Debate Night At Kirkland & Ellis

kirkland ellis logo.JPGPundits and news junkies aren’t the only people talking about presidential politics these days. Some attorneys want to add their two cents as well.

We saw earlier what happened when Orrick attorneys used the firm-wide email list to espouse political views. But Jack Levin, a partner at K&E Chicago, apparently felt that he had learned from the Orrick situation. He sent around what can only be described as a partner’s version of a “HTH” firm-wide email:

From: Jack Levin

Sent: 10/07/2008 03:31 PM CDT

To: #FW Attorneys

Subject: Federal income taxes

In case clients ask you about likely tax policy for high-income folks should Obama be elected, I briefly summarize below Obama’s tax positions(announced 8/14/08) with respect to income tax on high end folks.

This memo is not intended to solicit votes or contributions to any particular candidate, but simply to permit you to converse knowledgeably with clients about Obama tax positions:

* Individual long-term capital gain (“LTCG”) top rate 20%, same as under President Bill Clinton.

* Individual dividend income top rate 20%, same as LTCG, lower than Clinton administration when dividends were taxed at ordinary income (“OI”) rates up to 39.6%.

* Individual OItop rate 39.6%, same as under President Clinton.

* Social security(FICA) payroll tax — currently imposed on individual’s compensation up to $102,000 per year (which amount increases slightly each year with inflation) at 12.4% rate (half on employer and half on employee) — Obama proposes no change for a decade and then (if necessary to save social security system) tax between 2% and 4% (half on employer and half on employee) on individual’s compensation in excess of $250,000 per year.


Is this useful information that the whole firm needs to know?

Mr. Levin failed to remind his K&E colleagues that he had previously been outed by Law.com as an Obama tax policy adviser:

At Kirkland, appellate and litigation head Christopher Landau is a member of McCain’s Justice Advisory Committee, while partner Jack Levin advises Obama on tax policy and Jewish community relations.

Reaction pours in from around the firm after the jump.

Obama smoking.JPGFirst, Chicago partner John Hickey took the bait:

In sum, taxes will be lower under President McCain.

Well, if we are assuming intentions are pure, Hickey’s message can still be called “analysis.” But then Chicago partner Richard Porter “took it there.”

In other words, if you actually believe Obama, Pelosi and Reid will implement this plan, everyone receiving this email will pay higher taxes under Obama than McCain….

But remember, these emails were sent to the whole firm. It wasn’t too long before New York weighed in, this time in the form of partner Adrian van Schie:

I guess like everything else, when it comes to Govt you get what you pay for

One tipster gave us some back story about van Schie:

[I]t helps to know that the NY office is ridiculously liberal, whereas the Chicago office is, well, not. The partner who sent the “you get what you pay for” e-mail is from New Zealand and a raging liberal.

Could this be the birth of the Ragin’ Kiwi?

A scant 15 minutes before last night’s debate, Carter Emerson — of counsel in the Chicago office — tried to put an end to the political shenanigans:

For a smart guy this is a dopy thing to to do . You unfortunately just made a fool of yourself. Don’t use the K&E email for political purposes.

Did Jack Levin use K&E email for political purposes? Or is there a chance that K&E clients have actually asked about Obama’s tax policy?

There’s only a month to go before the election. Maybe after it’s over partners can go back to talking about religion and sex over firm-wide email. Isn’t that why Al Gore invented the internet in the first place?

Earlier: Orrick’s Internal Battle Over Proposition 8

(hidden for your protection)

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