Attorney claims Madore’s counsel is conflicted
The ongoing drama over whistleblower complaints and investigations surrounding Clark County Councilor David Madore has entered the phase where one attorney is attempting to use the threat of an arcane legal proceeding to get another attorney to back down.
Yesterday, Greg Ferguson, the attorney representing Clark County Planning Director Oliver Orjiako in his whistleblower complaint against Madore, sent a letter to Nicholas Power, the embattled councilor’s attorney. The letter advised Power that he had created a conflict of interest and should exit the case.
The letter cites a Washington court rule that prohibits attorneys from acting as both “advocates” and “witnesses” for their clients. Specifically, the letter argues that Power violated this rule when he claimed that an investigation conducted by lawyer Rebecca Dean into Orjiako’s whistleblower complaint against Madore was biased. Power said the letter’s assertions are baseless and the county has mistreated Madore and failed to uphold its processes.
“I think that Ferguson is really barking up the wrong tree,” Power.
During a council meeting in July, Madore read “a detailed written statement into the record” that was authored by Power, according to Ferguson’s letter. The statement, according to the letter, included Power’s “observations of, and interactions with, outside investigator Rebecca Dean that you contend demonstrated her clear bias toward your client in connection with her independent investigation.”
“Your assertion was, in substance, that Ms. Dean’s demeanor toward you and unwillingness to follow your instructions amounted to proof that the investigation was ‘rigged,” Ferguson wrote.
The letter goes on to argue that Power had acted as a “central fact witness” and continuing on the case could cause him to run afoul of court rules. Ferguson also took aim at a recent petition filed by Power seeking a court order declaring the prosecuting attorney’s office was too conflicted to give Madore unbiased advice and the county should fork over money to give the councilor his own separate legal counsel. That separate, county-funded counsel would be Power. But Ferguson writes that even if the petition was granted, Power couldn’t serve in that capacity because of the purported conflict.
Power called the letter from Ferguson “peculiar,” noting that neither attorney has been involved in each other’s cases until now. He said the Dean investigation is merely the “backstory” for the petition, which argues that the prosecuting attorney’s office has effectively sided against Madore during the county council’s political squabbles. Power also said that he’s “absolutely confident” he’s not conflicted.
“Lawyers act as witnesses all the time and we are always submitting declarations to the court,” he said. “It’s totally common to comment on what’s occurring with your side.”
Power said regardless of what you think of Madore’s politics, as an elected official, he’s entitled to unconflicted legal counsel. He also sharply criticized a recent report that concluded that Madore and Councilor Tom Mielke violated the Washington Open Public Meetings Act, calling it a “joke” that was severely lacking in evidence.
“Clark County needs to get away from politically driven legal conclusions and back to adhering to process,” he said. “It’s just Un-American. It’s Un-American what they are doing.”