I have no deep thoughts on this. It’s just that I read it and suddenly felt like a child again coming down the stairs on Christmas morning to see presents piled high around the tree.
And I had to share that feeling with you.
Given the searing contempt with which all right-thinking people now view Avenatti, this is like opening the big present to find a Red Ryder rifle with a mounted flamethrower attached. It simply can’t get any better.
Unless, I suppose, Stormy fires Avenatti and they then spend most of their time on Twitter for the next few months flaming each other in acidic terms. In which case it’ll be like getting a Red Ryder rifle with a mounted flamethrower and attached chainsaw bayonet.
“For months I’ve asked Michael Avenatti to give me accounting information about the fund my supporters so generously donated to for my safety and legal defense. He has repeatedly ignored those requests. Days ago I demanded again, repeatedly, that he tell me how the money was being spent and how much was left. Instead of answering me, without my permission or even my knowledge Michael launched another crowdfunding campaign to raise money on my behalf. I learned about it on Twitter.
“I haven’t decided yet what to do about legal representation moving forward. Michael has been a great advocate in many ways. I’m tremendously grateful to him for aggressively representing me in my fight to regain my voice. But in other ways Michael has not treated me with the respect and deference an attorney should show to a client. He has spoken on my behalf without my approval. He filed a defamation case against Donald Trump against my wishes. He repeatedly refused to tell me how my legal defense fund was being spent. Now he has launched a new crowdfunding campaign using my face and name without my permission and attributing words to me that I never wrote or said. I’m deeply grateful to my supporters and they deserve to know their money is being spent responsibly. I don’t want to hurt Michael, but it’s time to set the record straight. The truth has always been my greatest ally.
He denies everything, of course:
“I am and have always been Stormy’s biggest champion. I have personally sacrificed an enormous amount of money, time and energy toward assisting her because I believe in her. I have always been an open book with Stormy as to all aspects of her cases and she knows that. The retention agreement Stormy signed back in February provided that she would pay me $100.00 and that any and all other monies raised via a legal fund would go toward my legal fees and costs. Instead, the vast majority of the money raised has gone toward her security expenses and similar other expenses. The most recent campaign was simply a refresh of the prior campaign, designed to help defray some of Stormy’s expenses.”
Are these two going to end up suing each other over what fees Avenatti was entitled to? She’d have to drop him as her lawyer in her suit against Trump and Cohen in that case.
Which means we’d have to stop calling him “creepy porn lawyer.” “Creepy lawyer” won’t cut it either: Something like 97 percent of attorneys qualify for that.
It’s hard to reconcile their two narratives. If it’s true that the money raised online for her is supposed to be going to Avenatti for his fees, not to her for her personal security, then arguably she’ll end up owing him money, not vice versa. But filing suit in her name without her approval is serious business, if true. Experts tell the Daily Beast that it’d be grounds for a malpractice suit. It’d also pose a problem under Rule 1.4 of California’s Rules of Professional Conduct, which requires lawyers to “promptly inform the client of any decision or circumstance with respect to which disclosure or the client’s informed consent is required by these rules or the State Bar Act.” “We’re suing the president for libel over a tweet” presumably required Stormy’s informed consent.
There are rules governing how a lawyer’s supposed to handle a client’s money too. Rule 1.15 says a lawyer must “promptly account in writing to the client” about funds in his safekeeping, and Rule 1.5 lists various factors that can lead to a lawyer’s fee being deemed “unconscionable.” Among them are whether the lawyer engaged in fraud and whether the client gave fully informed consent to the fee. If Stormy’s telling the truth, there was at minimum a major misunderstanding, shall we say, between her and Avenatti about how the legal defense fund would be used and whether he’d have to account to her for it. Whose fault is that misunderstanding?
But there’s even greater potential jeopardy for Avenatti here. If hypothetically he agreed to waive all of his fees for the failed defamation suit against Trump, you might reason “no harm, no foul” with respect to him suing without Stormy’s approval. Granted, he had no right to involve Daniels in a suit which she didn’t authorize, but she’s already suing Trump elsewhere and the lack of any fees due means she’d have incurred no financial liabilities from the matter — with respect to Avenatti. But remember, not only did they lose the suit, the court awarded Trump attorney’s fees. Daniels is potentially on the hook for $342,000. If in fact Avenatti sued Trump without her approval, she’s obviously not going to fork over that money to POTUS, assuming she even has it. She’ll have to sue Avenatti to try to get out from under it.
Exit question: How can these two remain lawyer-client even if she doesn’t end up suing him? She’s all but accused him publicly now of being a grifter who’s behaved unethically. There’s no going back.