Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), one of the quirkiest and most liberal members of the House Democratic caucus, is in the headlines again, this time for suing the food providers of the Longworth House Office Building.
In a recently filed lawsuit demanding $150,000, Kucinich alleges a sandwich wrap he purchased was "unwholesome and unfit for human consumption," because it contained an olive pit. After biting into the olive pit, the lawsuit states Kucinich "sustained serious and permanent dental and oral injuries requiring multiple surgical and dental procedures."
Kucinich himself has found common cause with tort attorneys before.
Since the 1996 election cycle -- when he was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives -- Kucinich has collected $57,500 from the political action committee of the American Association for Justice, formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. That amount ranks him among the top beneficiaries of the Ohio delegation.
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Over his career, Kucinich has collected more than $380,000 from all PACs and individual employees of law firms -- making the legal industry his No. 3 all-time industry backer, behind Democratic/liberal ideological interests and retirees.
Thanks to a national following, Kucinich also ranks among the members of Congress to collect the most money from small-dollar donors.
According to research by the Center for Responsive Politics, more than 50 percent of Kucinich's campaign cash during the 2010 election cycle came from "small donors" -- individuals giving $200 or less, the threshold set by the Federal Election Commission for itemized accounting of such receipts. That's $538,300 out of $965,100 raised during the past two years alone.
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Twice in the last decade, Kucinich has run long-shot bids for the U.S. presidency based on his anti-war views, which has led to national prominence. As a member of Congress, he has promoted a U.S. Department of Peace, and he was one of a handful of Democratic lawmakers to oppose the entry of the United States into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Notably, one of the four defendants targeted by Kucinich's olive pit lawsuit also has its own campaign-related history.
Senior-level executives of food supplier Performance Food Group have donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates and committees over the years, the Center's research shows. Among the executive's favored beneficiaries: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) and the Republican Party of Virginia.