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THE POLITICS OF EQUAL JUSTICE
trust when he “reasonably expects to incur legal expenses in the course of any investigation, civil, criminal, or other legal proceeding relating to or arising by virtue of his or her service in or to the Senate.”82 The rules permit contributions up to $10,000 from any one source in a fiscal year.83 A lawyer or law firm can provide pro bono legal assistance in excess of the $10,000 limit but if a firm does provide pro bono representation, the only burden that attaches is that for six months following termination of the representation, the law firm cannot lobby the Senator it is assisting.84 No such prohibition, however, applies to lobbying the Senator’s friends down the aisle before the six-month moratorium on lobbying the client expires. 85
On the House side, the House Ethics Manual provides that a member may use campaign funds to defend legal actions arising out of their campaign, election, or performance of their official duties.86 The manual permits “the protection of a member’s reputation and presumption of innocence to be a valid political purpose.”87 Besides the use of campaign funds, the House Ethics Manual allows a member to set up a legal defense fund in the form of a trust.88 The trust cannot accept contributions of more than $250 a year absent a waiver from the Committee on Standards and once a waiver is obtained, contributions cannot exceed $5000 in a single year from any one individual or organization.89 Although legal defense funds are treated differently among the executive branch, the House, and the Senate, what they have in common is that they permit members of Congress and executive branch officials to use other people’s money to secure
Rostenkowski, Nicholas Mavroules, Harold Ford, Wes Cooley, and most recently Gary Condit, along with many other current and former
Aug. 10, 1988, reprinted in 2003 ed., App. I).
See id. at 3.
Id. at 5.
See id. (barring only lobbying of the Senator who has received pro bono
86. Ethics Manual For Members, Officers and Employees of the U.S. House of Representatives, The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, 102d Cong. (2d Sess.) (1992).
Id. at ch. 2.
See Carter, supra note 77, at 153 (listing defense funds created for President
Clinton, numerous Senators and Congressmen).