The Department of Justice is trying to asertain whether lawyers representing members of the group Oath Keepers are receiving legal funds from an outside entity and whether such support would be improper.
According to The Washington Post, DOJ lawyers filed the motion on Wednesday, citing reports from BuzzFeed News and Mother Jones that showed lawyers for Oath Keepers members received funding from Defending the Republic, which is a nonprofit entity run by former Trump attorney Sidney Powell.
The group used some of the millions of dollars of funding it raised by spreading claims of election fraud to pay the defendants’ legal fees, the department said, which would violate ethics rules in relation to conflicts of interest.
“The government is filing this motion because it has an interest and an obligation to ensure it represents its client, the United States, competently and diligently,” the filing states. “Those duties include raising potential conflicts with the Court as they arise, ensuring that defendants and third parties are adequately advised of their rights, and protecting the record by involving the Court in the process of addressing a potential conflict before it undermines a proceeding and a defendant’s right to competent and conflict-free representation.”
The request asks the judge to inspect fee arrangements made to group members’ lawyers, even those made privately behind closed doors, to ensure compliance with legal ethics that prohibit the defense from receiving outside funding unless the client consents.
The filing cited reports showing Defending the Republic made payments to Jonathon Mosely, who was representing Oath Keepers member Kelly Meggs prior to being disbarred in Virginia earlier this year. Meggs’s new lawyers agreed to the court’s rules on conflict of interest but declined to say whether they had received funding from Powell’s group.
Before filing the request, the DOJ asked the Oath Keepers members’ lawyers whether they had accepted funding from Defending the Republic, according to the report. Attorneys for four of the defendants said they did not, another three said they were in compliance with conflict-of-interest rules but declined to disclose if they received funding, two did not respond, and one declined to answer.
Members of the Oath Keepers group were charged with seditious conspiracy in January “related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, which disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress that was in the process of ascertaining and counting the electoral votes related to the presidential election.”
The Justice Department said the defendants brought “paramilitary gear,” knives, batons, camouflaged uniforms, helmets, and radios to the US Capitol on January 6th.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: PRESS DEMOCRAT
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