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Monday, October 18, 2010

DioGuardi's Attorney Desecration

Tonight, a member of one honorable profession smeared a U.S. Senator -- and a member of another profession -- on the basis of her profession and employment in a large Manhattan law firm.

Republican challenger and former Congressman Joseph DioGuardi tried to tar and feather Senator Kristi Gillibrand for "defending" the "tobacco" interests on the sole basis that she was an attorney at the Davis, Polk & Wardwell law firm, which firm -- among many others in the nation -- has done legal work for the Philip Morris corporate conglomerate.

This is an unwarranted smear against lawyers. Big firms handle a variety of legal work for all sorts of clients. Work on one type of matter does not mean that one is working on "defending" that same client's disapproved practices in another arena. Far from it.

There is no evidence that Gillibrand has been involved in defending tobacco companies regarding the health effects of their primary product. There is also nothing wrong with defending a corporate client or assisting it -- and hy extension, its shareholders -- in asserting its rights.

The ad hominem attack on lawyers conveys a dangerous, and unAmerican message: The unpopular have no rights. Such a message would be abhorrent to John Adams (who defended the redcoats who were shooters in the Boston Massacre) and the Founding Fathers.

Besides, DioGuardi boasts of his own background as a CPA at Arthur Andersen. Perhaps DioGuardi should be mindful of that firm's involvement as auditor for the infamous Enron Corporation. Andersen was driven out of business by the federal government's criminal indictment of the firm. How many innocent men and women lost their jobs, pensions and careers?

DioGuardi and other politicians should be aware of the innocent people they smear, in their professional envy and ambitious zeal to win elections.

Eric Dixon is a New York small business and investigative lawyer. He can be reached at 917-696-2442 and at

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