Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden has close ties to the asbestos litigation specialists of law firm SimmonsCooper. Biden and his brother received $1 million in financing from the law firm to purchase hedge funds. The money was returned, however, after the deal failed. SimmonsCooper has also worked closely with Joe Biden’s son on its asbestos litigation cases in Delaware. Since 2001, employees of the Illinois firm have contributed more than any other entity to the Biden campaign, and the firm is perceived to have benefited from Joe Biden’s support in Congress. In line with the lobbying stance of SimmonsCooper, Biden has been a strong supporter of trial lawyers and has advocated for the right of asbestos victims to sue in court. Both he and SimmonsCooper oppose proposed legislation to create a trust fund to pay asbestos litigants rather than having cases go to court.
Biden has argued that the trust fund could run out and fail to pay enough in compensation to victims. Biden’s support for trial lawyers and civil suit proceedings could be construed as a conflict of interest due to his family ties to firms such as SimmonsCooper. Questions surrounding Biden’s voting record and seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee could be raised during the upcoming general election process, and his consistent support for lawyers has put Biden in conflict with his running mate, Barack Obama. Obama voted for the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, thus taking a position in opposition to the trial lawyers, but Biden opposed the bill and voted accordingly. Whether or not this will affect the two Democrats’ 2008 campaign for the White House remains to be seen.