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Fein Accuses Rand Paul of Stealing His Legal Work

Ooh boy, sparks are flying. Rand Paul filed his anticipated class action lawsuit against the NSA over its data mining programs, but Bruce Fein, the absolutely brilliant attorney who served in the Reagan DOJ, is accusing him of stealing his legal work without paying him.

Since December, the libertarian lawmaker, a tea party favorite, had been working with former Reagan administration lawyer Bruce Fein to draft a class-action suit seeking to have the National Security Agency’s surveillance of telephone data declared unconstitutional; the two men appeared together as early as last June to denounce the NSA’s activities.

But when Paul filed his suit at the U.S. District Court in Washington on Wednesday morning, Fein’s name had been replaced with that of Ken Cuccinelli, the failed Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia who until last month had been the state’s attorney general. Cuccinelli has never argued a case in that courthouse, and he isn’t even a member of the D.C. bar (he also filed a motion Wednesday seeking an exception to allow him to argue this case in D.C.). But he is, like Paul, a tea party darling.

Fein, who has not been paid in full for his legal work by Paul’s political action committee, was furious that he had been omitted from the filing he wrote. “I am aghast and shocked by Ken Cuccinelli’s behavior and his absolute knowledge that this entire complaint was the work product, intellectual property and legal genius of Bruce Fein,” Mattie Fein, his ex-wife and spokeswoman, told me Wednesday. “Ken Cuccinelli stole the suit,” she said, adding that Paul, who “already has one plagiarism issue, now has a lawyer who just takes another lawyer’s work product.”…

The unceremonious jettisoning of a constitutional lawyer in favor of the man best known for his unsuccessful suit to have Obamacare declared unconstitutional suggests that Paul’s legal action has more to do with politics than the law. And there are other clues. In Fein’s version, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) was listed as a plaintiff along with Paul, but in the final complaint the Democrat was gone and the tea party group FreedomWorks was added in his place. Both suits list as defendants the director of national intelligence, the FBI director and the director of the NSA, but Fein’s version had named the defense secretary and the attorney general. Cuccinelli’s version dropped those two — but added President Obama as a defendant, an incendiary change.

Paul’s suit is purely political, that’s quite obvious. And if he thinks he has a better chance of winning with Cuccinelli than with Fein, he’s out of his mind. Fein called Cuccinelli “dumb as a box of rocks” and that may be understating the case.

Comments

  1. says

    “dumb as a box of rocks”
    .
    That expression always makes me grin, but when I think about it, it occurs to me that unlike a person like Cuccinelli, a box of rocks actually provides a lot of interesting information; that is, geologic history, perhaps some fossils, and perhaps even indications of human activitiy.
    .
    I’ll take the box of rocks, please.

    —-

    When we had a stone wall built in our back yard some years ago, one of the large stones intended for the wall fell and broke neatly into two flat pieces. We were delighted to find an array of fossils of shells, and ripple marks, and other indications that the stone had started as sediment. It is a lovely piece that we treasure.

  2. says

    Hmmm… Stolen intellectual property and failure to pay people for work…

    It’s amazing how many outspoken proponents of unregulated free markets seem intent in demonstrating through their actions why regulations are necessary.

  3. Nick Gotts says

    Presumably the NSA will be able to provide transcripts of any telephone or online exchanges between those involved if Fein wants to sue.

  4. raven says

    Rand Paul does have one saving property.

    He doesn’t seem too bright.

    Much of what he says is just dumb. Lately he has been going on about Bill Clinton and his brief fling with an intern and somehow linking this with…Hillary Clinton. Who was the victim here as much as there was a victim.

    It doesn’t have anything to do with Hillary. And who cares anyway? Clinton has been out of office for 14 years. And was one of our better presidents. He left us with a roaring economy and a budget surplus for Bush to turn into a massive deficit.

  5. says

    It’s unfortunate. I would actually support such a suit against the NSA in principle, but Paul has to make it all about attacking Obama, which just ends up muddying the issue.

  6. says

    This is typical libertarian behavior: bring utter disgrace to a cause by hijacking it — then pretend they’re the sole champions of the cause when everyone else either bails out in embarrassment or gets disrespectfully sidelined or forced out. I’m betting it takes less than a month for Rand Paul and his followers to start saying he initiated the lawsuit with no one else’s help.

  7. colnago80 says

    Re #7

    Didn’t take the Fairfax fumbler long to show up with a rant against libertarians. The fact is that Rand Paul, like his Paul pere is not a libertarian.

