In an undated online profile of Langdon, the Alliance Defending Freedom said Langdon and his then-law partner, Jeff Shafer, who now works for the organization, litigated nearly 50 cases in three weeks, fending off attempts to knock the amendment from the ballot.
Voters approved the amendment, though a high-profile case challenging its legality is now before the Supreme Court. And Bush narrowly won Ohio, a critical victory that clinched his second term.
Burress points to that battle as the one that made Langdon’s name. “Rightly or wrongly, the marriage amendment was given credit in 2004 for Bush winning Ohio, and David was the attorney who made that happen,” Burress said.
Several of the groups linked to Langdon declined to talk about his work for them or how they found him. Burress, though, said he recommended Langdon to around 40 groups who work on similar types of issues, including CitizenLink, the advocacy arm of Focus on the Family. Burress also said Citizens for Community Values still works with Langdon.
The Alliance Defending Freedom profile described Langdon as “one of the great veterans of the ministry’s war to defend marriage.” It said Langdon works with groups around the country on corporate, tax and regulatory issues and to “promote stricter government regulation of sexually oriented businesses.”
Elected officials have also sought Langdon’s counsel.
From 2005 until 2007, Langdon represented then-Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell on election matters, including lawsuits related to voting machines and ballot access, and helped develop election law policy, according to his firm biography.
Monty Lobb, Blackwell’s then-general counsel and chief of staff, said in an interview that he didn’t remember exactly how Langdon came to his attention, but they ran in the same conservative circles. The lawyer impressed him as a “bulldog” capable of providing detailed analysis of complex issues.
Lobb said he appreciated that he and Langdon shared a common conservative Christian worldview, and he recommended him to Blackwell for an outside counsel job.
Now a professor at Ohio Christian University in Circleville, Ohio, Lobb said Langdon delivered as promised and on budget. Once, he said, Langdon had promised to update him on a specific day, but the two wound up playing an epic game of phone tag.
“He still made a point of trying to reach me and follow through at 11 o’clock at night,” Lobb remembered. “I don’t think it was anything earthshattering. That’s the kind of stuff that sticks with you. He could have waited until the next day and been fine with me.”
In 2006, when Blackwell, a favorite of social conservatives, ran for governor, Langdon helped him select his running mate. He also wrote another ballot initiative for a constitutional amendment, this one on curbing government spending, on behalf of a group of which Blackwell was the honorary chairman.
“He was competent, he’s principled, and I never had any bad experience when I worked with him,” said Blackwell, who said he hasn’t spoken to Langdon in more than three years but wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him.
James, the Freedom Ohio activist, said he and Langdon actually worked together nearly a decade ago on a ballot referendum issue — the only time, he said, the two have found themselves on the same side of an issue.
“I found him to be likable,” he said. “I thought he was very smart; I thought he was very strategic. For what it was, I thought he had a good sense of humor.”
Still, he said, “It was very odd when he and I were on the phone together.”
Burress said he doesn’t know everyone on Langdon’s current client list and can’t speak to the origin of the money going into elections.
But, “if I saw his client list I could probably tell you there’s no one who represents or thinks differently than we do here,” he said. “His values are strong, and he’s not going to cross over it for money.”
Burress said he’s currently working with Langdon on a project, but wouldn’t provide additional information.
When asked whether he might work with Langdon on anything to do with Portman’s re-election bid, Burress replied, “I’m not going to discuss any of that.”
Langdon isn’t going to, either.
Langdon did not return telephone calls requesting an interview. When a Center for Public Integrity reporter knocked on the door of his Cincinnati house, Langdon told her to leave.
“You’re not welcome here,” he said, calling approaching him at his home “unbelievably unprofessional.”