In the latest salvo in Sen. Rand Paul’s ongoing public relations war against President Obama, the Kentucky senator filed a class-action lawsuit against the administration on Wednesday for using the NSA to violate the privacy rights of millions of Americans.
But almost as soon as the lawsuit hit the media, the Tea Party darling was immersed in another controversy, this time over the authorship of the language in the lawsuit.
It seems that in filing the lawsuit—which Rand calls the largest ever filed on behalf of the Bill of Rights—he and his attorney, former Virginia attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, may have plagiarized the work of another attorney whom Paul had hired to prepare the suit, but then abruptly disposed of when he decided to use Cuccinelli instead.
The lawsuit seeks to force the NSA to stop its controversial surveillance program and purge the records it has collected over the past five years.
“The court’s going to order these folks to stop doing what they’re doing, taking phone records, keeping them and searching them,” said Cuccinelli, who told reporters he fully expected the case to reach the Supreme Court over the next several years.
“We hope that when this path is all done, and we’re at the end of it, we’ll have pushed the federal government back across the line of trampling the Constitution yet again,” he said.
According to a story in the Washington Post by Dana Milbank, Paul— who already has been found guilty of plagiarizing speeches—had hired former Reagan administration lawyer Bruce Fein to draft a class-action suit against the NSA. But when he announced the suit, Fein’s name had been removed and replaced by Cuccinelli, who the Post points out isn’t even a member of the Washington,D.C. bar, and had to file a motion seeking an exception to allow him to argue the case there.
What Cuccinelli is, the Post notes, is another darling of the Tea Party.
“Fein, who has not been paid in full for his legal work by Paul’s political action committee, was furious that he had been omitted from the filing,” Milbank wrote in the Post.
At his news conference, Paul said 386,026 people have expressed support for his suit through an online petition.
“We believe that this lawsuit could conceivably represent hundreds of millions of people who have phones lines in this country or cellphones,” he said.
There are additional questions that journalists have raised about Paul’s suit: The same lawsuit had already been filed months ago by well-known conservative Larry Klayman, so why is Paul filing a duplicate suit? Why is the entire matter being run through Paul’s campaign operation instead of his Senate office—suggesting it’s all about politics, rather than real relief for the American people?