Michael Avenatti Has Some Splaining To Do!
Yr Wonkette, like a lot of people, started falling out of love with that Michael Avenatti guy right around the time he said he thought he'd make a really good president. Oh, sure, he'd won us -- especially the Evan part of us -- over in the beginning by being smoking hot and sounding like a badass, but once he started sounding like he was high on his own supply and started insisting he was the One White Guy who could take on Donald Trump in 2020, we decided it was time to put away the Lisa Frank unicorn-n-rainbows Trapper Keeper we'd scribbled "MA + Wonkette 4EVR" all over, because dood, really?
Then came the domestic violence arrest, which may or may not involve a rightwing setup, but either way, we were already pretty done before that anyway. Now, it's time to ice that Goodbye Cake with the statement by Stormy Daniels, published by the Daily Beast yesterday, that she never authorized Avenatti to pursue a defamation lawsuit against Donald Trump. She also says she's not certain she wants to keep him on as her lawyer after he failed to detail how he was spending money raised by a couple of crowdsourcing campaigns in her name.
Daniels's statement is a doozy. It reads, in part,
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.
That new crowdsourcing campaign at the fundraising site CrowdJustice has since been taken down, but a copy was archived at the Wayback Machine before it went down the memory hole. As Daniels said, it's written in the first person as if in her voice, which seems iffy, no? (Suppose it would depend on the details of their contract, of course.)
Daniels doesn't accuse Avenatti of misusing any funds, but she certainly suggests he was pretty lousy at communicating with her.
Also too, prepare for your eyebrows to raise quizzically at Avenatti's statement in reply, which is remarkably non-specific!
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.
It was very nice of him to take such a small retainer and also to use the crowdsourced funds for her security instead of to pay himself, but that hardly addresses Daniels's specific complaints about his speaking on her behalf or launching a defamation lawsuit without her permission. Which is definitely a legal no-no, if Daniels is right:
Stephen Gillers, a New York University Law School professor and expert on legal ethics, said Avenatti could face serious problems if he sued Trump against Daniels' wishes.
"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," Gillers said. "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."
The Daily Beast asked Avenatti for a breakdown of those crowdfunded expenses, and again got only a kinda-sorta answer:
Avenatti said via email, "The money has gone toward the areas identified on the page. For instance, Stormy's security detail has cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, especially due to the high level of death threats. The other out-of-pocket costs of the litigation are also extraordinary (and I'm not speaking of attorneys' fees). Trump and Cohen have spent millions in their defense]."
That isn't actually very detailed; if that's the sort of "open book" Avenatti was in his communications with his client, we think we'd be inclined to stop reading and get another. Another book, we mean. Or lawyer, maybe.
Yr Wonkette is supported by reader donations. Please send us money so we can continue to spoil your crushes/confirm your suspicions!
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.