Asbestos Lobbying: Everyone's Doing It

The U.S. Senate's "long war over the proposed asbestos-litigation trust fund has given the lobbying industry its biggest contracts and busiest revolving door, bringing a virtual army of ex-leadership aides back to their former bosses' doorsteps." Fortune 500 companies with "more than $75 million in liability to injured workers" have retained 20 firms to promote the bill, in addition to their in-house lobbyists and the National Association of Manufacturers. The Asbestos Study Group, a business coalition, has a $23 million contract with the Democratic lobbying firm Swidler Berlin (and also worked with the now-defunct Republican firm Alexander Strategy Group). Mark Tipps, "former chief of staff and longtime adviser to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist," is lobbying for the bill at Akin Gump. Lobbying against the bill are Patton Boggs, for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, and Fleishman-Hillard, for the Coalition for Asbestos Reform, "a group of smaller businesses."


Veterans lobby for, and sick workers against, Sen. Arlen Specter's bill "to [ halt asbestos lawsuits and create a $140 billion fund] for compensating asbestos victims":

Representatives of veterans' groups told reporters that they cannot sue their former employer - the federal government - over asbestos exposure that happened in military facilities. This, they said, was why they in particular needed a compensation fund. ...

Elsewhere in the Capitol, victims of asbestos-related diseases said they had collected 150,000 signatures, including those of many veterans, against the bill. At a news conference organized by plaintiffs' lawyers, these victims said the fund was designed to write down the liabilities of big companies while discouraging victims from filing claims with complicated exposure requirements.