'Dirty Tricks' Lawyers Targeted in Ethics Complaint

StopTheChamber.com, a critic of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and one of the targets of a planned Hunton & Williams dirty tricks campaign, is striking back.

The group has filed an ethics complaint with the D.C. Bar Association, reports the Blog of the Legal Times.

The complaint asks the Bar to revoke the law licenses of three Hunton & WIlliams (H&W) partners for ethics violations stemming from the alleged plot. Specifically, the complaint charges that:
"Attorneys John W. Woods, Richard L. Wyatt Jr., and Robert T. Quackenboss... counseled and assisted their client, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and their three private security contractor investigators, HBGary Inc, Palantir Technologies and Berico Technologies, to commit criminal and fraudulent conduct."
The complaint also outlines the criminal conduct committed and which planned to include:
Creating forged documents, Defamation, Cyber stalking, Spear phishing, Violation of privacy, Fraud, Extortion, Harassment, Destruction of property, Domestic spying, Scraping of computer data, Identity Theft, Cyber attacks, Interference with business, Civil rights violations, Conspiracy [list reformatted for space.]
The complaint notes that Woods -- whose bio identifies him as having some computer network security and electronic surveillance expertise -- had recently written an article labeling the relatively innocuous act of an attorney "friending" a witness, without disclosing why he wanted access to the witness's restricted information, as an ethical violation.

For their part, a Hunton & Williams spokeswoman says the "D.C. Bar proceedings are confidential and so we decline to comment." When asked about the plot and the emails that revealed it, the spokeswoman responded with a "no comment."

Plotting to Destroy Credibility

The complaint is rich with detail. Apparently the plotting on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce began in November. That's when H&W asked the three security firms already tasked with targeting Wikileaks (known as Team Themis) to target groups opposed to the Chamber. Later, Woods told the team it was their "'Iranian shipping' presentation that 'sold the Chamber'."

The proposed Chamber campaign would include planting false information at anti-Chamber organizations, getting those groups to publicize the bad information and then "outing" that information as false, all in an effort to destroy the groups' credibility.

Another proposal was to go after one of the groups, Velvet Revolution, using the following strategy:
"(1) "Attack [one of the VR principals] and after a series of attacks on his person start making ties to the back office folks ... discrediting them by association. Done in the right way this can cause them to distance themselves and also funders from [the principal]." (2) "Attack their antics as self-serving and childish." (3) "[c]reate some [false] information and get them to run with it."
The complaint lays out a dozen or so communications between the H&W partners and Team Themis, between "early November" and February 3, 2011, that make clear Themis was acting at the request and direction of H&W, and that H&W knew what the activities of Team Themis were.

Anonymous Hits Back

The plot was discovered by accident. On February 4, the CEO of one of the Team Themis firms told the Financial Times he had identified the leaders of Anonymous, a hacker collective that defends Wikileaks, and he warned they would be arrested. Anonymous quickly responded to that news, vigilante-style:
"within two days, Anonymous seized control of [the firm's] website, defaced its pages, extracted more than 70,000 company e-mails, deleted backup files, seized [the CEO's] Twitter account, and took down the founder's website rootkit.com. It then posted all those emails in a searchable form on the Internet."
And within those emails was information about the plot. Attorney Kevin Zeese, who filed the ethics complaint and serves on the board of one of the targeted groups commented on the plot's accidental discovery:
"Hopefully, it does not mean that these types of corporate cyber attacks and dirty tricks are widespread. I have heard from people in other movements, e.g. environmental, that they have faced these kinds of attacks...So, it may be a common tactic....This needs to be investigated and stopped as it is an attempt to prevent political action by citizens."
The FBI Notified

In a backhanded way, Zeese notes, the planned dirty tricks campaign was good news for his group, because "it shows we were being effective." And, he says, the planned campaign was not the first time H&W had targeted the group: "We know Hunton & WIlliams was active against us because when we published a press release on PR Newswire, they received a call from Hunton & Williams threatening them to the point where they refused to publish the release."

StopTheChamber appears to have been the victim of an earlier dirty tricks effort. "We also received numerous death threats via email when our project took action," Zeese says. "We decided the best response was to let the FBI know and to do so publicly. As soon as we went public in our response the threats stopped. It was like a switch being turned off."

In addition to the ethics complaint, Zeese says, StopTheChamber.com has reported those other activities to the FBI and asked it to investigate. The group is also speaking with its attorneys about possible legal actions against all the players in the plot, not just H&W.

A Long, Grueling Process

Litigation takes a long time, and ethics complaints are no different. They can take years to process, and unlike litigation, it's all done behind closed doors. Unfortunately if any disciplinary action is taken, it may or may not be made public. So it'll be a long time before this plays out, and even when it ends, we may never know -- unless, of course, Zeese and his group succeed in getting the big law firm partners' law licenses revoked.

That would be huge news, and perhaps the final nail in the coffin of the old power structure, where money dictates power. Money will of course still be powerful, but if Anonymous's hack can lead to the disbarment of three big law attorneys -- or even criminal prosecution, if the FBI decides to investigate -- computer skills may indeed be proved supreme.

