Gillibrand Spent Years Defending Big Tobacco

As a young lawyer, NY senator worked for Phillip Morris
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2009 7:11 AM CDT
In this Jan. 28 file photo, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., listens to testimony on Capitol Hill in Washington during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
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(Newser) – Kirsten Gillibrand, Hillary Clinton’s Senate successor, spent years as a Phillip Morris lawyer involved in some of its most sensitive cases in the 1990s, the New York Times reports. As a junior lawyer, Gillibrand helped fend off a federal perjury investigation against the tobacco giant, fighting off prosecution demands for company research showing a smoking-cancer link. Gillibrand is reluctant to discuss her work there, citing attorney-client privilege, and a spokesman says it's just a small part of her legal career.

But documents and interviews indicate that Gillibrand was a trusted and eager participant, eventually overseeing a team of associates working on Phillip Morris cases. She was picked as her firm’s representative on a Phillip Morris panel, serving alongside the country’s top tobacco lawyers. “The client was always in her office,” said one former colleague. “She was probably accorded more responsibility than the average associate by far.”