By R. Cort Kirkwood - thenewamerican.com
Michael Avenatti, the flamboyant, trash-talking lawyer, is in trouble again.
This time, he might face an ethics inquiry.
His most famous client, porn queen Stormy Daniels, avers that she never wanted Avenatti to file the ridiculous, losing defamation lawsuit against President Trump. Even worse, she claims, Avenatti has raised money using her name without her knowledge and spent it.
Daniels' claims, published in The Daily Beast, don't help the anti-Trump lawyer's credibility.
He faces an unresolved domestic violence case, a judge evicted his law firm from its posh digs, and a former associate clobbered him with a judgment the same day.
But it gets even worse: The FBI is probing his wild criminal accusations against U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Daniels, the Beast reported, says she didn't want to file against Trump for defamation.
Filed against her wishes, she says, the lawsuit alleged that Trump smeared her on Twitter. The president cast doubt on the porn star's claim that a man threatened to physically harm her if she revealed her romps with Trump.
Avenatti sued, but Daniels wasn't up for the legal fisticuffs. And beyond that, she claims, Avenatti opened a fundraising account without her knowledge.
"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," she told the Beast.
But "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."
The new campaign, she wrote, used "my face and name without my permission" and attributed "words to me that I never wrote or said."
But beyond that, she stated, Avenatti has spoken for her without approval, and filed the lawsuit -again, without her OK.
Avenatti is a "great advocate in many ways," she wrote. While "grateful to him for aggressively representing me in my fight to regain my voice," Avenatti "has spoken on my behalf without my approval. He filed a defamation case against Donald Trump against my wishes."
Avenatti denied it:
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.
Whatever the truth about Avenatti's representation, the lawsuit against Trump failed. The judge not only dismissed it but also ordered Daniels to pay $350,000 in legal fees.
Avenatti appealed the case.
If Daniels' charges are true, Avenatti could be in trouble, a legal ethics expert told the Beast.
"If he filed the case with her name when it was clear that she told him not to, then he could be sued for that," said Stephen Gillers of New York University Law School. "He could be sued for malpractice. If true, she has a malpractice case against him. I emphasize if true. And if true, he would be subject to discipline but not as serious as disbarment."
Avenatti's rough weather with Stormy aside, he faces another even more serious matter: "materially false statements" he made to the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Kavanaugh confirmation.
In late October, Committee chieftain Chuck Grassley twice referred Avenatti's criminal accusations against Kavanaugh to the FBI. Avenatti and his two clients, Julie Swetnick and another unidentified woman, alleged that Kavanaugh and his pals drugged girls and gang-raped them.
But in interviews with NBC news, Grassley observed, both women retracted the claims Avenatti made on their behalf in sworn statements to the committee.
Grassley told the FBI that the second woman's claims were an "outright fraud."
The anonymous client said Avenatti "twisted my words."