I have been wondering this myself.
Courtesy of The Fresno Bee:
Rep. Devin Nunes’ critics have obsessed over how he is paying for the six lawsuits he filed this year, but there are no public records showing how he has paid his Virginia lawyer.
That means Nunes is either paying for the lawsuits out of his own pocket, promising to pay his lawyer a portion of any money they’re awarded in court at a later date, or flouting House Ethics rules that would require him to publicly disclose who is funding the legal work.
Nunes, R-Tulare, has filed lawsuits against Twitter, anonymous social media users known as Devin Nunes’ Cow and Devin Nunes’ Mom, a Republican political strategist, media companies, journalists, progressive watchdog groups, a political research firm that worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and a retired farmer in Nunes’ own district.
All but one of those lawsuits — the one filed in California by Nunes’ campaign against retired farmer Paul Buxman, who accused Nunes of being a fake farmer — is still active. Nunes filed most of the cases in Virginia.
All were filed by Virginia attorney Steven Biss, alleging the journalists, media companies and political operatives conspired to defame Nunes or undermine his ability to lead the House Intelligence Committee.
Nunes’ third quarter campaign finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission showed he paid a Fresno law firm representing him in that suit about $3,400.
Nunes campaign finance reports with the FEC do not have records of any payments that appear affiliated with Biss.
So is there a way that others could legally finance these lawsuits on Nunes’ behalf?
Yes, but it does not appear that anybody is using them.
Nunes would have to set up a legal defense fund to accept free legal services or to receive money from a benefactor. Members of Congress have strict rules against receiving generous gifts, with some exceptions for family.
“It would be considered a gift from that benefactor, so the only way he could do it is through a legal defense fund,” said Kedric Payne, general counsel for the nonpartisan watchdog Campaign Legal Center, a former deputy chief counsel of the Office of Congressional Ethics.
Nunes has no such fund set up, according to a public records search by McClatchy. Even under the rules of that fund, set up by Congress, no one person could donate more than the $5,000 limit, according to Payne.
There are some exceptions that allow members to seek pro bono legal services without such a fund, but none of those exceptions would apply in Nunes’ lawsuits.
According to the House Ethics Manual, members would not need to set up a fund if they received free legal services in cases where they are directly involved if it is a civil suits challenging federal laws, regulations or the lawfulness of actions of a federal agency. But the matter must “concern a matter of public interest, rather than a matter that is personal in nature.”
So the question remains, who is paying for these lawsuits, and why?
And then my additional question would be “Are any of them Russian oligarchs?”