Wednesday, November 11, 2020

BREAKING AWAY: Snell & Wilmer Dumps Trump Election Irregularities Case

 As the Trump campaign's Arizona election irregularities case goes to trial tomorrow morning, the plaintiffs will be without two of the high profile attorneys who helped begin the case on Saturday.

Two of Snell & Wilmer's partners - Eric Spencer and Brett Johnson - had helped Donald J. Trump for President and the Republican National Committee successfully intervene in last week's so-called Sharpiegate case. When the plaintiffs in that case - represented by the conservative Public Interest Legal Foundation - dismissed the suit on Saturday, Snell & Wilmer and Statecraft Law immediately filed a new case on behalf of the Trump campaign, the RNC and the Arizona Republican Party. 

The case was filed only a few hours after most news organizations projected that Joe Biden had defeated the President. Less than 21 hours later and without any public developments, Spencer and Johnson filed a little-noticed withdrawal.

The attorneys not only withdrew, but they attempted to make it clear that they had not been representing either the Trump campaign or the AZGOP. (They did not file an after-the-fact withdrawal in the previous case, which makes it unclear if they had represented the President in that case.) Their withdrawal was only from representing the RNC.

Phoenix-based Snell & Wilmer is on the cusp of being one of the 100 largest law firms in the nation (measured by the number of attorneys). Spencer was Arizona's State Election Director under former Secretary of State Michele Reagan, and Johnson is one of the best-known election law attorneys in the state and has represented Governor Doug Ducey in a number of recent Covid-related legal actions.

Their withdrawal came just before the New York Times published an article reporting on the "Growing Discomfort at Law Firms Representing Trump in Election Lawsuits". That article lays out some of the pressures from other clients for the large firms as well as internal discussions about representing the Trump campaign.

"Some senior lawyers at Jones Day, one of the country's largest law firms, are worried that it is advancing arguments that lack evidence and may be helping Mr. Trump and his allies undermine the integrity of American elections," read one portion.

In Arizona's case, the Trump campaign and the Republicans are alleging that Maricopa County poll workers disenfranchised many Republican voters and that that may have cost the President "up to thousands of votes" for the President. (It turned out to be a maximum of 180 votes.)

Although Spencer and Johnson are closely associated with the Republican party, Snell & Wilmer attorneys were much bigger financial supporters of the Biden campaign than the Trump reelection effort. Federal Election Commission filings show that ten attorneys contributed $1,000 or more to the challenger while only one attorney gave $1,000 to the President. (It was neither Spencer nor Johnson.)

Arizona's Law requested comment from several people at Snell & Wilmer and will update if responses warrant.

The Trump and Republican case goes before Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Daniel Kiley on Thursday. Arizona's Law and Arizona's Politics will be there to cover it.

Trump Lawsuit - Notice of Clarification and Withdrawal by arizonaspolitics on Scribd

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