Is it just me or are Republicans finding it impossible not to align themselves with corrupt associates? I mean, we have a current president who has played cabinet musical chairs more than any other recent administration, much of which is due to scandal, indictment and criminal conviction; a president who, himself, can’t seem to enjoy a scandal-free week. Now, we have former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, a guy who Batman’s “Penguin” character was likely modeled after. Giuliani is such a scandal magnet that even the law firm hired to get him out of his scandalous troubles are embroiled in scandal.
NBC News reported that Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht, the firm representing Giuliani in the Ukraine debacle, is currently involved in a bitter court battle with a former partner that has revealed allegations of financial misconduct, sexual assault and office masturbation. (It took every last bit of my restraint and maturity for me to not headline this story, “Giuliani’s a Jerk-off and Apparently so are His Lawyers.”)
As those of you who have been able to stomach following the “corruption on Capitol Hill chronicles” may know, New York federal prosecutors launched a criminal probe into Giuliani over his alleged Ukraine involvement. For the rest of you, Giuliani, who is President Trump’s personal lawyer, is under scrutiny for his conduct in the Ukraine where he moved to damage Joe Biden, a leading Democratic candidate, and force out the U.S. ambassador. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who are associates of Giuliani, were arrested on campaign finance violations. Giuliani’s involvement is a big part of the Trump impeachment proceedings. The former “tough on crime—or at least, all crime but my own” mayor insists he did nothing illegal. (Because don’t they all?)
Two attorneys associated with Pierce Bainbridge, which has faced an exodus of lawyers due to litigation, according to NBC, were defending Giuliani but, according to the New York Law Journal, those partners, Eric Creizman and Melissa Madrigal left Pierce Bainbridge on Friday and are set to join the New York office of a different firm, Armstrong Teasdale, later this month. (Yeah, I would’ve gotten my ass out of the cesspool that had me defending a professional cesspool swimmer, too.)
But Giuliani will continue to be represented by Pierce Bainbridge, according to the firm’s managing partner John Pierce.
“I will personally be working on Rudy’s matters along with my partners, Tom Warren and Tom Frongillo, both of whom are nationally renowned white-collar lawyers,” Pierce said in a statement.
As for the firm’s Pierce legal battles, they began last May when Donald Lewis, a former partner who was ousted, filed a 96-page lawsuit alleging the firm wrongfully fired him on the basis of a false sex abuse complaint. Lewis believes he was only let go because he raised concerns about financial misconduct at the firm.
Lewis, a graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School, had joined Pierce Bainbridge in June 2018 after working as an associate at the firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, and as an in-house lawyer for WeWork. He claimed in his suit that he was retaliated against after he says he learned that John Pierce was misusing money loaned to the firm.
“The primary motivation for Pierce’s financial misconduct appears to be his shambles of a personal financial situation, as well as his personal demons,” says the suit, which describes Pierce Bainbridge as a firm built on “smoke and mirrors.”
Lewis’s suit alleges that John Pierce knew the sexual abuse allegation against him was false and may have helped manufacture it. “The depraved plan was to dirty-up [Lewis], torpedo his credibility and silence him for life,” says the suit filed in New York.
Pierce Bainbridge filed a countersuit in Los Angeles basically alleging that Lewis’s $65 million legal action is really just a $65 million extortion attempt. They claim Lewis was fired after he tried to block an internal investigation of “credible allegations of sexual assault, harassment and retaliation” brought against him by an employee of the firm.
According to the countersuit, in July 2019, Lewis was allegedly caught masturbating in his office by a female employee. When Lewis spotted the employee, who has not been identified, he walked over to her with his pants down and groped her while continuing to masturbate, the suit says.
Lewis was placed on administrative leave and an outside firm was brought in to investigate the allegation. That firm later determined her account of events to be credible.
“The firm immediately terminated [Lewis] because he violated the terms of his administrative leave, defamed and disparaged the firm and certain partners, and revealed sensitive information about the (alleged victim),” the suit says.
A month later, Lewis filed a second suit accusing Pierce Bainbridge of launching a “scorched earth war” against him and citing LinkedIn posts from John Pierce that labeled Lewis a “terrorist” and a “credibly accused sex predator.” Lewis’ suit says the posts from Pierce were visible to his 30,000 LinkedIn connections. “It is beyond reprehensible and illustrates that Pierce lacks even a modicum of decency,” the suit says.
A Los Angeles judge dismissed the Pierce Bainbridge countersuit against Lewis in December for lack of jurisdiction, but both of Lewis’ suits are still ongoing.
Now, let’s bring things back to Lewis’ sexual assault accuser because that damn sure doesn’t need to be glossed over. Here’s what she’s alleging he did along with attacking her:
“After he assaulted me, Mr. Lewis threatened retaliation by stating that if I ever ‘told anyone what happened’ he would make sure that I was ‘finished,’” she said in an affidavit. “He made reference to his close relationship with the firm’s co-founder, John Pierce, which I interpreted as a message that my word would not be believed over his if I were to speak out about the assault.”
Lewis called the allegations “patently false” in a statement.
“I blew the whistle on financial misconduct, and Pierce Bainbridge immediately set out to destroy my life,” he said. “The firm exploited false allegations, by a staffer attempting to save her job, to defame me nationwide and discredit my truthful allegations, which the firm has said: ‘if true, would amount to criminal activity.’”
To wrap things up in a nice, scandalous, “all my friends are trash and all their friends are trash” bow, Pierce Bainbridge has hired Marc Mukasey, an outside lawyer, to help defend the firm. Mukasey just so happens to be a longtime Giuliani ally who has also represented President Trump.
In a statement, John Pierce described the Lewis feud as a non-event.
“The Don Lewis case is nothing but a distraction from what is most important to us: zealously and aggressively representing many of the world’s most prominent companies and individuals in cases of monumental importance. His case, too, shall pass.”
Giuliani announced that he was being represented by Pierce Bainbridge the following month after the two sides filed their dueling motions. He sure knows how to choose his people, doesn’t he?