Justice Department asks about possible conflict of interest between Sidney Powell and Oath Keepers

In a court filing on Wednesday, the Justice Department asked Judge Amit Mehta to look at whether there is a conflict of interest over some of the cases of the Oath Keepers.

According to the filing, there could be conflict because multiple attorneys for the Oath Keepers have been funded by Sidney Powell's legal fund Defending the Republic.

It was reported in March that Powell was secretly funding the legal defense of the Oath Keepers after her legal defense fund raised at least $15 million as of Aug. 2021. Starting in Oct. 2021, Powell began funding a defense attorney for Kelly Meggs, a member of the Oath Keepers who is charged with seditious conspiracy.

In an interview, Meggs' lawyer Jonathon Moseley, claimed he knew of “at least three or four other defendants who have that arrangement." One of those people is Stewart Rhodes, the group's founder, according to Oath Keepers counsel Kellye SoRelle.

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Powell's group has been selling T-shirts, drink coasters, highball glasses and other things while also asking for donations. There has been no accounting of where the money was going up until the March report.

"Such tactics have raised eyebrows among some attorneys representing members of the Oath Keepers who are not receiving outside funding," BuzzFeed reported. "They question whether the unorthodox legal filings are hurting, rather than helping, their case. The filings have also brought rebukes from the federal judge overseeing the case and, in the case of Moseley, a threat of sanction."

Legal fees being paid for aren't unheard of. Kyle Rittenhouse reportedly raised millions and funded $2 million for his murder acquittal after killing two people. Rich conservative Peter Thiel bankrolled Hulk Hogan when he sued Gawker.

According to the filing, the DOJ wrote:

"DC Rule 1.8(e) provides that "[a] lawyer shall not accept compensation for representing a client from one other than the client," unless each of the following three conditions are met: (1) The client gives informed consent after consultation; (2) There is no interference with the lawyer's independence of professional judgment or with the client-lawyer relationship; and (3) Information related to representation of a client is protected as required by Rule 1.6."

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"The government is filing this motion because it has an interest and an obligation to ensure it represents its clients, the United States, completely and diligently," the filing continues. "Those duties include raising potential conflicts with the Court as they arise, ensuring that defendants and third parties are adequately advised of their rights, and protecting the record by involving the Court in the process of addressing a potential conflict before it undermines a proceeding and a defendant's right to competent and conflict-free representation."

Legal analyst Marcy Wheeler noted that there are others represented by the same legal teams, citing Ryan Samsel. She noted if lawyer William Shipley is getting money from Powell it would "explain ... a lot." Shipley has represented several Jan. 6 defendants, including the so-called QAnon Shaman.

Read the full court filing here.