By Corinne Murdock |
Democratic leadership and Biden officials split with their go-to election lawyer, Marc Elias; a 2021 Supreme Court loss from Arizona served as a major catalyst for the breakup. In that case, Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, the court effectively gutted the federal Voting Rights Act by upholding Arizona’s restrictions on out-of-precinct voting and ballot harvesting.
Although Elias and Democratic leaders parted ways in April, it wasn’t until this past week that details of the split came to light.
According to unnamed sources who spoke with Axios, Elias went rogue in the Biden administration’s eyes: filing lawsuits without notice or consent, with Biden leaders only learning of them via social media or mainstream reporting; racking up large bills, such as the $20+ million payout from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Biden campaign for defending the 65 lawsuits challenging the 2020 election results; and public criticism of a bipartisan election bill crafted by key Biden leadership and Democrats.
Elias’ tactics also differed from the reported desires of Biden leadership. While Elias viewed all fights as worth taking up, Biden officials wanted to be more selective.
Elias was a longtime legal bulldog for the DNC. In 2016, Elias served as general counsel for the 2016 campaign of presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Following Clinton’s loss, Elias served as a principal player in the Russiagate scandal. As Clinton’s general counsel, Elias billed for his hire of the opposition research firm, Fusion GPS, that created the Steele dossier: the Russian collusion allegations against former President Donald Trump leaked to Buzzfeed ten days before Trump’s inauguration that became a shadow over Trump’s entire presidency.
In 2020, Elias’ work resulted in key reforms to election law that lent to Democratic victories and the defense of challenges to President Joe Biden’s election.
As AZ Free News reported last November, Elias’ firm launched in 2021, Elias Law Group, was a listed address for the Black Lives Matter headquarters. The firm stated in the latest BLM’s IRS filing that it maintains all of BLM’s books and records. According to Federal Elections Commission (FEC) records, the Black Lives Matter PAC paid Elias’ firm over $14,800 from January to December of last year. Per their latest FEC filing on Monday, BLM has paid Elias’ firm nearly $3,000 so far this year.
One of the other main recipients of the BLM PAC’s disbursements is Premier Political Compliance founded and led by the former compliance director Christine Neville of the Perkins Coie firm, where Elias served as partner prior to launching his own firm. Both Neville and Elias departed Perkins Coie to launch their respective firms in 2021.
Elias has increasingly positioned himself as a public figure on the topic of election law and, as evident by working with BLM, other social issues. He has appeared in numerous interviews and maintained a consistent social media presence.
Last year, however, Elias deleted all tweets prior to April 4 without explanation. Around that time, federal investigators began to close in on those behind Russiagate. About a month before Elias purged his Twitter, the FEC fined the DNC and Clinton $113,000 for misrepresenting payments for opposition research used to create Russiagate.
Biden’s former chief of staff and re-election campaign leader, Ron Klain, said that relations between Elias and Biden leaders remain amicable despite the split.