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Wayne

For all of you that are keeping up with all of this, here is one more. Today I received a letter from Bank of America dated February 15th. In it, it starts out Dear Wayne XXXXX, Bank of America is committed to helping our customers. It goes on and says how they are in my area (60 miles away) and want to discuss options that may be available to help me obtain an affordable and sustainable home loan payment.
I really don't know what to say, I just feel like screaming. First they refused to tell me who owned my Loan, then they told me they are the holder of my Note, then they wrote me a letter stating that my Note went to MERS, and the whole time they have refuse to answer 2 QWR's I had sent them. I contend they don't even own the original Deed of Trust never mind the Original Note. My original lender says they sold my Note to Countrywide, yet Countrywide is not recorded on the Deed. Now tell me, If Countrywide is not on the Deed, meaning nothing recorded, how can Bank of America offer me anything? This is Fraud in the simplist of terms. Offering someone a contract from a contract they clearly don't own. Oh they now say MERS has the Note and they are the servicer ... That's funny, because when I went to MERS's Website and filled out the information to retrieve my information it says "NOTHING RECORDED". I tried it several different ways and each time it comes up "NOTHING RECORDED". Then I put my friends info in just like I did and it came up with his Note and all kinds of info. So I know I did right.
Again what is strange, is that this letter I recieved today has no return address except a Box number from Greensboro, NC. No offical Title on the envelope what so ever.
My thought on this is to call their number listed on the letter and ask them to have all the original documents there before I even speak with them and see how far that goes. Hell I might even bring my video camara with me if that happens. I am almost 99% sure that they don't have one shred of the Original Doc's and they can not produce the Note.
Your thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated. webnova@aol.com

February 26 2011 at 9:23 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Wayne's comment
davehyannis

ARE YOU CERTAIN THAT YOU ARE TALKING TO BAC ?

February 27 2011 at 2:33 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
jkennedy806

I got so mad at Wells Fargo after asking for my note 4 x's thru RESPA (Nov, Dcc., Jan. Feb.) In Jan. I wrote to the OCC thru Fed congressman charlie Dent's office, and I asked them to ask Wells Fargo where the note is? In addition, I asked State Senator Lisa Boscola to ask the State AG where's the note?? Nothing nothing, however, Wells got so mad cause I was asking the hard question that slapped sheriff sale on me. NOw it's off to fed bankruptcy court. Wells Fargo is no where on my deed or mortgage note. This is the BS I get from Wells Fargo. We were bought out by Norwest. I orginally went to Norwest Financial, Norwest bought out Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo is now the servicer, NOrwest is now Norwest Investments and Norwest Equity. Norwest now sells global derivatives. I went to court on Wed. to ask the local judge to hear me out -- filed a motion of reponsive pleading, Wells Fargo sent their skevy lawyer in and stopped due process. I have a constitutional right to be heard in court. So when the retired judge dismissed me, I told him he was the last rung on the local ladder before fed court. He didn't like that. but I didn't like being ignored either. Wayne I will write you. maybe we can help one another. These banks have done more harm to this country, the nation's people, the economy, the real estate industry, and I can go on ...it will be a long time to get it repaired.

February 27 2011 at 9:54 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
fmirabelli

Interesting article...filled with hearsay and without merit or factual information. I wonder who conceived this report: was it the attorney involved or liberals. Are they really any different ?

February 26 2011 at 9:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jbluhm1951

I don't believe this article, just my opinion. The United Chamber of Commerce is about helping businesses, and by doing so help create jobs. Those that are pro-business are also pro-jobs for workers. People have a hard time putting those to goals together, especially liberal democrats.

February 26 2011 at 3:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jkennedy806

The Justice system in this country is in shambles, due proces ha ha ha, Truth is now tainted -- deciet is more the avenue. When I can't go to a Zoning Hearing Board meeting w/o a lawyer to make sure my property rights are protected, or a Stock holder meeting w/o my lawyer to make sure my personal rights are not violated or have to contact a federal lawyer to help with financial matters with bnaks, mortgages notes (like where's mine???) it makes me wonder. Wells Fargo who has been dickin around with me, now is under investigaation. Makes me glad I didn't give them anymore money until I can get this situation fixed too probably with a lawyer.

February 26 2011 at 8:49 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
gjarmo

Nice try, Abigail. Your article is based strictly on hearsay, from the Stopthechamber.com people. You make it sound like the Chamber of Commerce were already tried and convicted. The Chamber of Commerce involved in death threats? A bunch of stodgy businessmen? Typical Leftist smear campaign, probably paid for by George Soros. You don't even mention why Stopthechamber was formed. Your article is typical anti-business rhetoric. The U.S. has the largest per capita lawyer density in the world, supported by an antiquated tort system, enforced by the Democrats in Congress, and we are supposed to put our trust in Stopthechamber? They were probably formed at the express command of Obama, our anti-business El Presidente. Ha-ha. You are funny.

February 26 2011 at 8:17 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
wstepp2250

Lawyers of this era (Last 10 years) will SELL THEIR SOULS and LIE about anything in an attempt to win a Case when the Money is available, and sware on a stack of Bibles because they don't be;ieve in the Bible. I recently had one help the Defendant prepare a 6 Page Statement stating I took a Golf Club and Beat a person and tried to Kill the Person then Beat another with the Club and ran others away. Reason for the Statement, to prevent State Employment in a field that would be responsible for inspecting the Defendant's Business therefore give negaative work References and then make it appear as if I was a danger to Society. The Statement was considered Work Product by a Judge in the Los Angeles County Courthouse of Santa Monica, Ca. Truth: The incident never happened, The Statement was total Defamation, when you have Deep Pockets the Pockets you can change the mind of a Judge's too as happened to me. I Accidently discovered their backroom dealings too but Money can also make the Courtroom Master Rule toward the Deep Pockets.
There is a need to expose and punishing these Clowns or the Legal System will become a Third World Circus.

February 26 2011 at 7:50 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply