Commenter bob nailed this prediction. Dennis Montgomery is suing the ACLU, according to a press release from Montgomery’s attorney Larry Klayman. The case is filed in Miami federal court (Case No. 15-cv-22452). In the PR piece Klayman describes Dennis Montgomery as an “NSA whistleblower.” I’d be interested in knowing exactly what whistle he blew and when.
This case is fallout from the Melendres v. Arpaio contempt proceedings, where the ACLU is defending Plaintiffs. Dennis Montgomery became tangentially associated with the case when it was learned in testimony before Judge G. Murray Snow that Sheriff Arpaio had employed Montgomery in some scheme to investigate alleged CIA snooping into Maricopa County residents’ bank accounts, alleged emails between judges (including Snow) and the justice department, and alleged government wiretapping of the Sheriff’s Office. Montgomery claimed to have telecommunications data he collected on behalf of the CIA. Arpaio himself said that what Montgomery provided was “junk.”
If what Montgomery says about taking CIA data is true, then there are several crimes he could be charged with. Montgomery makes himself out to be a whistleblower in the mode of Edward Snowden. Others label him a fraud.
My inexpert analysis of the 55-page complaint boils it down to two actionable allegations:
- The ACLU used information provided to them by Dennis Montgomery under an attorney-client relationship in a way adverse to Montgomery. This point remains “speculative” in the complaint, with no specific information being cited. The attorneys that Montgomery consulted with are not the attorneys on the Melendres case in Arizona; it’s not even the same ACLU chapter, Montgomery is suing them anyway.
- Defamation. ACLU counsel Dan Pochoda said to a reporter, “This guy [Sheriff Arpaio’’] hired a person [Dennis Montgomery] previously found to be a con man.” (The bracketed material was added by Klayman.) The New York Times article does name Montgomery before including the Pochoda quote. Times reporter Fernanda Santos said, based on her own research:
“Mr. Montgomery[‘s] reputation, easily uncovered with a cursory search, includes ample allegations of deception. Federal officials came to believe that he had sold antiterrorism technology that proved to be a hoax.”
In order to withstand a motion to dismiss, a complaint must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” It seems to me that the “factual matter” is pretty thin in this instance. No cited evidence whatever indicates that there was any communication of privileged information between the ACLU in Washington or New York and the ACLU of Arizona. As for being a con man, many sources had published that determination previously.
Some have speculated on this blog that the suit is nothing more than a delaying tactic, an attempt to stay proceedings in the Melendres case while this latest nuisance is dealt with, particularly since Klayman represents Arpaio in another matter.
- Read the complaint
- Make a tax-deductible gift to the ACLU Foundation
- Biography of ACLU defendant Michael German
- Understanding Fiduciary Duty – Florida Bar Journal
- ABA Rule 1.8 Duties to Current Clients
- ABA Rule 1.9 Duties to Former Clients
- Testimony of Michael German before the Senate Judiciary Committee