Corporate restructuring attorneys form fundraising committee for Joe Biden

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, appears at his Super Tuesday night rally in Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 3, 2020.

Mike Blake | Reuters

Top corporate restructuring attorneys are forming a fundraising committee to help Joe Biden’s campaign for president. 

The committee is being organized by Jon Henes, a senior partner at legal juggernaut Kirkland & Ellis, who was Sen. Kamala Harris’ national finance chair before he moved over to Biden’s team after she dropped out, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. These people declined to be named because these moves were yet to be made public. 

At least a dozen legal luminaries have been asked to join, the people added. The invited attorneys and bankers include: Mohsin Meghji, a managing partner at M-III Partners; Steve Zelin, the head of restructuring at investment firm PJT Partners; Ira Dizengoff, a partner at Akin Gump; Pat Nash, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis; and Michael Frishberg, president and chief operating officer at Prime Clerk. 

Companies bring in corporate restructuring attorneys when they need assistance in reorganizing their leadership and operational capacity, or help with handling their debt. Many of these lawyers who are looking to help Biden have represented financial firms on Wall Street, telecommunication companies, manufacturing, real estate and retail, among other industries. 

Henes reached out to potential members last week as scrutiny of President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus crisis intensified and Biden proposed his own methods of dealing with the crisis.

The Trump administration is seeking more than $1 trillion in stimulus to help American companies and families as U.S. markets and businesses continue to struggle. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell nearly 1,500 points at one point Wednesday

“With the current pandemic, the incompetent leadership of the President and the adverse impact to the economy, we, as senior members of the corporate restructuring community, should join forces to support Joe Biden,” Henes wrote to the attorneys, according to an email obtained by CNBC. “The responsibilities are simple – send around links to raise money and reach out to friends, family and colleagues to let them know Joe needs their support.” 

Members of the committee have been in touch with the campaign and the goal is to raise over $1 million over the coming months, one of the people added. Biden’s campaign has cut back in-person fundraisers and is conducting virtual fundraising events but donors have been continuing to assist in raising money for his operation either by phone or email. 

The Biden campaign and all of the attorneys mentioned in this story did not return requests for comment. 

Corporate restructure attorneys could be key economic policy advisors for Biden’s campaign if he captures the nomination, especially since wide swaths of the economy are likely to experience protracted pain and even devastation during the coronavirus spread and aftermath.

James Millstein, who was the Chief Restructuring Officer at the U.S. Department of the Treasury under President Barack Obama, was previously a top donor to his campaign and became a member of Obama’s transition team after he won the election in 2008, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. 

Biden appears to be on track to becoming the Democratic nominee for president. Bundlers loyal to him have already started to help the campaign create a national fundraising machine with the hope that it will be able to take on Trump’s own donor juggernaut. The Trump campaign, combined with the Republican National Committee and their joint fundraising committee, raised over $86 million in the month of February. 

Biden has been seeing a major bump in fundraising since he started his dominant run against Sen Bernie Sanders with the South Carolina primary Feb. 29. Then, after picking up victories in the delegate-rich primary states that vote on Super Tuesday, the former vice president said he raised over $22 million in five days. While Sanders was projected to win the biggest delegate prize of all, California, Biden has racked up wins in places like North Carolina, Virginia, Michigan, Texas and Illinois. 

Sanders, meanwhile, is assessing whether to continue running after losing three more primary states to Biden on Tuesday, including Florida. 

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