Top Democratic Party Election Lawyer Sanctioned by Judge

March 14, 2021 Updated: March 14, 2021

One of the Democratic Party’s top lawyers, Marc Elias, has been sanctioned by a federal court for an ethics violation and for submitting a “redundant and misleading” filing.

Marc Elias, an attorney for Perkins Coie LLP who was involved in election-related lawsuits during the 2020 elections, was punished and criticized by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit on March 11. Several of his colleagues also were admonished.

“Appellees did not notify the court that their latest motion to supplement the record filed on February 10, 2021 was nearly identical to the motion to supplement the record filed several months ago by the same attorneys, on September 29, 2020. Critically, Appellees likewise failed to notify the court that their previous and nearly identical motion was denied,” Judge Edith Clement and Judge Jennifer Elrod ruled (pdf).

“This inexplicable failure to disclose the earlier denial of their motion violated their duty of candor to the court.”

Elias and the other Perkins Coie attorneys were ordered to pay legal fees and “double costs” to Texas, the order stipulates. The judges also suggested that the lawyers review the section of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct on “Candor Toward the Tribunal” and complete an hour of “Continuing Legal Education in the area of Ethics and Professionalism, specifically candor with the court.”

Elias didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.

Perkins Coie told Bloomberg News that it still backs Elias, who notably hired the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which then hired British ex-spy Christopher Steele in 2016. The infamous dossier compiled by Steele, which contained unverified claims and falsehoods, was used by the FBI to surveil former President Donald Trump’s campaign in its “Crossfire Hurricane” operation.

“We do not normally respond to requests for comment on pending litigation, but the firm and the attorneys involved in this matter strongly disagree with the appellate court’s ruling and its order of sanctions in this case,” the firm said in a statement. “The firm fully and completely supports our attorneys in this case.”

In 2020, Elias led a team of attorneys to file lawsuits to expand ballot access in swing states during the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic. Republicans and Trump himself criticized Elias, saying that he was being used by Democrats to “steal” the 2020 election.

The Perkins Coie lawyers represented the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in a suit against Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughes, who was represented by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, according to the Washington Examiner.

They argued that a Democratic bid to reimpose straight-ticket voting in Texas is “shaky” and said Democrats have no evidence. The court ultimately agreed with the Texas Secretary of State’s office and rebuffed the Democrats.

“Elias has no valid explanation for the misleading submissions to the Fifth Circuit. Even when they were notified that they violated ethical rules, they refused to withdraw their motion. They were aware of their violations and blatantly chose to ignore them,” Paxton said March 12 in a statement. “I thank the Court for issuing these much-needed sanctions. Perkins Coie cannot continue to mislead the Court, especially in a matter as important as election integrity.”