forever and a rather compelling situation," Strine said.
Strine, who became of counsel to Wachtell's corporate department earlier this year after retiring from the bench, said he'd raised north of $100,000 but less than half a million.
After 21 years on the bench, "my campaign skills were a little rusty, but I wanted to do what I could to help us elect a great person who cares so much about our nation, and particularly for working people," he told Law360 in an email.
Just three days before the election and with some 90 million votes already cast, the Biden-Harris campaign released a bare-bones list — just names and hometowns — of 817 individuals and couples who'd raised at least $100,000 from their personal networks for the campaign or a joint Democratic party fund.
Typically, bundlers also make the maximum personal contribution of $2,800; that figure is not reflected in the $100,000-and-up list. And unlike similar disclosures made by former President Barack Obama amid the 2012 race, the Biden campaign's list does not include broad fundraising ranges or bundlers' employers.
Altogether, Biden and the Democratic National Committee have raised more than $1.5 billion for the 2020 presidential race, including $167 million in the first half of October alone, according to an analysis by NPR. Trump and the Republican National Committee have raised $1.57 billion.
Unsurprisingly, the list of top Biden fundraisers features a number of Democratic politicians, including former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Rep. Adam Schiff of California and Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.
Wall Street is also well represented by the likes of Morgan Stanley managing director and vice chairman Thomas Nides; Blackstone CEO Jonathan Gray; and billionaire hedge fund manager Marc Lasry of Avenue Capital Group, who also co-owns the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks.
With California leading the group in terms of geographic breakdown, Biden's Hollywood and Silicon Valley bundlers include film director and Oscar winner Lee Daniels; LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman; and Amazon general counsel David Zapolsky. Tony West, Uber's chief legal counsel and brother-in-law of vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, is also a Biden bundler.
Also on the list is O'Melveny chair Bradley Butwin, who told Law360 that he'd never before raised money for a campaign. Reflecting some of BigLaw's apolitical tendencies, he was quick to emphasize that his fundraising effort was "strictly personal," and declined to say how much he'd raised.
"There is a lot of emotion in this election, the whole country is watching, and our job as a firm is not to be political, but to respect and value all perspectives," he said.
"I have no doubt that regardless of how the election comes out, you'll have people at the firm who are happy and others who are unhappy," Butwin added.
Also raising money for the Biden-Harris ticket was Faiza J. Saeed, presiding partner of Cravath, who in 2016 became the first woman to lead the venerated Wall Street firm.
DLA Piper co-U.S. managing partner Richard Chesley made the $100,000-and-up list, as did Bill Singer, a Kirkland counsel who was a Hillary Clinton bundler during the 2016 campaign, and King & Spalding LLP's Sally Yates. Yates was deputy U.S. attorney during Obama's second term and served briefly as acting U.S. attorney in the early days of the Trump administration.
Buckley LLP managing partner Benjamin Klubes also served as a Biden fundraiser, as did Wiley Rein LLP managing partner Peter Shields. Covington commercial litigation practice co-chair Mitch Kamin and the firm's West Coast head for white collar defense and investigations, Daniel Shallman, are also on the list.
Those and a handful of other BigLaw attorneys either did not respond to messages or declined to comment.
Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP chairman Brad Karp, who also appears among the elite Biden fundraisers after decades of involvement in politics, called it "the most consequential presidential election of my lifetime."
"As someone who cares passionately about preserving the rule of law, safeguarding our democracy and protecting fundamental liberties, I've been delighted to do everything I possibly can to support the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris ticket," he said in an email.
The Trump campaign has not disclosed the names of its bundlers. A message left with the campaign press office was not immediately returned Monday.
--Editing by Breda Lund.
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