Andrew McCabe, former Deputy Director of the FBI who was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions little more than a day before he was set to retire and receive his pension, was recently the recipient of the bountiful generosity of good Samaritans who donated to his legal defense fund via a GoFundMe account set up by “friends.” (The account ceased taking donations on April 2, transferring that task to a “more formal legal defense fund”.)
It’s a tall order making McCabe, a wealthy Washington attorney, appear a destitute victim in need of financial help; but that, indeed, is what these “friends” managed to accomplish, raising over a half million dollars for poor old Andy.
So who were these grand pals that helped McCabe cover the potential costs of lying to Congress?
None other than a K Street PR and consulting firm with ties to the Obama administration called The Bromwich Group.
Melissa Schwartz serves as McCabe’s current spokesperson and is the current chief operating officer of the firm, which was started by Michael R. Bromwich, former director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management under President Barack Obama (and Inspector General for the Department of Justice under President Bill Clinton, for what it’s worth).
Oh, and this part, reported by Dan Abram’s Law & Crime, will turn out to be important: “Employed by the law firm Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck, Untereiner & Sauber LLP, Bromwich also currently serves as Andrew McCabe’s lead attorney.”
From Law & Crime:
Bromwich has said little–aside from expressing gratitude on McCabe’s behalf–about the wildly successful fundraiser. Schwartz, on the other hand, has been dogged in her support for and promotion of McCabe’s GoFundMe campaign. Schwartz initially took to social media in order to discredit non-sanctioned crowdfunding accounts allegedly set up on McCabe’s behalf.
Please help circulate: while it is a kind gesture, there is no "gofundme" or other crowdfunding account for Andrew McCabe. Because of the outpouring of support, we are exploring potential options for a legal defense fund. More to come.
— Melissa Schwartz (@MSchwartz3) March 17, 2018
And then later, Schwartz seemed to indicate that an “official” fundraising account had been created.
Correct. We launched the official campaign today.
— Melissa Schwartz (@MSchwartz3) March 30, 2018
But there may be a hitch, according to Law & Crime, to Andy’s friends setting up fundraising accounts, given they are ultimately raising money to pay themselves:
Ben Mathis-Lilley, writing in Slate, noted a potential conflict of interest here. He writes:
In other words, the PR and lobbying firm Andrew McCabe’s lawyer founded is helping promote the small-donor fundraising effort to pay Andrew McCabe’s lawyer.
Law&Crime reached out to both Schwartz and The Bromwich Group. Schwartz disputed that The Bromwich Group was a lobbying firm of any sort–no registered lobbyists are currently employed there and Schwartz said the firm doesn’t engage in any unofficial lobbying either.
But who is the “we” that started the legal defense fund? Schwartz confirmed in an email that The Bromwich Group did assist in setting up the GoFundMe on McCabe’s behalf.
The entire Law & Crime report is worth a read. But the money shot is definitely this nugget at the end:
“When asked to whom exactly the raised [GoFundMe] funds would go – if not Bromwich – Schwartz declined to answer.”