Repost from Axios.
A dark money group with ties to Democratic Party heavyweights will spend millions this year to expose and try to disbar more than 100 lawyers who worked on Donald Trump’s post-election lawsuits, people involved with the effort tell Axios.
Why it matters: The 65 Project plans to begin filing complaints this week and will air ads in battleground states. It hopes to deter right-wing legal talent from signing on to any future GOP efforts to overturn elections — including the midterms or 2024.
- The group takes its name from a count of lawsuits that sought to invalidate the 2020 results.
Details: David Brock, who founded Media Matters for America and the super PAC American Bridge 21st Century and is a Hillary Clinton ally and prolific fundraiser for Democrats, is advising the group.
- Advisory board members include former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.); and Paul Rosenzweig, a conservative and member of the Federalist Society who was former senior counsel for Ken Starr’s Clint0n-era Whitewater investigation and served in George W. Bush’s Department of Homeland Security.
- Former Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Christine Durham; and Roberta Ramo, the first woman to serve as president of the American Bar Association, are also members.
- The project was devised by Melissa Moss, a Democratic consultant and former senior Clinton administration official.
The other side: Some of the lawyers targeted describe the tactics as naked political intimidation.
- “This move is nothing more than a desperate attempt by leftist hacks and mercenaries…” Paul Davis, a Texas attorney targeted for his presence at the Capitol on January 6, wrote in an email to Axios.
- He described an effort “…to neutralize anyone on the right with the ability to stand in the way of the left’s efforts to hide malfeasance in the 2020 elections and to clear the path for a repeat of similar malfeasance in the 2022 mid-terms.”
How it works: The 65 Project is targeting 111 attorneys in 26 states who were involved to some degree in efforts to challenge or reverse 2020 election results. They include lawyers at large national law firms with many partners and clients and lawyers at smaller, regional firms.
- It will air ads in battleground states, including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
- It also will push the ABA and every state bar association to codify rules barring certain election challenges and adopt model language stating that “fraudulent and malicious lawsuits to overturn legitimate election results violate the ethical duties lawyers must abide by.”
- It plans to spend about $2.5 million in its first year and will operate through an existing nonprofit called Law Works.
Brock told Axios in an interview that the idea is to “not only bring the grievances in the bar complaints, but shame them and make them toxic in their communities and in their firms.”
- “I think the littler fish are probably more vulnerable to what we’re doing,” Brock said. “You’re threatening their livelihood. And, you know, they’ve got reputations in their local communities.”
What they’re saying: “With great power comes great responsibility. Lawyers have a special role in and special obligation to society,” Rosenzweig told Axios in an email.
- “It is all the worse, then, when they use their special position to attack the foundations of the rule of law.”