Institute for Legal Reform

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The Institute for Legal Reform is an affiliate of the US Chamber of Commerce focused on advancing business-friendly legal reforms, such as making class-action lawsuits more difficult to file.[1] Politico has described ILR as a "project set up by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to defend business interests in court."[2]

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

ILR and its parent organization, the US Chamber of Commerce, have ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The Chamber of Commerce has been a member of the Civil Justice Task Force,[3] the Education Task Force,[4] the International Relations Task Force[5][6] and the Telecommunications and Information Technology Task Force,[7] according to ALEC materials. According to an August 2013 ALEC board document obtained by The Guardian, the Chamber of Commerce's Campaign for Free Enterprise terminated its membership in ALEC's Education Task Force on April 22, 2013. The ILR, however, had also been part of this task force, and was not listed as "lapsed" or "terminated."[6]

Page Faulk, Vice President of Legal Reform Initiatives,[8] presented "The Promoting Merit in 'Merit Selection' Act" model legislation at Civil Justice Task Force Meeting at the 2011 meeting.[3]

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.

Political Influence

Republican State Leadership Committee Churns Funds through ILR

ILR has been both a recipient of and contributor to the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), a relationship that Open Secrets describes as "a churning of funds that’s not uncommon among such networks of outside groups."[9] The RSLC's nonprofit affiliate, the State Government Leadership Fund, gave a grant to ILR in 2011; the following year, ILR contributed $3.65 million to RSLC.

Lobbying

ILR spends tens of millions on lobbying each year, amounting to over $300 million since 2002.[10] Through ILR and its own direct spending, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was the largest single spender on federal lobbying in the first two quarters of 2014, according to Politico.[11] Its issues in 2014 include taxes, torts, health care, and Medicare/Medicaid.[12] In 2012, lobbying was ILR's largest single budget item aside from contributions to other organizations.[13]

ILR lobbying spending


Among other issues, ILR has lobbied hard against disclosure requirements for donors to politically active nonprofits. Open Secrets reported in 2013 on lobbying reports filed by the US Chamber and ILR. The Chamber's report "mentioned opposition to “efforts to increase burdensome regulations on political spending,” specifically citing the DISCLOSE 2013 Act, which would require greater disclosure of political spending by corporations, unions and nonprofits. The Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform, a nonprofit subsidiary, listed lobbying on the “SEC rulemaking petition related to corporate political spending.”"[14]

ILR's registered lobbyists are its executive staff: Harold Kim, Nathan Morris, Lisa Rickard, Christina Schaengold, and Matt Webb.[15]

Adding "Muscle" to Bill Blocking Asbestos Claims

In 2013, ILR and the Chamber of Commerce lobbied heavily to pass the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (FACT Act), which would trusts formed to disburse funds to asbestos victims to file public reports about all claims made and funds disbursed, including the claimaint's name and exposure history, in order to reduce alleged fraud.[16]

Politico reported of ILR's efforts,

"The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform is putting some muscle behind a piece of legislation to crack down on asbestos claim fraud [...] In the final weeks leading up to the vote, the Institute is running full-page ads in the Beltway (including The Hill and POLITICO) to exert an all-out effort on an issue it says is critical to the business community. The Chamber put out a letter today naming the FACT Act one of the key votes in how it ranks its annual member scorecard. A third quarter lobbying report filed by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld reports that Institute spent $230,000 on this and other fraud-related issues with the firm in the past few months."[17]

The bill was sponsored in the U.S. House by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) and passed along largely partisan lines in November 2013.[18] It was then introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) in May 2014.[19]

Personnel

Senior Staff

As of September 2014:[8]

  • Lisa Rickard, President and Director. Total compensation in 2012: $1,734,764.[13] Rickard worked as a lobbyist for Dow Chemical from 2002-2003.[20]
  • Harold Kim, Executive Vice President. Total compensation in 2012: $403,489.[13]
  • James Barnett, Vice President, Political Affairs
  • M. Scévole de Cazotte, Vice President, International Initiatives
  • Page C. Faulk, Vice President, Legal Reform Initiatives. Total compensation in 2012: $225,830.[13]
  • Nathan Morris, Director, Legislative Affairs
  • Rita Perlman, Vice President, Operations and Contracts. Total compensation in 2012: $276,723.[13]
  • Bryan Quigley, Senior Vice President, Strategic Communications. Total compensation in 2012: $359,069.[13]
  • Christina L. Schaengold, Manager, Legislative Affairs
  • Oriana Senatore, Vice President, Policy and Research. Total compensation in 2012: $167,746.[13]
  • Matt Webb, Senior Vice President, Legal Reform Policy. Total compensation in 2012: $287,265.[13]
  • Andrew Wynne, Director, State Legislative Affairs

Former staff member Linda E. Kelly was hired in 2013 by the National Association of Manufacturers to head a legal center similar to the ILR.[2]

Board of Directors

ILR's board does not appear to be listed on its website. According to its IRS filings, its board as of 2012 included:[13]

