With a roster of more than 1,700 attorneys working fervently on Capitol Hill, in communities around the globe, the K&L Gates name is always in the news. Its prominent attorneys, which include former congressmen, governors and even former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, are cited widely on regulatory issues, including the foreclosure crisis and campaign finance and ethics.
The firm’s lawyers helped investigate the 2004 60 Minutes report about President George W. Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard. According to the firm’s website, it provides legal advice to a consortium of 85 percent of the U.S. commercial nuclear industry, advising on how to stave off civil claims of radiation exposure or injury. And on the other side of the spectrum, K&L Gates even represented the college student who found that lost iPhone prototype last year.
Here are a few more notable headlines detailing the firm’s ties to prominent companies and national issues.
“A congressman, a lobbying firm and a swift path to earmarks”
The Washington Post, Paul Kane and Carol D. Leonnig, Oct. 26, 2009
Rep. Peter J. Visclosky, a Democratic congressman from Indiana, was one of several officials pulled into federal investigations of PMA Group, the D.C. lobbying firm whose founder was just sentenced to prison for charges related to illegal campaign contributions.
In 2009, The Washington Post detailed Visclosky’s work to win federal appropriations for clients of K&L Gates’ lobbyists in Washington.
From the story: “A Post review shows that the K&L Gates clients winning Visclosky’s support, along with their lobbyists and investors, donated almost $200,000 to Visclosky and an additional $130,000 to the House Democratic campaign committee since 2005. The donations often came in clusters, around the time Visclosky’s committee was crafting its annual earmarks, which are added to the budget by committee members and do not go through the competitive or approval processes required for most government contracts.”
Visclosky was later exonerated by the U.S. House of Representatives ethics committee.
“Pennsylvania Shale Boom: Drilling for Trouble?”
The AmLaw Daily, Dimitra Kessenides, Nov. 24, 2010
Even if the name of the documentary Gasland doesn’t ring a bell, one of its most famous scenes willwhen a resident of Dimock Township, Pa., turns on his kitchen faucet and lights his tap water on fire.
A dozens residents from Dimock Township have sued Cabot Oil & Gas for contaminating their well water while drilling for natural gas, and a similar suit has arisen from families in Lenox Township in northeastern Pennsylvania, who say that Southwestern Energy Company contaminated its water supply while drilling for gas, causing neurological and gastrointestinal illness.
K&L Gates, which has its international headquarters in Pittsburgh, is representing both energy companies. From the story: “The firm has some 30 lawyers doing shale work, and has clearly gained from the Marcellus surge. With litigation partner Walter Blunt, Jr., in a lead role, K&L Gates also represents the Marcellus Shale Coalition, helping group members navigate the regulatory and litigation landscape.”
“In midterm elections, Washington lobbying becomes a line of attack for both parties”
The Washington Post, Dan Eggen, Oct. 6, 2010
Opponents were ready to call out U.S. Senate candidate and former pro-wrestling executive Linda McMahon last year when she repeatedly denied that her company had lobbyists at work in Washington. From the story: “Federal disclosure records clearly show that WWE and its predecessor, the World Wrestling Federation, have been regular lobbying clients in Washington for more than a decade. … The company also paid more than $300,000 to K&L Gates, a lobbying and law firm, to represent WWE during a House investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional wrestling, records show.”
“Why a ferry gets to dump coal waste in Lake Michigan”
Milwaukee News Buzz, Matt Hrodey, June 15, 2010
Despite its innocuous (or even cuddly) name, the coal-fired S.S. Badger ferry could be doing substantial environmental harm, dumping an estimated seven tons of coal ash into Lake Michigan waters every day. The ferry’s operator hired Barry Hartman and Mark Ruge, two D.C. lobbyists from K&L Gates, to persuade the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to let it keep doing so until December 2012. From the story: “According to federal disclosure forms, that Lake Michigan Carferry employed Mark Ruge, a lobbyist specializing in maritime law and a partner in a large Washington D.C. lobbying firm. Ruge was paid $120,000 between July 2008 and June 2009 to lobby on a ‘new EPA permit for discharge from vessels.’ As the EPA drew up the new rules, the company asked for coal ash discharge to be exempted totally. In the end, it only got the temporary exemption. Sean Ramach, an EPA vessels specialist, says the Badger is the only vessel he’s aware of that utilizes the exemption.”
“Puget Sound Partnership funds misspent”
The Bellingham Herald, Jordan Schrader, May 14, 2010
A state audit last year of the Puget Sound Partnership in Washington state found the nonprofit foundation wiggled around a contract bidding process, and K&L Gates was the recipient.”In an apparent attempt to circumvent competitive bidding requirements for contracts of $20,000 or more, the partnership sought to pay law firm K&L Gates $19,999. After additions to the contract and extra payments that exceeded that figure, the firm was paid $51,498,” Schrader wrote.