December 22, 2010 2:30 PM
Lightning Rod Lanny: Davis Lands Another Controversial Client
Posted by D.M. Levine
When The American Lawyer last checked in with ubiquitous Beltway lawyer/lobbyist/spinmeister Lanny Davis, the former McDermott Will & Emery partner had recently signed a $1-million-a-year contract to act as “reform counsel” to Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo--the Equatorial Guinea president whose 30-year rule has been marked by accusations of systematic human rights violations.
At the time, Davis said his decision to accept Obiang as a client was contingent on the African strongman fulfulling his promises to reform his government.
Now, as first reported Tuesday by Salon.com, Davis is representing another controversial African political leader--Laurent Gbagbo, the embattled president of Ivory Coast. Gbagbo has refused to give up his grip on power despite coming out on the losing end last month to political opponent Alassane Ouattara in an election whose results have been endorsed by both the United States and United Nations.
In response to the election, security forces loyal to Gbagbo have reportedly unleashed a torrent of political violence across the country, allegedly beating, rounding up, and in some instances, killing protesters and the president's political foes.
Against this backdrop, Davis took Gbagbo and his government on as a lobbying client as of December 17, according to documents filed with the U.S. Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Davis's fee, according to the FARA filing: $100,000 per month for the first three months.
The lobbying pact calls for Davis to “present the fact and the law as to why there is substantial documentary evidence that President Laurent Gbagbo is the duly elected president as a result of the Novermber 28 elections” to various U.S. government agencies.
Regardless of what the FARA documents indicate, according to an interview published by Salon on Wednesday, Davis claims to be “agnostic” on the election results. He did tell Salon, however, that “if I found that he's been guilty of, or his government has been guilty of human rights abuses or killing innocent civilians, no, I would not continue [to represent Gbagbo].”
Davis did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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