Exclusive: Hip-hop lawyer counts White House crashers and Pentagon official as clients
Paul W. Gardner, revealed as the lawyer for the alleged White House gatecrashers, has also claimed on several occasions to represent Michele S. Jones, the Defense Department official who communicated with the couple, Raw Story has found.
Jones reportedly exchanged emails with Tareq and Michaele Salahi, who insisted Tuesday on NBC’s Today Show it was “clear” that “we were invited.” Jones denied it in a statement issued by the White House, saying “I specifically stated that [the Salahis] did not have tickets…to any part of the evening’s activities. Even though I informed them of this, they still decided to come.”
Gardner wrote on his Twitter feed, on May 12, 2009: “client is being honored along with Sheryl Lee Ralph, Susan Taylor and Honorable Barbara Lee. My client is CSM Michele Jones!”
“CSM” is an apparent reference to Command Sergeant Major, the title Jones has held in the past.
A spokesperson from Gardner’s law firm declined to confirm to Raw Story whether Jones has been a client. “I’m afraid we’re not able to give out that information,” she said. Gardner did, however, tell The Daily Record Monday night he represents the Salahis, and has done so “for about three-and-a-half years.”
Gardner has also posted this picture of himself posing with Jones, on May 15, 2009, explicitly identifying her in the caption (Gardner is on the the far right and Jones is third-from-right).
Gardner, it seems, has influential connections in the entertainment industry and inside the Beltway. On September 5, 2008, he was pictured with then-Senator Barack Obama in what is described as “an exclusive VIP fundraiser” at musician Jon Bon Jovi’s New Jersey mansion.
Interestingly, records show Gardner donated $750 to the campaign of Obama’s opponent Hillary Clinton’s during the 2008 election primaries — but nothing to Obama then or during the general election.
Gardner’s Law Firm, Gardner Corporate & Entertainment Law Group, is described by Bryant McGill News as “one the the top entertainment and corporate law firms in the United States” and “trusted by some of the most prominent individuals and institutions in the world.” He was also listed in 2008 as a member of the New York County lawyers association.
The website Law Practice Today says Gardner first established connection with the music industry by “friending” Sean “Diddy” Combs on MySpace. “The rush of being the “friend” of a superstar like Combs inspired Gardner to add more and more friends to his list,” the site reads. “For the first three months, he was adding anyone and everyone he could find to his page.”
On his MySpace page, Gardner claims to have represented many hip-hop artists including, among others, OutKast & Michael “Blue” Williams, Da Bloc Incorporated and LOS, Scola, Kevin “Young City Chopper” Barnes, DJ P-Cutta and Ryan Banks. Among his 10,000 friends on MySpace are Gnarls Barkley, Black Eyes Peas, 50 Cent, and scores of other hip-hop and R&B artists — including, of course, Sean “Diddy” Combs.
A news release about a concert describes Jones as a friend of R&B artist Al B. Sure, although there is no evident connection between Gardner and Sure.
The Salahis have reportedly claimed they received an invitation to the Black Caucus event, which they have also been accused of gatecrashing, from “The Gardner Law Group” — the short name for Gardner’s group.
It is possible that Jones is a client at Gardner’s consulting firm “Gardner Consulting,” of which he is listed as president.
With additional research by Ron Brynaert and Muriel Kane