A Stark Contrast in Iowa

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By Phil Kerpen

Everything you need to know about Bruce Braley was made clear by the candidate himself in a thirty-seven second video of him speaking to his real constituents – his fellow trial lawyers – at a fundraiser in Texas.

Most of the attention relating to the video has been about his arrogant denigration of Iowa farmers but, amazingly, that may not even be the most disturbing part of the video.

Read Braley’s full comments to his assembled trial lawyer supporters and let them sink in:

“To put this in stark contrast if you help me win this race, you may have someone with your background, your experience, your voice – someone who's been literally fighting tort reform for thirty years in a visible and public way – on the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Or you might have a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law, serving as the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Because if Democrats lose the majority Chuck Grassley will be the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

Although he is running for office to represent Iowa in the United State Senate, in the video Braley openly boasts to out-of-state trial lawyers that if they help him win his election, he will be their voice in the United States Senate, fighting against tort reform and helping them line their pockets at the expense of the rest of us.  And he presents the alternative as well – that if he loses, an Iowa farmer named Chuck Grassley will be in line to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee.

It is a very compelling pitch for the trial lawyers Braley wants to continue representing.

According to the OpenSecrets website that tracks campaign contributions, trial lawyers have sent Braley an astonishing $4.2 million since 2005.  Both this year and in his previous campaigns, his fellow trial lawyers have been by far Braley’s largest source of funds.

And they aren’t done.  Last week, the national trial lawyers lobbying organization send out an urgent fundraising letter for Braley, noting that he had previously been the industry’s top lobbyist in Iowa and now needed their help:

Dear Trial Lawyer Colleague,

One of our own, Bruce Braley, is in the fight of his life to win the Senate seat currently held by Senator Tom Harkin. We are asking you to click here to contribute to this race, this cause, TODAY. There are precious few days left before this critical election and we need everyone in our community to step up now.

As Presidents of the American Association for Justice/ATLA we have all faced critical national elections before. We have seen our share of impossible odds and overwhelming challenges. But never before has an election turned on the race of a former board member, a former President of the Iowa Association for Justice, and a great champion for the rights of your clients.

Or as Braley himself explained it – if they help him win, he’ll be their voice in the Senate, as he has been in the House – where he’s been busy for the last eight years of his 30-year fight against tort reform.

Braley was working hard for his fellow trial lawyers when he blocked tort reform in Obamacare (to the tune of $11 billion a year according to Congressional Budget Office estimates) and helped pass a final version of the bill that actually makes it easier to file abusive lawsuits, a jackpot for trial lawyers at the expense of everyone who has to pay higher premiums.

Bruce Braley was absolutely right that there is a “stark contrast” between his career of being the voice for trial lawyers and Chuck Grassley’s exemplary career of putting Iowa taxpayers first, ferreting out waste fraud and abuse, and serving with honor and distinction.

Voters in Iowa will soon choose to either put Braley on the Senate Judiciary Committee or elevate Grassley to be that committee’s chairman.  If you aren’t a trial lawyer, it’s a pretty easy choice.