More calls for a probe of Thornton law firm’s political donations


The Campaign Legal Center, a Washington-based election watchdog organization, filed a formal complaint against Thornton and three of its lawyers with federal regulators, arguing the attorneys illegally acted as “straw donors” for the law firm, which gave the lawyers “bonuses” that offset their donations.

The 11-page complaint from the Campaign Legal Center argues that both the Thornton lawyers and the Thornton Law Firm violated federal election law. Giving the lawyers offsetting bonuses for their political donations was a way to hide the fact that the law firm was giving the money, the center argued, allowing the firm to greatly exceed campaign donation limits.

Thornton Law Firm “misled the public . . . about the true sources of support for those candidates and political committees,” according to the complaint.

The complaint also casts doubt on the law firm’s explanation that its system was legal because it deducted the reimbursements from each partner’s capital account — representing his equity in the firm. Under this system, each lawyer would have to settle the account when he or she left the firm, repaying any outstanding bonuses.

The firm’s explanation is “not credible,” the Campaign Legal Center complaint maintains.