  • Katherine L. Adams
  • Stanton D. Anderson
  • S. Jack Balagia
  • Andrew A. Barnard
  • Steve Bartlett
  • Susan L. Bount
  • Kim M. Brunner, Vice Chair
  • James B. Buda
  • John J. Castellani
  • Stephen M. Cutler
  • John J. Degnan
  • Brackett B. Denniston
  • Thomas J. DesRosier
  • Russell Deyo
  • Thomas J. Donohue, CEO
  • John M. Engler
  • Charles Gerdts
  • Thomas A. Gottschalk, Chairman. Gottschalk served an executive vice president of General Motors and as a partner at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis in Washington, D.C.[21]
  • Patricia R. Hatler
  • Patricia A. Henry
  • Mark V. Holden
  • G. Edison Holland
  • Jeffrey W. Jackson
  • Charles J. Kalil
  • Francis A. Keating
  • Dennis F. Kerrigan
  • Connie Lewis Lensing
  • Christopher C. Mansfield
  • Michele Coleman Mayes
  • Richard G. McCarty
  • Bradford C. Nielson
  • Lisa A. Rickard, President and Director
  • Laura J. Schumacher
  • Kenneth F. Spence
  • Michael H. Ullmann
  • Craig D Vermie
  • Lily Fu Claffee, General Counsel
  • Robin S. Conrad, Assistant Secretary
  • Stan M. Harrell, Treasurer and CFO
  • Judith K. Richmond, Secretary

Funding

ILR files separate tax documents from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.[22]

Majority of Funding from a Handful of Wealthy Donors

A 2014 report by Public Citizen, “The Gilded Chamber: Despite Claims of Representing Millions of Businesses, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Gets Most of Its Money From Just 64 Donors,” analyzed the 1,619 contributions listed by the Chamber of Commerce and the ILR on their 2012 Form 990 tax returns and found that a tiny fraction of donors account for most of their contributions.

The average reported contribution to the ILR was $454,110, and a mere 21 donors gave $27.3 million, about two thirds of its total contributions for the year. Nearly all of ILR's contributions were in the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.[23]

“The U.S. Chamber is one of the largest conduits of dark money in the country, but it refuses to disclose its donors,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, where U.S. Chamber Watch is housed. “The American people deserve to know more about who’s influencing this powerful force in our politics. By looking at the size of the Chamber’s and ILR’s donations, we can learn a little more about what kinds of businesses they represent – seemingly, very large ones.” [24]

The report is available here.

Core Financials

2012[13]

  • Total Revenue: $43,854,035
  • Total Expenses: $45,191,289
    • Lobbying Expenses: $32,195,426
    • Officer/Key Employee Compensation: $2,340,373
  • Net Assets: $31,526,293

2011[25]

  • Total Revenue: $42,824,423
  • Total Expenses: $33,980,339
    • Lobbying Expenses: $22,690,584
    • Officer/Key Employee Compensation: $2,147,084

Net Assets: $32,863,546

Grants and Contributions

2012[13]

2011[25]

References

  1. Institute for Legal Reform, "What We Do," organizational pamphlet, accessed September 23, 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Byron Tau and Andrea Drusch, "[1]," Politico, September 26, 2013. Accessed September 23, 2014.
  3. 3.0 3.1 American Legislative Exchange Council, Civil Justice Task Force Meeting Agenda, August 5, 2011, on file with CMD
  4. American Legislative Exchange Council, "Education Task Force Meeting," agenda and meeting materials, August 5, 2011, on file with CMD
  5. American Legislative Exchange Council, International and Federal Relations Task Force meeting and Federal Relations Working Group, meeting agenda and materials, August 4, 2011, on file with CMD
  6. 6.0 6.1 American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC 40th Anniversary Annual Meeting Board Meeting packet, organizational documents, August 6, 2013, released by The Guardian December 3, 2013.
  7. American Legislative Exchange Council, "Telecommunications & Information Technology Task Force Meeting," agenda and meeting materials, August 5, 2011, on file with CMD
  8. 8.0 8.1 Institute for Legal Reform, Our Leadership, organizational website, accessed September 23, 2014.
  9. Dan Glaun and Viveca Novak, "RSLC Goes In With Developers to Turn Tide in NY State Senate," Open Secrets, July 3, 2014. Accessed September 23, 2014.
  10. Center for Responsive Politics, Institute for Legal Reform, lobbying report, Open Secrets Database, accessed September 23, 2014.
  11. Byron Tau, "The State of K Street," Politico, July 22, 2014. Accessed September 23, 2014.
  12. Center for Responsive Politics, Institute for Legal Reform, lobbying issues, Open Secrets Database, accessed September 23, 2014.
  13. 13.00 13.01 13.02 13.03 13.04 13.05 13.06 13.07 13.08 13.09 13.10 Institute for Legal Reform, 2012 IRS form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed September 3, 2014.
  14. Russ Choma, "Koch Industries, Business Groups Lobby Against Donor Disclosure," Open Secrets, April 25, 2013. Accessed September 23, 2014.
  15. Center for Responsive Politics, Institute for Legal Reform, registered lobbyists 2014, Open Secrets database, accessed September 23, 2014.
  16. H.R.982 - Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2013, bill text, government record, accessed September 23, 2014.
  17. Byron Tau and Andrea Dusch, "Chamber pushes asbestos claim reform," Politico, November 12, 2013. Accessed September 23, 2014.
  18. Pete Kasperowicz, "House votes for increased transparency on asbestos claims," The Hill', November 13, 2013.
  19. Office of Senator Jeff Flake, "Flake Introduces Bill to Increase Transparency, Reduce Fraud in Asbestos Settlement Trusts," press release, May 12, 2014. Accessed September 23, 2014.
  20. Center for Responsive Politics, Lisa Rickard, lobbyist profile, accessed September 23, 2014.
  21. Bloomberg Businessweek, "Thomas A. Gottschalk, profile, accessed September 23, 2014.
  22. Guidestar, Institute for Legal Reform, tax filings, accessed September 23, 2014.
  23. Public Citizen, "Majority of Donations to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Given by Just 64 Entities," press release, February 6, 2014. Accessed September 23, 2014.
  24. Majority of Donations to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Given by Just 64 Entities, Common Dreams, February 7, 2014.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Institute for Legal Reform, 2011 IRS form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed September 3, 2014.