GOP Senate hopeful scrubs mentions of his ties to conservative law firm
Republican Adam Laxalt joined Cooper & Kirk, PLLC, which has represented numerous clients suing the federal government, after a failed 2018 gubernatorial bid.
Republican Senate hopeful Adam Laxalt earned millions of dollars in 2020 as a partner at a prominent conservative law firm that has boasted of its victories suing the federal government. But since announcing his candidacy in August, he appears to have scrubbed any mention of the job from his social media and campaign website.
After his losing his 2018 Nevada gubernatorial bid, Laxalt, a former state attorney general, joined Cooper & Kirk, PLLC. In a tweet in March 2019, he said he would be “based in Reno with an office in Las Vegas and DC.”
According to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, Laxalt’s 2022 campaign biography initially said, “Today, Laxalt serves as a partner at Cooper & Kirk, PLLC and works and resides in Reno, Nevada with his wife, Jaime, their daughters Sophia and Isabella, their son Jack, and their dog, Buckley.” His Twitter bio identified him as a partner at the D.C.-based firm.
By Aug. 27, the campaign site no longer included any mention of the law firm, instead noting only that he “resides in Reno” with his family and pet. His Twitter profile also dropped any mention of Cooper & Kirk.
It is unclear whether he actually left the position. But the law firm’s own “about us” page, as of Monday, brags, “One of our partners, Adam P. Laxalt, recently served as Attorney General of the State of Nevada,” and his personal financial disclosure statement, filed on Dec. 13, indicates that the partner position was current at the time.
The disclosure also noted that Laxalt received $2,283,592.13 last year in “partnership distributions” and that he is also owed “continuing fees for services performed while a member of Cooper & Kirk,” even after he departs, under the terms of his agreement with the firm.
Neither the firm nor Laxalt’s campaign immediately responded to inquiries for this story.
Cooper & Kirk’s website, in a carousel on its home page, cites a Legal Times quote calling it “the top choice for plaintiffs who want to sue the federal government.”
Its client list indicates a long record of opposing federal government action to protect the public and frequent work with controversial interest groups.
The fossil fuel industry
According the firm’s list of trial and appellate victories, it represented Shell Oil, Unocal, Atlantic Richfield Co., and Chevron-Texaco in a 2017 case against the federal government, seeking “compensation for environmental remediation costs” related to World War II contracts. A named partner’s biography notes current representation of “subsidies of Chevron Corporation in a suit in the Court of Federal Claims asserting that the United States must indemnify them for tens of millions of dollars environmental cleanup costs incurred at three different Oil Refineries.”
While it is unclear whether Laxalt had any involvement with fossil fuel cases or others, as a candidate he has already attacked President Joe Biden’s efforts to address climate change, accusing him of having “crippled our domestic energy production” and falsely blaming him for higher gasoline prices. Laxalt also opposed Biden’s Build Back Better bill, which would have invested $555 billion in clean energy and climate change infrastructure, as a “radical agenda.”
The firm’s intellectual property practice boasts of having “represented Eli Lilly in its effort to retain its patent on the drug Prozac” in 2000.
Laxalt has refused to back Democratic efforts to allow Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices. As he and his wife own more than $67,000 worth of pharmaceutical stocks, such legislation could potentially hurt not only industry profits but his own pocketbook.
The gun lobby
Cooper & Kirk has represented the National Rifle Association, the Illinois Association of Firearms Retailers, and other gun rights advocates in challenges to gun violence laws and campaign finance regulations.
While Laxalt’s campaign site includes no issues page, it does highlight him as a “Second Amendment Defender” who has opposed extreme risk protection orders, sued San Francisco over its gun safety rules, and fought against “unnecessary background checks” for gun purchasers.
The casino gaming industry
The firm reported $150,000 received in 2017 for federal lobbying on behalf of the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, a group bankrolled by the late billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, in its efforts to eliminate online competition for the casino gambling industry. As of May 2019, the firm reportedly was still representing the group.
During his tenure as Nevada attorney general, Laxalt came under fire for allegedly attempting to use his office to aid Adelson’s businesses after the Adelson family helped bankroll his campaigns and political action committee. Laxalt has denied wrongdoing, saying in a statement to the Nevada Independent at the time that he was conducting routine business matters.
“The Attorney General’s Office was approached by the Sands Corporation asking us to file an amicus brief about NRS 463 — a statute that protects the confidentiality of documents submitted to the Gaming Control Board,” he said. “This matter was handled just like other issues I encounter on a daily basis, and, as is often the case, this matter was resolved according to client preferences.”
State lawmakers trying to block Medicaid expansion
In 2017, Cooper & Kirk represented the GOP-controlled North Carolina Legislature in its successful efforts to block Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper from expanding Medicaid. This left an estimated 620,000-plus people in the state unable to qualify for health insurance.
While Laxalt said in 2018 that he would not would not attempt to roll back Nevada’s Medicaid expansion, he did denounce the Affordable Care Act’s “disastrous effects” and pushed to add new work requirements for its lower-income beneficiaries in the state.
State lawmakers trying to block voting rights
The firm represented the Republican-controlled Virginia Legislature in 2016 as it sought to stop then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) from restoring voting rights to those previously convicted of felonies who had completed their sentences.
As co-chair of former President Donald Trump’s unsuccessful 2020 reelection campaign, Laxalt made multiple attempts to overturn the election results and lost lawsuits that sought to throw out votes, all while pushing various false claims of voter fraud.
Other Cooper & Kirk clients have included payday lenders and for-profit prisons.
Though several other Nevada Republican candidates have announced that they too will seek the Senate nomination, Trump and others in the national GOP establishment have endorsed Laxalt.
The GOP nominee will likely face off with Democratic incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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