Republicans raise ‘serious’ red flags over lawyer seeking to flip Iowa election result

As the Wall Street Journal characterized it, four months after the November election, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “might steal an Iowa House seat.”

And in that quest, House Republicans are raising “serious” ethical concerns about the high-profile lawyer representing Rita Hart, the losing Democratic candidate in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District.

Hart is asking the House Administration Committee to investigate 22 ballots that she claims were not properly tallied in a race her GOP opponent, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, won by six votes.

Hart’s attorney, Mark Elias, and his firm Perkins Coie represent half of the Democrats on the House Administration Committee, which will be deciding whether to initiate a recount.

“We write to bring to your attention to a serious conflict of interest regarding Marc Elias, an attorney with the law firm Perkins Coie,” the Republicans on the committee said in a letter. “In the election contests currently before us, Mr. Elias simultaneously represents Members of the Committee, the triers of fact and law, and parties to these contests, an arrangement clearly prohibited by attorney ethics rules and obligations.”

The letter was sent to Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., chair of the House Administration Committee.

Turns out, Lofgren is among the Democrats represented by Perkins Coie, as well as Reps. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., and Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Penn. There are six Democrats total on the committee.

As seen in the caption above, the Republicans reference “a serious conflict of interest and ethical issues with Democrats’ attorney working to steal a congressional seat.”

The GOP lawmakers cite Rule 1.7 of the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which prohibits an attorney from engaging in representation that involves “a concurrent conflict of interest,” to allege the legal arrangement is in clear violation here.

“We are gravely concerned that these serious conflicts of interest and ethical lapses on the part of counsel compromise the work of this Committee, and, more specifically, demonstrate further that the Democratic Members of this Committee operate not in search of the truth but solely in search of partisan, political gain,” the letter authored by Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., the top Republican on the Administration Committee, stated.

The lawmakers also raises ethical concerns about Elias and his firm being sanctioned by the court in a previous election law case.

The WSJ pointed out that Pelosi has a real numbers problem that’s about to get even worse.

She has a 222-213 margin in the House, meaning only five Democrats need to defect on any bill for her to fail,

“The margin will soon be 219-211, with three Democratic representatives joining the Biden administration and two Republicans having died since the election,” the article noted.

The tactic being used to pursue the Iowa race was popular during the Gilded Age — more from the Journal:

Mrs. Pelosi may be tempted to pad her House Democratic margin by reviving a practice used extensively between 1875 and 1903. The Constitution provides that each congressional chamber “shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members.” Using this clause, both parties routinely expanded their majorities during the Gilded Age by challenging the minority’s narrow or suspect victories and replacing them with their own or declaring the seat vacant, provoking a time-consuming special election. Between the 44th Congress (1875-77) and the 58th (1903-05), the parties flipped a total of 59 seats through such challenges.

 

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Tom Tillison

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