Stormy Daniels has so far raised almost $580,000 through a to cover legal costs in her ongoing lawsuit—which has now become three lawsuits—against Donald Trump and his personal lawyer Michael Cohen. But an Orange County, California, lawyer who formerly worked with Michael Avenatti, who is now Daniels’ attorney, says that crowdsourced money should belong to him.
In May, Jason Frank—a former associate at the law firm Eagan Avenatti—won a lawsuit in which he alleged that the firm, which was the run by Avenatti, stiffed him out of $4.85 million in fees, according to a report in the .
On Monday, Frank—who declined to comment for the Times report—filed documents with federal bankruptcy judge Catherine Bauer, asking her to force Avenatti to hand over his legal fees from 54 separate cases to him. The Daniels case was one of those, according to a report by .
As a result, Frank claims that the cash raised on Daniels’ crowdfunding page, on the legal crowdsourcing site , should rightfully go to him, not Avenatti.
Avenatti has also stated, on his , that the CrowdJustice campaign is the primary source of funding for Daniels’ case.
“Be clear: the only source of outside funds for the legal fight we are waging is the http://crowdjustice.org site and Ms. Daniels’ personal funds,” Avenatii wrote on April 30. “No PACs, no political party, no special interests, no fat cat donors. The haters need to come up with a new conspiracy theory.”
Based on Avenatti's claim in the April 30 tweet, losing the crowdsourced funding would clearly have a devastating affect on Daniels’ ongoing cases against Trump and Cohen.
Avenatti scoffed at Frank’s claims, telling the Times that he represents Daniels through his new law firm, Avenatti & Associates, which has no legal connection to Eagan Avanetti, the lawyer said. Because the two firms are not linked and Eagan Avenatti has never represented Daniels, Frank has no legal claim on the crowdfunded cash, Avenatti said.
As of Thursday, June 14, 16,609 people had donated a total of $578,228 to Daniels’ legal defense, an average pledge of approximately $35 per donor.
“I am attempting to speak honestly and openly to the American people about my relationship with now President Donald Trump and the intimidation and tactics used against me,” Daniels says in her pitch for donations on the CrowdJustice page.
Frank reportedly worked at the Eagan Avenatti firm from 2009 to 2016. The firm had a long run of successes, winning more than $400 million in judgments and lawsuit settlements, according to a report. But the law firm was forced into bankruptcy last year over a small debt of about $28,000 owed to a man in Florida who says that he performed some type of fact-gathering services for the firm. The reasons why his claim caused Eagan Avenatti to go into an “involuntary” Chapter 11 bankruptcy remain largely unclear.
But when Eagan Avenatti emerged from the bankruptcy earlier this year, Frank was the firm’s single largest creditor.
Photo via Showtime Network screen capture