A lawyer critical of National Security Agency surveillance is denying reports that Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul lifted a class-action lawsuit from him, according to the senator’s political action committee.
“The Washington Post story is completely inaccurate; in fact, Bruce Fein has come out to dispute the story himself,” Sergio Gor, spokesman for RANDPAC told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Gor provided TheDCNF with an email from Fein, a former Reagan administration official, which read: “Mattie Lolavar was not speaking for me. Her quotes were her own and did not represent my views. I was working on a legal team, and have been paid for my work.”
On Wednesday, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank published a story in which Fein’s ex-wife Mattie, quoted using her married name, accused Paul and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli of bilking her ex-husband out of money and proper attribution for his role in helping craft the class-action suit.
“I am aghast and shocked by Ken Cuccinelli’s behavior and his absolute knowledge that this entire complaint was the work product, intellectual property and legal genius of Bruce Fein,” she said, claiming to be her ex-husband’s spokeswoman.
“Ken Cuccinelli stole the suit,” she added, saying Paul “already has one plagiarism issue, now has a lawyer who just takes another lawyer’s work product.”
Last year, Paul was accused of lifting passages for his books and opinion columns from others without citation.
In his article, Milbank cited similarities between the language used by Fein and that of the final draft of the suit, which was filed Wednesday.
“Except for some cuts and minor wording changes, they are clearly the same documents,” Milbank wrote.
Members of Paul’s camp say Fein was a member of the legal team.
The suit alleges that Obama and the NSA are violating U.S. citizens’ rights by collecting phone users’ metadata. Paul and Cuccinelli, who recently ran an unsuccessful Virginia gubernatorial campaign, have teamed up in the past to criticize Obama and the NSA for the surveillance program.
The Washington Post has yet to update Milbank’s article. Other news outlets, such as MSNBC, cited Milbank’s article but later issued corrections.
UPDATE: Late Thursday, The Washington Post published an article by Dana Milbank showing the email exchanges between Fein, his ex-wife, Cuccinelli and Paul’s political team.
The emails show that Fein was frustrated with the announcement of the NSA lawsuit, and that his ex-wife thought that the team had stolen Fein’s intellectual property.
“My name was not on the complaint despite the fact that it was predominantly my work product over several weeks and two hundred hours of research, meetings, and drafting,” wrote Fein, in a complaint to Paul’s chief political advisor on Wednesday.
But Fein indicated in the email that he had no plans to severe ties with the Paul-Cuccinelli dyad. He also never accused the lawsuit team of theft or plagiarism.
“Going forward, I expect complete transparency and inclusion on all non-trivial decisions,” Fein wrote, in an email obtained by Milbank. “My name will be on all future pleadings. Ken and I plan to meet shortly to discuss these matters.”
Paul’s campaign spokesman declined TheDCNF’s request for comment.