Democrats using secret money to push lawsuit against Trump administration

Paul Sperry:
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, arguably the most outspoken Democratic critic of secret money in politics, last month sent a plea to donors to help counter “buckets of right-wing dark money” spent by “the Koch brothers and their shady network of outside groups” to unseat leftist giants like her.

But now, in a fit of hypocrisy, a top protégé of Warren is using secret money to protect her and President Barack Obama’s anti-business brainchild, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, from duly coming under the control of the Trump administration and its regulatory reforms.

Before stepping down as CFPB’s overzealous first director over Thanksgiving, Obama appointee Richard Cordray hand-picked a successor, Leandra English, to preempt an appointment by President Trump.

Undeterred, Trump installed his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, to temporarily run the powerful agency, which has the authority to determine the “fairness” of virtually every financial transaction in America.

But English, who previously served in the White House as a senior Obama adviser, insisted she was the “rightful” acting director, and filed a temporary restraining order against Trump to block Mulvaney from taking over. A federal judge denied the order Tuesday, but her legal team has vowed to continue fighting, arguing Trump is attempting an “end-run” on the bureau.

English is represented by Gupta Wessler, known inside the Beltway as the “anti-Trump law firm” for its many other lawsuits against the president. Only, she’s not paying the firm. And the bureau isn’t picking up the legal tab; its general counsel sides with the president.

So who’s funding this extraordinary legal battle with the White House? English’s lead attorney, Deepak Gupta, refuses to say.

“I’m not going to describe [the financial] arrangements,” he said Tuesday in a tense exchange with CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera. “I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to be talking about that on TV right now.”

All he’d disclose is that they had set up a “structure” similar to a “legal defense fund” to cover his fees, but he wouldn’t name any of the donors contributing to the fund.

Hmm. Anonymous donors. Mysterious funding. Shady network of outside groups. Sounds a lot like the “dark money” Gupta’s former boss Warren complains is “unduly influencing our political system” and “destroying democracy.”
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There is a suspicion that the money may have come from donations made by teh agency to Democrat groups from fines paid by victims of the agency's enforcement actions.  There are allegations that the agency used money from settlements with banks and others attacked by it to donate to left-wing groups.  Was Gupta's law firms one of the recipients?

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