Election Lawyer Marc Elias Sanctioned in Texas Court

By Prakash Gogoi | March 23, 2021
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Marc Elias, a top lawyer for the Democratic Party who works at Perkins Coie LLP, has been sanctioned by a Texas federal court after submitting a “redundant and misleading” filing.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit observed that Elias had violated his ethical “duty of candor” in a lawsuit concerning straight-ticket voting. Of the three Bush-appointed judges, two supported sanctions on Elias and associates. 

The judges noted that the appellees failed to reveal to the court that their motion to supplement the record filed on Feb. 10 was almost identical to the motion to supplement the record filed in Sept. 2020 by the same attorneys. Moreover, the appellees also concealed that the previous identical motion was denied.

Marc Elias to cover court costs and legal fees 

The court ordered Elias and other attorneys involved in the motion to pay legal fees and court costs to Texas. It was also suggested that they study the Model Rules of Professional Conduct on “Candor Toward the Tribunal” and finish an hour of “Continuing Legal Education” in Ethics and Professionalism.

The lawyers had represented three parties, including two Democratic committees, in the lawsuit. It was filed against Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughes, represented by the state’s Attorney General Ken Paxton. 

The case revolved around Texas banning the practice of “straight-ticket voting,” which allowed voters to automatically vote for every member of a specific party on ballots by marking just a single box rather than having to vote for each member individually. 

Democrats wanted to reimpose straight-ticket voting, arguing that the Texas law prohibiting the practice “harms minority and lower-income voters” while resulting in longer waiting times to vote.

Paxton stated that the Democrat arguments were shaky and not backed by any solid evidence, a position that the Texas court eventually agreed with. “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… 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,” Paxton said in a statement.

Funds were channeled from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign to Fusion GPS, which was responsible for compiling the Russian dossier on Trump. Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr /CC0.2.0

The Russian dossier involvement

Elias is well-known for arranging the infamous ‘Russia dossier’ in 2016, which alleged that Trump had suspicious ties with Russia. The dossier was provided to the FBI, who used it to justify their surveillance of the Trump campaign. 

Even though the dossier was eventually proven false, the issue negatively affected Trump’s entire presidency. The dossier was compiled by a research firm called Fusion GPS. Elias’ law firm was responsible for channeling funds to Fusion GPS from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Constitutional law scholar Jonathan Turley, a liberal Democrat, points out that Elias was deeply involved in hiding Clinton’s role in the dossier. When the Clinton team had denied the connection to congressional investigators in 2017, Elias chose to remain mute despite knowing the truth. 

“No one was charged for making false statements [to Congress] in the interview. Likewise, while legal blogs have called for disbarments of Trump lawyers for making false statements, there is no call to determine if Elias should face similar scrutiny and whether, as alleged, he lied about the funding of the dossier or assisted others in making such false or misleading statements,” Turley said in a statement.

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