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July 21, 2011 1:45 PM

Under Fire, House Ethics Committee Hires Dorsey & Whitney's Billy Martin to Investigate

Posted by Victor Li

Dorsey & Whitney partner Billy Martin is no stranger to politically charged battles in Washington, D.C.

The renowned trial lawyer represented Monica Lewinsky and her parents during the investigation into President Bill Clinton and served as counsel to Chandra Levy's parents after the former House intern was murdered in 2001.

Martin was hired Wednesday by the House Ethics Committee as outside counsel to investigate whether committee staffers behaved properly in the ongoing probe of Representative Maxine Waters (D-California), according to the Blog of Legal Times, an Am Law Daily sibling publication.

In a joint statement House Ethics Committee chairman Jo Bonner (R-Alabama) and ranking member Linda Sanchez (D-California) said Martin was picked from a list of "numerous excellent candidates for the job." Martin, who joined Dorsey & Whitney in March, also represented NBA players Allen Iverson and Jayson Williams, as well as NFL star Michael Vick, in criminal matters.

Prior to entering private practice, Martin served as a local prosecutor in Cincinnati, Ohio, before moving on to U.S. attorney's offices in Ohio, California, and ultimately Washington, D.C., where he helped prosecute Marion Barry in 1990.

Martin is tasked with investigating whether ethics committee staffers improperly shared information regarding the probe of Waters, who was charged with violations relating to her dealings with OneUnited Bank.

The committee decided to retain outside counsel after Politico reported that two lawyers on the committee may have secretly communicated with Republican members of the committee about the panel's investigations into Waters and New York representative Charles Rangel.

The House statement did not comment on the allegations in Politico, instead saying that "the Committee has not taken these allegations lightly," and "a thorough review of all of these serious allegations will be the very first task of the outside counsel's engagement."

This marks the second time in less than a year that a congressional ethics panel hired outside counsel. In February, the Senate hired K&L Gates partner Carol Elder Bruce to investigate Nevada senator John Ensign on allegations he violated federal law in order to cover up an extramarital affair. Ensign resigned in May.

Martin, through a firm spokesperson, declined to comment to BLT. Waters's attorney, Stanley Brand of Brand Law Group, did not respond to a request by the BLT for comment.

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