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Secret donors are financing the lawsuit against President Donald Trump and White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney over who runs the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Deepak Gupta, the lead lawyer of a boutique law firm that launched its suit on behalf of CFPB acting director Leandra English, confirmed in a CNBC interview that English is not paying for his hourly fees, but rather unknown anonymous donors are.
Gupta refused to name who is funding the lawsuit, making it difficult to ascertain the motives, intentions, or any special interests of those underwriting the case.
The D.C. lawyer appeared caught off guard when CNBC hosts asked who was financing his effort. He stumbled over his words in his first answer and said some form of unidentified “structure” was being put in place to accept funds from anonymous donors.
“Well, uh, it’s, it’s not, um, Miss, um English, um, ah. There are ethics lawyers that we’ve consulted, and we have a structure set up that is with ethics rules and, um, we’ll and we’ll be talking about that once we have that,” he told CNBC.
When repeatedly asked who is paying for the case, which could go all the way to the Supreme Court, Gupta answered, “It’s just not appropriate for me to be talking about that right now.”
CNBC’s host asked Gupta if his firm is handling the case pro bono. “No. We’re not,” Gupta replied.
Gupta previously worked for Ralph Nader’s litigation group, which historically has always demanded openness and transparency from government entities.
Trump installed Mulvaney as CFPB acting director after former director Richard Cordray stepped down over the Thanksgiving weekend. Cordray named English his successor before stepping down, leading to the battle for control of the agency that is the brainchild of Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former President Barack Obama.
English claims she is “rightful acting director,” and the case is now before U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly.
CFPB did not finance the case and the bureau’s own lawyers do not support English’s argument.
Mary E. McLeod, the CFPB’s internal general counsel, said she sided with the White House in the dispute, according to the Washington Post.
“I advise all Bureau personnel to act consistently with the understanding that Director Mulvaney is the Acting Director of the CFPB,” she told employees.
Gupta repeatedly refused to identify any of the donors. His law firm, Gupta Wessler, is known as the “anti-Trump” law firm in the nation’s capital.
Former U.S. Attorney Joseph DiGenova said Gupta and English’s reliance on anonymous donors “really focuses on the dangers of not having full accountability for the expenditure of funds for this type of litigation.”
“The usual suspects like Styer and Soros could well be funding this. However, from a government accountability point, this is ‘Bad Government 101,” he said.
It is unclear if some of the financiers are billionaire liberal donors such as George Soros or Tom Steyer.
“The lack of transparency, which Democrats ordinarily would be all over it, I’m sure are just thrilled about this for the moment. It’s utterly disgraceful,” he added.
“We don’t know if some of the funds are coming from the financial institutions or organizations she’s regulating. We don’t know who it is. In which case, that would be criminal.”
DiGenova said the presiding judge could ask English who is financing her litigation effort.
The DCNF contacted Gupta on Monday, but he declined to return our calls.
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