Biglaw Firm’s Work For The Trump Administration
This article features Government Accountability Project and was originally published here.
Michael Pack was CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media an agency that oversees, among others, Voice of America under the Trump Administration. While he was in charge of USAGM, Pack alleged there was a “deep state” within the agency acting in opposition to his directive and that there were security concerns. Unable to just axe the agency executives that drew his ire, he suspended them and ordered an investigation into potential wrongdoing. But instead of using inspectors general or civil servants for the investigation, Pack signed a no-bid contract with McGuireWoods to do the work.
As reported by NPR, nonprofit organization Government Accountability Project filed Freedom of Information Act requests to find out exactly what McGuireWoods was doing on the taxpayer dime.
The invoices reflect that McGuireWoods’ legal team, among other duties, reviewed social media posts, “news articles relating to Michael Pack” and an “[Office of Inspector General] audit on Hillary Clinton’s email breach.”
It was not immediately apparent what the controversy involving the former Secretary of State had to do with the investigation of the suspended USAGM executives. Clinton by then had already been out of office for more than seven years.
“The engagement constitutes gross mismanagement, gross waste of taxpayer dollars and abuse of authority,” David Seide of the Government Accountability Project, wrote in a letter Thursday to congressional committees with oversight of the USAGM.
“The ‘deliverables’ provided by McGuireWoods are — always were — of questionable value,” he wrote. “The investigations produced nothing that could justify the kind of discipline Mr. Pack sought to impose on current USAGM employees he did not like — he wanted them fired (they have since been reinstated). Investigations of former employees also yielded nothing.”
According to the records, five partners, six associates, two counsel, two staff attorneys, seven paralegals, three case assistants, 14 other timekeepers, and 11 outsourced attorneys were all on the engagement. The engagement was led by partner John D. Adams, who has a ton of conservative bona fides as a former GOP candidate for Virginia attorney general and as a former Clarence Thomas law clerk.
Seide also says political appointees aren’t supposed to oversee federal contracts, except…
Yet the documents show the law firm’s point of contact at the agency was Sam Dewey, a political appointee who was a top adviser and attorney for Pack, who had separately investigated several Voice of America journalists for perceived anti-Trump bias.
“CEO Pack’s decision to engage McGuireWoods was lawful as were all subsequent matters of which I am aware related to McGuireWoods’ work for USAGM,” Dewey tells NPR. “I cannot comment further as USAGM has not authorized me to speak on this issue.” Dewey has left the agency.
As coincidence would have it, McGuireWoods told Pack their investigation was complete on January 19 — the day before newly inaugurated President Biden asked Pack to step down from his role.