The various scandals currently circling around the Obama administration are building, and as more information is revealed, the case seems to become more complex. In the scandal concerning the Associated Press, in which twenty of the news agency’s journalists had their phones hacked, the New York Times has uncovered an interesting parallel.
Machen is Not Involved in Just One Hacking Case
Ronald C. Machen Jr, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, revealed last week that his office had obtained phone records for the Associated Press journalists secretly. The news shocked the press, and came immediately in the wake of revelations that the IRS had targeted conservative groups in its oversight. Now it appears that this is not the first phone hacking case that Machen has been involved in.
Back when he was a partner at the law firm WillemHale, Machen was involved in a case in which an Allied Capital investigator had stolen the phone records of a prominent hedge fund manager who was critical of the company’s book keeping. Mr. Machen served as the chief external counselor for Allied Capital during the case.
David Einhorn had his phone stolen by Allied Capital operatives twice in the last decade, in 2004 and 2005. The founder of Greenlight Capital was fighting a campaign at the time to reveal the blurry accounting practices taking place at Allied Capital, a private equity investment firm and money lender.
Allied Capital has since disappeared, but the memory of the case clearly has not. In the case, an investigation was opened into the theft of the phone records, but nobody was ever convicted of the crime. Allied Capital has, however, admitted that one of its investigators was involved in the theft of the phone records.
The connection between the two cases appears to be tenuous, but there are some parallels. In the Allied Capital case, Mr. Machen was doing his job at the law firm he worked for. He represented his client. There were never any accusations that he was involved in the theft of the phone records, or that he knew anything about the theft before he was called in to consult on the case.
There is bound to be a huge amount of evidence and data about those involved in the AP phone hacking case dredged up in the coming weeks. Some of it, like this story, will offer an interesting insight into the ties between law firms and the U.S. government.