Texas Legislation Agency Touting Abortion Help Backs Governors Urging Bans

The biggest regulation agency in Texas, Vinson & Elkins, is pledging to cowl its staff’ journey bills for reproductive medical care after contributing to the campaigns for 2 Republican governors pushing strict restrictions on abortion.

The Houston-founded agency’s political motion committee has given Texas Gov. Greg Abbott $65,000 within the final two years, in response to state filings. The agency’s PAC donated on to Abbott’s marketing campaign and to PACs related to the governor, who faces a tightening re-election race in November.

Vinson & Elkins mentioned within the aftermath of the US Supreme Court docket’s determination to overturn Roe v. Wade that it could cowl the price of staff’ out-of-state journey for abortions. That features in Texas, the place a brand new state regulation signed by Abbott largely banned abortions and targets those that help residents in having access to the medical service.

The agency additionally contributed $20,000 to Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin in his profitable bid for governor in 2021. Youngkin has mentioned he desires to cross a regulation banning abortions after 15 weeks of being pregnant.

That leaves Vinson & Elkins in an more and more widespread spot for giant companies which have lengthy sought to stay apolitical: on each ends of a hot-button subject that has potential penalties for its staff and its purchasers.

“The problem is if you get to some basic points like human rights,” mentioned Kent Zimmermann, a regulation agency guide. “There’s a query of whether or not corporations and regulation companies can play each side efficiently. Corporations and regulation companies are in a really tough place on that.”

Vinson & Elkins, via a spokesman, declined to touch upon political contributions.

At the least 1 / 4 of the nation’s 100 largest regulation companies have mentioned they may cowl reproductive well being journey prices for workers in states the place new abortion restrictions are going into impact. A slew of main firms has additionally made related pledges.

Vinson & Elkins has 12 places of work, together with three outposts in Texas and one in Richmond, Va. The agency reported greater than $912 million in gross income and $3.5 million in common income per fairness companion final 12 months, in response to information complied by the American Lawyer.

The agency “will, as a part of its well being plan, present a journey profit for lined well being care companies which might be unavailable regionally,” a spokesman mentioned.

The transfer displays the “rising recognition” amongst companies that taking a stance on social points presents a aggressive benefit in retaining purchasers and legal professionals, particularly these from youthful generations, in response to Zimmermann.

The contributions to Abbott and Youngkin spotlight the dueling pursuits at play. The agency has given cash to candidates on each side of the aisle, together with Sylvester Turner, Houston’s Democrat mayor.

Texas Heavyweights for Abbott

Vinson & Elkins shouldn’t be not like a few of its regulation agency friends in relation to political spending in Texas, a state lengthy managed by Republicans.

Jackson Walker, Norton Rose and Hunton Andrews Kurth, all of which have massive Texas places of work, have donated various sums to Abbott and different Texas candidates. Baker Botts, one other giant Texas agency, has centered its PAC spending largely on candidates for state court docket choose seats.

None of these companies have mentioned publicly whether or not they may comply with Vinson’s lead in masking journey bills for out-of-state abortions.

“For a big regulation agency that may have vital pursuits earlier than the state, with the state, and or in courts, a big political contribution if nothing else buys a specific amount of entry if and when it’s wanted,” mentioned Joshua M. Clean, the director of analysis for the Texas Politics Venture on the College of Texas at Austin. “It doesn’t assure an final result. However, these regulation companies can justify this as a part of the service they supply to purchasers.”

Hunton has donated $165,000 apiece to Abbott and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) since 2015, in response to information from Transparency USA, a non-partisan group monitoring political spending on the state degree. Norton Rose’s PAC has donated $150,000 to Abbott since 2015, whereas Jackson Walker has contributed $20,000 to the governor.

Vinson & Elkins has donated $137,500 to Abbott over the identical time.

Not one of the agency PACs seem to have made marketing campaign contributions to Beto O’Rourke, the El Paso Democrat difficult Abbott within the November election. Abbott holds a six-point lead over O’Rourke amongst doubtless voters, down from an 11-point margin in April, in response to a June ballot by the College of Texas.

The state has not had a Democrat governor in practically three many years.

Abbott’s workplace didn’t reply to a request for touch upon the regulation agency and different employers’ guarantees to cowl journey out of the state to obtain abortions.

Life Past Lone Star

Based in 1917 throughout an oil increase, Vinson & Elkins has constructed a status as a strong Texas regulation agency with a outstanding power apply.

The agency extra lately has pushed to determine itself as a viable participant past the Lone Star State. It doubled its headcount in New York—the place two of its 4 prime executives are primarily based—during the last 5 years to greater than 100 legal professionals. Vinson & Elkins additionally has places of work in California, Washington, London and Tokyo, amongst different places.

The agency’s leaders mentioned in a March interview that they wish to develop to 1,000 legal professionals, which might signify a greater than 40% enhance in headcount. They’ll strive to do this in a recruiting market wherein legal professionals have extra mobility than ever earlier than and more and more wish to know what companies stand for, in response to Zimmermann.

“Gifted legal professionals that may apply wherever, extra of them are going to gravitate to locations the place they wish to stay and extra of them are going to wish to stay the place there’s extra human rights than much less,” he mentioned.

Meghan Tribe contributed to the report.

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