Editor’s note: This is an updated version of an earlier story headlined “Rand Paul accused of plagiarizing his NSA lawsuit.”
Did Rand Paul lift legal work from a celebrated conservative lawyer without fully paying him? The attorney in question says he didn’t.
On Wednesday, the Kentucky Republican senator announced he was teaming up with former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and the conservative activist group Freedomworks to sue the NSA over its telephone metadata collection program. Although there are already several pending legal challenges, Paul’s suit is unique in that it’s a class-action lawsuit, driving home his political argument that the program amounts to a violation of all Americans’ constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure. Paul has encouraged supporters to sign up as part of the lawsuit at his political action committee’s (known as RANDPAC) website, which asks for donations after requesting contact information from the user.
Late Wednesday, the Washington Post published a story quoting Mattie Fein, identified as the ex-wife and spokesperson of conservative attorney Bruce Fein, saying that Paul and Cuccinnelli had used Bruce Fein’s legal work without fully compensating him, and that the filing in the lawsuit was identical to one Fein had worked on for Paul’s PAC.
A spokesperson for RANDPAC forwarded an email from Fein denying Mattie Fein’s allegations. “Mattie Lolavar was not speaking for me,” Fein said in the email. “Her quotes were her own and did not represent my views. I was working on a legal team, and have been paid for my work.” Bruce Fein confirmed to msnbc that the email was from him.
The Kentucky Senator has previously come under criticism for lifting work without attribution in op-eds, speeches, and even his book. But when it comes to his lawsuit against the NSA, the accusation appears to be without merit.