  8. says

    ““I am aghast and shocked by Ken Cuccinelli’s behavior and his absolute knowledge that this entire complaint was the work product, intellectual property and legal genius of Bruce Fein,”

    I am aghast and shocked by the shade of purple in his prose, “legal genius”, really?

    @8:

    I agree that neither of them is anything like a “classic libertarian”, they are both quite happy to appear as one when it suits them. They’re both hucksters and opportunistic fuckbags–normal, 21st century republicans, iow.

  9. says

    Yeah, they’re both extreme backward Republicans who use whatever label suits them on a given day — but they support the same right-wing anti-government, anti-progress mindset regardless. That’s how the libertarian scam works.

  10. David C Brayton says

    Hmmm….if he (Fein) drafted the lawsuit at the behest of his client (Paul), the papers probably belong to client regardless of whether Paul has yet paid for the services. Certainly Fein would have a case against Paul for non-payment. But to say that the attorney’s work product doesn’t transfer to the client except upon payment is wrong.

    On a related note, I’m rather shocked and aghast that Fein would air such a grievance publicly. He is Paul’s attorney, a person that has legal and ethical obligations to his clients. Personally, I would never, ever do such a thing to one of my clients.

  11. Wylann says

    Didn’t take the Fairfax fumbler long to show up with a rant against libertarians. The fact is that Rand Paul, like his Paul pere is not a libertarian.
    How many times does the ‘No True Scotsman’ fallacy have to be pointed out before idiots stop using it?

  12. says

    Paul’s suit is purely political, that’s quite obvious. And if he thinks he has a better chance of winning with Cuccinelli than with Fein, he’s out of his mind. Fein called Cuccinelli “dumb as a box of rocks” and that may be understating the case.

    So, like the proverbial stopped clock, they are right for a brief moment (suing over the NSA program) but still entirely wrong.

    The Right have become more and more incompetent, thanks to the Tea Party push for ideological purity. If anybody suffers from “political correctness,” it’s the Tea Party — it’s just not the same PC that they’ve been whining about for years. Politics is supposed to be a game of compromise — the “art of the possible.” The TP don’t care about “possible,” just about purity.

  13. says

    @ 8

    Ah, a “no true libertarian” argument. Help me here — what is the single, agreed-upon definition of a “libertarian” so that we can apply those criteria to the Pauls?

  14. laplanck says

    One small problem with this story: per MSNBC, Bruce Fein says he’s been paid:

    The attorney who helped Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul prepare a lawsuit against the National Security Agency and complained in private emails about the way he was treated, now says the issue has been resolved.

    “There are speed bumps in any journey, but I am satisfied,” Bruce Fein, the conservative attorney who helped draft Paul’s class action lawsuit against the NSA, said. “I am ready to move forward.”

  15. laplanck says

    Regarding my previous comment @16: instead of “been paid,” it should have said, “appears to be fine with how things went.”

  16. colnago80 says

    Re David C. Brayton @ #12

    As near as I can figure out, it appears that the individual who publicly complained was Fein’s former wife. not Fein himself.

  17. AsqJames says

    I realise this is nitpicking, but it’s a little pet peeve of mine…wasn’t the lawsuit ALWAYS political (i.e. it related to how the nation is run, what the government can/can’t, does/doesn’t, should/shouldn’t do)? The changes Paul has made to the original suit turn it from political to partisan.

  18. Pierce R. Butler says

    Fein family values! How often, since the former Frau Einstein, does an ex-wife call her ex-husband a genius?

  19. Mr Ed says

    Nineteen eighty three Andy Kaufman is have career troubles and invents a new character “Rand” for an Aqua Budda sketch. The sketch works to some degree and Andy decides to become Rand full time. The character grows as a conservative/libertarian always with a streak of plagiarism. Far surpassing Andy’s wildest dreams the performance art character gets elected to the US Senate. After starting in the Senate Andy becomes afraid of how powerful his character is getting and decides to sabotage Rand by doing more and frequent acts of plagiarism. Unfortunately for Andy the more absurd the antics of the Rand character the more dedicate his followers become.

  20. says

    @David C. Brayton:

    I won’t argue with a lawyer, but I’ve written contracts with clients that say they own the rights to photos I’ve taken for them, as soon as the check clears the bank. It’s pretty much the only handle you have to grab.

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