A Massachusetts law firm has been accused of funneling funds to the Democrats through an massive and illegal straw-donor scheme. A growing number of party politicians are now returning donations from Thornton Law after it was found that the firm’s partners received bonuses that matched their political donations in what may be one of the largest schemes ever revealed.
An investigation found that partners donated nearly $1.6 million to mostly Democratic committees and candidates, including Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, from 2010 through 2014. During that same period, the lawyers received $1.4 million listed as ‘bonuses,’ including more than 280 in amounts that precisely matched their donations.
Some of them were supposedly reimbursed just 10 days after their money was sent to the party.
The small firm, which has 10 partners, reportedly also made donations to several other top Democrats including President Barack Obama, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Harry Reid, to name a few.
This pattern of payments — contributions offset by bonus payments — was commonplace at Thornton, according to a review of law firm records by the Spotlight Team and the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based nonprofit that tracks campaign finance data.
From 2010 through 2014, Strouss and Bradley, along with founding partner Michael Thornton and his wife, donated nearly $1.6 million to Democratic Party fund-raising committees and a parade of politicians — from Senate minority leader Harry Reid of Nevada to Hawaii gubernatorial candidate David Ige to Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Over the same span, the lawyers received $1.4 million listed as “bonuses” in Thornton Law Firm records; more than 280 of the contributions precisely matched bonuses that were paid within 10 days.
That payback system, which involved other partners as well, helped make Thornton the 11th-ranked law firm nationally for political contributions in 2014, according to data analyzed by the center, even though it is not among the 100 largest in Massachusetts.
Thornton, through a spokesman, said its donation reimbursement program was reviewed by outside lawyers and complied with applicable laws. Campaign finance experts said that without reviewing the firm’s records, they cannot say the payback system breaks the law, but that it raises numerous red flags.
Ya think? “You can’t prove it!” is the Clintons’ family motto, but we sure are getting mighty close.