Doyle Got $10,000 From Lawyers of Indicted Firm

May 30, 2006

Madison - Democratic Governor Jim Doyle accepted $10,000 in campaign contributions in 2004 from attorneys at a New York law firm accused this month of paying more than $11 million in illegal kickbacks to get people to participate in lawsuits against corporations.

The firm, Milberg Weiss Bershad and Schulman, and attorneys David Bershad and Steven Schulman were indicted by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles of secretly paying people to be class action plaintiffs in shareholder lawsuits handled by the firm since 1981.

Campaign finance records show Schulman and Bershad were among 10 of the firm’s lawyers who contributed a total of $10,000 to Doyle, mostly on June 29 and June 30, 2004 (see table below). No contributions were made to any other Wisconsin candidates for legislative or statewide office by employees of the firm before or since.

The 20-count indictment includes money laundering, racketeering, mail fraud, filing false tax returns and obstruction of justice charges.

Contributions to Governor Jim Doyle from
Milberg Weiss Bershad and Schulman Attorneys

Date Contributor City Amount
6/29/04 Bershad, DJ New York, NY $2,100
6/3/04 Congress, JM New York, NY $500
6/30/04 Dumain, SP New York, NY $700
6/29/04 Friedman, BN New York, NY $600
6/30/04 Schulman, SG New York, NY $1,800
6/30/04 Spencer, M New York, NY $500
6/30/04 Wallner, R New York, NY $400
6/30/04 Weintraub, D New York, NY $300
6/29/04 Weiss, Melvyn New York, NY $2,700
6/30/04 Weprin, B New York, NY $400
TOTAL $10,000

Last November, WDC issued a report showing more than $23,000 in campaign contributions since 2003 to the two Republican gubernatorial candidates at the time and Doyle from Illinois contributors who were under investigation, indicted or convicted of fraud, bribery and other charges.

In January, GOP gubernatorial candidate Mark Green returned more than $8,800 from contributors who were charged or convicted of corruption. Doyle campaign manager Rich Judge said at the time that the two Illinois contributions totaling $6,500 to Doyle were not made by people accused of political corruption and that no problems had been identified with any contributions to the governor.

But a short time later Doyle decided to return one of those donations, $5,000 by John Burgess, because he received it around the time Burgess’ company was negotiating an out-of-court settlement in 2005 with the state Justice Department involving complaints about its business practices.

Doyle also returned a $1,000 contribution identified by WDC that was made to the governor in 2003 by a former associate of Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Abramoff was convicted of fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials. The contributor was not implicated with Abramoff, but Judge said in media reports the money was returned because Abramoff’s actions were “so out of whack.”