Monday, June 30, 2008

Pith in the Waller

Posted by on Mon, Jun 30, 2008 at 12:14 PM

And another thing about our favorite law firm, Waller Lansden Dorch & Davis. Remember the Erin Brockovich movie and all those corporate lawyers who were so obnoxious? Well, meet Michael K. Stagg, a Waller Lansden partner and the treasurer for Mike Stewart’s supposedly Democratic campaign for the state House. As leader of the firm’s Environmental and Toxic Tort litigation group, the capable Mr. Stagg specializes in helping corporations get away with poisoning the environment, successfully defending polluters of the air and water against all those pesky citizen lawsuits. Did your company lose track of a few PCBs? No problem. No pollution is too toxic for this Waller Lansden man. From the firm's website:
He represented a major electric power producer in a Clean Air Act New Source Review enforcement action brought by EPA, and a large manufacturer against challenges brought by citizens alleging violations of various Clean Air Act permitting requirements. He also represents manufacturers and other commercial entities in toxic tort lawsuits alleging that the companies’ negligence caused personal and property damage. Mr. Stagg has defended private and public utilities that supply drinking water in Tennessee and California against lawsuits that alleged the companies served contaminated drinking water, contributed to the degradation of groundwater quality and quantity, and caused injuries to persons and property. Mr. Stagg represented a natural gas transmission company in a PCB personal injury lawsuit in which the U.S. Supreme Court eventually denied certiorari in favor of the company.
This may come as a surprise to loyal supporters of Stewart, himself a Waller Lansden tax attorney running in a heavily Democratic district, but Stagg also has contributed to Republicans—$250 to Bob Corker in 2006 and $450 to the state GOP the same year. All of which begs the question: Why is he Stewart’s campaign treasurer? As we reported in last week's Scene, Stewart says he’ll resign from Waller Lansden, stop representing corporations trying to dodge state taxes, and magically become a completely independent state representative if he’s elected. But that hasn't stopped us from wondering here at Pith in the Waller, if you earn your living by gleefully violating Democratic Party principles (or associate closely with those who do, taking contributions from them and making one of them your campaign treasurer), can you still call yourself a Democrat? Update: Sean Braisted thinks it's OK for Democrats to whore down for polluters.

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