The relationship manifested itself again this week when housing legislation was considered by Congress. Tucked into the housing bill was a $35 million taxpayer-funded slush fund for trial lawyers seeking to cash in on the housing downturn. The bill, if enacted into law, would “require that [$35] million ... be used for grants to state and local legal organizations with experience in foreclosure law.” A bill portrayed as an effort to help struggling homeowners was used to line the pockets of the Democratic majority’s trial lawyer allies, courtesy of American taxpayers and homeowners truly in need of help.
Last week, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and I asked the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., to schedule a hearing on the Milberg Weiss trial lawyer scandal by May 19, the date on which Mr. Lerach is expected to report to federal prison. A copy of our letter to Chairman Conyers was also sent to Speaker Pelosi. To date, there has been no response.
A complete investigation of the trial lawyer scandal is needed to examine the scope of the threat to our economy. But a recent analysis by Congressional Quarterly observed that “[t]he majority Democrats in Congress, so many of whom are beholden to the financial largesse of trial lawyers, are unlikely to undertake that investigation.”
I hope that independent prediction proves wrong. Inaction in the face of a clear and present danger to our economy is negligence. But inaction for the purpose of protecting major campaign donors is corruption — the very scourge the current congressional leadership pledged to obliterate when it asked Americans to put it in charge.
I remain hopeful Chairman Conyers will put politics aside and schedule a hearing by May 19 that will allow the facts in the Milberg Weiss trial lawyer scandal to be examined in an appropriate and bipartisan way.