Lobbyists Swarm Hill Over Legal Reforms

THE fight over reforming the legal system is sparking the most frenetic lobbying on Capitol Hill since last year's health-care debate.

Big business is attacking. Lawyers are defending. Talk-shows are buzzing. TV spots are running. It's almost enough to divert attention from the O.J. Simpson trial. ``We will spend whatever it takes to win this,'' says Frank Coleman of the US Chamber of Commerce, refering to the group's campaign in favor of ``tort'' reform.

The chamber, along with countless other business organizations, is pelting the nation's airwaves with radio and TV spots designed to pressure undecided lawmakers to vote for a series of sweeping liability reform bills being debated in the House this week. The measures are generally opposed by consumer groups and trial lawyers.

The chamber calls its drive a ``grass-roots effort.'' Its radio ads spotlight out-of-control lawsuits. Outraged listeners are urged to call their local representatives. The spots are dropped when a lawmaker has taken a position.

Are the campaigns working?

``Our phones have been ringing off the hook,'' says Mike Armini, an aide to Rep. Peter Torkildsen (R) of Massachusetts, a target of the chamber's ads. Mr. Torkildsen supports tort reforms, but has reservations about a couple of the House measures.

How much money the chamber is spending on the ad campaign is secret. ``I will tell you that last year we spent $18 million to $20 million influencing legislation,'' Coleman says.

By the time it's all over, The National Federation of Independent Business will have sent over 400,000 ``Action Alerts'' to its members, urging them to berate their lawmakers in their own words.

Share this story:

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK