“In Florida Recount Fight, Democratic Lawyer Draws Plaudits and Fire”

NYT profile of Marc Elias:

Mr. Elias is perhaps best known for his role in helping to deliver a handful of previous recounts to Democrats, including in the bitterly fought two-month battle over a Minnesota Senate election in 2008 that brought victory to Al Franken. But he has also worked mostly behind the scenes for the past decade shaping the laws and regulations governing American politics, from voting access to redistricting to campaign fund-raising and spending.

The work has yielded tens of millions of dollars in legal fees for his firm, Perkins Coie, from corporations, campaigns and political committees. In the process, Mr. Elias has earned a reputation as one of the most formidable election lawyers in the country, and arguably one of the most influential of unelected Democrats in Washington.

He has been a trusted adviser to the party’s most senior leaders in Congress, and is admired by its campaign operatives for his knowledge of the way campaigns work and his willingness to use aggressive, pioneering tactics to help them win elections.

hat approach, however, has earned him the ire of activists who support increased transparency and decreased money in politics. They say he has been among the biggest impediments to both causes, and has often put the short-term interests of the Democratic Party ahead of the interests of the party’s base, and even of American democracy more broadly.

“He’s doing really important work for voting rights that benefits all voters, but he’s also pushed for a deregulation of money in politics that serves the interests of the wealthy,” said Paul S. Ryan, the vice president of policy and litigation for the nonpartisan government watchdog group Common Cause.


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