Byline: Kris Olson
Though complaining about alleged misdeeds by President Donald J. Trump or his associates is now old hat to Brookline attorney J. Whitfield Larrabee, the complaint he filed Jan. 31 with New York Attorney General Letitia "Tish" A. James is different, he says.
"It's unusual for anybody to uncover a crime of which the public is not aware," Larrabee says.
That alleged crime? The unlicensed practice of law.
Back in June 2016, Larrabee learned that the Donald Trump Foundation had donated $25,000 three years earlier to an organization working to assist the reelection campaign of Florida AG Pam Bondi. That led to the first of what has since been dozens of complaints about Trump and his associates to AGs, election and ethics offices, and boards of bar overseers, among others.
This time, Larrabee is alleging a violation of N.Y. Jud. L. 495, which makes it a misdemeanor for corporations to engage in the practice of law, and for officers, trustees, directors, agents or employees to directly or indirectly assist corporations in the practice of law. Larrabee's complaint suggests that Trump, his sons Donald Jr. and Eric, and the campaign offered just such illegal assistance.
With "a little bit of help from confidential sources," Larrabee says he was pointed to the reports that Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. filed with the Federal Election Commission, which show a series of disbursements totaling $178,300 to the Trump Corporation for "legal consulting."
Larrabee believes the payments may relate to the services of Jill Martin, Trump Organization assistant general counsel. In February 2018, Martin filed an order to prevent adult film star Stephanie Clifford, a.k.a. Stormy Daniels, from disclosing details of her alleged affair with the president, according to press reports.
Newsweek reported that Martin was listed on the filing related to confidential arbitration proceedings in Los Angeles as counsel for EC, LLC, the company that Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen established in 2016 to funnel $130,000 in hush money to Daniels.
Larrabee's complaint notes that the FEC schedules also show perfectly legitimate payments for "legal consulting" to law firms, including one to Jones Day for $322,981.09 on July 20, 2018.
"With the exception of payments for legal consulting to The Trump Corporation, the other payments for legal consulting reported by the campaign were made to law firms that are...