Arkansas Dems hire San Diego's Bill Lerach

We are talking about only $2500

Just another Arkansas Bill In Arkansas, it's always smart to do what the natives do. That seems to be the policy adopted by San Diego's Milberg, Weiss, Bershad, Hynes and Lerach, the lawyers famous for raids on corporate management. The firm's Bill Lerach, who lives in a Rancho Santa Fe mansion, is also renowned for his campaign contributions to Democratic politicians. Last year the firm gave a total of $2500 to Arkansas Attorney General Winston Bryant in his failed bid for the U.S. Senate. Last month, Bryant retained Lerach's firm to handle, on contingency, the state's suit against the tobacco industry. The agreement could be worth millions, the assignment is an easy one, and the timing was just too coincidental for Bryant's critics, but the A.G. denies anything's amiss. "Ours is one of the best contracts I could find out there," Bryant told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. "I talked to most of the representatives of the national law firms, and they all wanted more money." The state's Republicans say they understand. It would be "kind of a stretch" to criticize Bryant for hiring Lerach, said Republican honcho Richard Bearden. "We are talking about only $2500 out of a couple of million." Dawne Vandiver, executive director of the state Democratic Party, agreed that $2500 is "a nice donation but not something that would earn people tons of favors."

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