An elite law firm known for representing disgraced Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein and Al Gore's presidential campaign accepted up to $10 million in federal coronavirus aid, data released by the Small Business Administration show.
Boies Schiller Flexner, a white-shoe firm founded by former Al Gore lawyer David Boies, applied for and obtained between $5 and $10 million through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the federal program aimed to support small businesses hurt by the pandemic. Boies Schiller Flexner earned more than $400 million in gross revenue in 2019, making it one of the highest-grossing law firms in the world, according to The American Lawyer. The multinational firm's partners took home more than $3.3 million on average in 2019, but it still capitalized on the taxpayer bailout that was designed to help mom-and-pop shops.
Boies Schiller Flexner, which claimed that the loan was necessary to save 490 jobs, declined an interview request, saying it does not "comment on our financials."
The law firm has been a major player in Democratic political circles since Boies represented Gore in the Supreme Court's landmark Bush v. Gore case in 2000. Its employees have already donated about $300,000 to Democratic candidates—more than 99 percent of its total contributions—in the 2020 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. More than $40,000 has gone to presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, as well as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), and Sen. Doug Jones (D., Ala.), among other Senate and congressional Democratic hopefuls. Firm employees also helped Democrats take control of the House of Representatives during the midterm elections, contributing more than $430,000 to liberal candidates.
The firm received the forgivable loan on April 28, weeks after the PPP program exhausted its initial $350 billion funding. It is now the latest high-profile entity to receive scrutiny after accepting small-business relief. While restaurant chain Shake Shack and news site Axios returned their loans following widespread criticism, some recipients have refused. Sidwell Friends School—a top D.C. prep school with a $50 million endowment—refused to return its $5.2 million PPP loan amid pushback in May.
Boies is best known for representing Weinstein against allegations of sexual assault, as well as Gore in his 2000 Florida recount dispute against former president George W. Bush. He has also represented fraudulent blood-testing startup Theranos and served on the company's board.