The Work

February 9, 2009 1:20 PM

Disclosure Forms Reveal Gibson, Dunn Role in 'Troopergate'

Posted by Brian Baxter

UPDATE: Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg announced his resignation on February 10 amid what Gov. Sarah Palin called a "harsh political climate." Colberg was appointed by Palin in 2006.

The Anchorage Daily News (ADN) reports that Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher was part of a legal team that donated roughly $185,000 of billable time to represent six Alaskan legislators seeking to block the 'Troopergate' investigation being conducted by their legislative colleagues into whether Gov. Sarah Palin abused the power of her office.

State disclosure forms filed by Fred Dyson, Tom Wagoner, Bob Lynn, Mike Kelly, Wes Keller, and Carl Gatto show that Gibson, Dunn billed $120,000 in attorney fees as part of the suit filed by the six Republican legislators.

The six plaintiffs were also represented by Anchorage attorney Kevin Clarkson, of counsel with Brena, Bell & Clarkson, who submitted a $40,000 bill for legal services rendered.

The Liberty Legal Institute also contributed $25,000 for "constitutional expertise," reports The ADN, noting that the institute, which claims to promote Judeo-Christian values and limited government, is an affiliate of the Plano, Texas-based Free Market Foundation and associated with James Dobson's Focus on the Family.

The ADN reports that legal bills on the disclosure reports are listed as "gifts of services" because attorneys had hoped to recoup fees in the event of a victory. But the suit by the six legislators was dismissed last fall.

The Troopergate report issued by the Alaskan legislature determined that Palin had the constitutional authority to fire the state's former public safety commissioner Walter Monegan, who critics of the governor claimed had been canned because he resisted efforts to fire a state trooper that was once Palin's former brother-in-law.

Yet the initial probe--conducted by former prosecutor Stephen Branchflower--also found that Palin, her husband, and several subordinates had broken state ethics laws by pressuring Monegan to resign. But a second investigation conducted by Anchorage lawyer Timothy Petumenos of Birch, Horton, Bittner & Cherot, hired as independent counsel to review Branchflower's report, cleared Palin of any wrongdoing.

Palin was represented throughout the investigation by Thomas Van Flein of Alaska's Clapp, Peterson, Van Flein, Tiemessen & Thorsness, who The ADN reports was paid $185 per hour for work done on behalf of the governor.

Peter Maassen, a name partner at Anchorage's Ingaldson, Maassen & Fitzgerald who represented the legislative council in the unsuccessful attempt by six of its members to halt the 'Troopergate' inquiry, told The ADN that the legislature paid him $29,845 for his services.

Gibson, Dunn confirmed to The Am Law Daily that the legal work done on behalf of the six state legislators was donated pro bono time. Work for Republican causes isn't anything new for the firm, which employs former U.S. solicitor general and noted advocate for Republican causes Theodore Olson as cochair of its appellate and constitutional law group and crisis management team.

We previously reported that Gibson, Dunn represented former presidential nominee John McCain in a series of civil suits challenging the status of the war veterans' citizenship. The firm succeeded in winning the dismissal of most of those suits.

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Attempting to block an investigation into possible abuse of power by Gov. Palin is pro bono legal work at Gibson Dunn?

Do all of the partners get to vote on that?

Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher; William French Smith, and Ronald Reagan. Is there a Republican partisan basis, or just a coincidence?

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