Washington, DC – The porn star who claimed she was paid off by President Donald Trump is now claiming that she never gave attorney Michael Avenatti permission to sue the President for defamation on her behalf.
Stormy Daniels told the Daily Beast that in addition to taking legal matters into his own hands, her attorney also took the money that has been donated to her legal defense funds.
Daniels said Avenatti also recently set up another new fund without her knowledge.
“He has spoken on my behalf without my approval. He filed a defamation case against Donald Trump against my wishes. He repeatedly refused to tell me how my legal defense fund was being spent,” she complained.
“Now he has launched a new crowdfunding campaign using my face and name without my permission and attributing words to me that I never wrote or said,” Daniels contended.
She claimed her attorney controlled and managed all of the legal defense contributions given to her.
“For months I’ve asked Michael Avenatti to give me accounting information about the fund my supporters so generously donated to for my safety and legal defense. He has repeatedly ignored those requests,” Daniels wrote in a statement to the Daily Beast. “Days ago I demanded again, repeatedly, that he tell me how the money was being spent and how much was left. Instead of answering me, without my permission or even my knowledge Michael launched another crowdfunding campaign to raise money on my behalf. I learned about it on Twitter.”
Avenatti represents the adult-film actress in a lawsuit to void a non-disclosure agreement she signed with the President.
He also represented her in a related defamation suit that a judge dismissed in October – the lawsuit she now claims he filed on her behalf without her permission.
The judge ordered Daniels to pay President Trump’s $350,000 in legal fees in that case.
Daniels told the Daily Beast that she was still figuring out what to do about her legal representation going forward.
“I’m tremendously grateful to him for aggressively representing me in my fight to regain my voice. But in other ways Michael has not treated me with the respect and deference an attorney should show to a client,” she told the Daily Beast.
Avenatti sent a statement to the Daily Beast in response to his client’s allegations that ignored her assertions that he’d filed a lawsuit on her behalf without her approval, and focused on the financials.
“I am and have always been Stormy’s biggest champion. I have personally sacrificed an enormous amount of money, time and energy toward assisting her because I believe in her. I have always been an open book with Stormy as to all aspects of her cases and she knows that,” he wrote.
“The retention agreement Stormy signed back in February provided that she would pay me $100.00 and that any and all other monies raised via a legal fund would go toward my legal fees and costs. Instead, the vast majority of the money raised has gone toward her security expenses and similar other expenses,” Avenatti continued.
“The most recent campaign was simply a refresh of the prior campaign, designed to help defray some of Stormy’s expenses,” he explained.
Questioned further by the Daily Beast, Avenatti said that Daniels’ security detail had cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” and said he hasn’t taken a dime from the crowdfunding effort to pay his own fees.
A legal ethics professor from New York University (NYU) Law School said Avenatti could face serious legal and professional problems if Daniels’ allegations about the lawsuit turned out to be true.
“If he filed the case with her name when it was clear that she told him not to, then he could be sued for that,” NYU Professor Stephen Gillers told The Daily Beast. “He could be sued for malpractice. If true, she has a malpractice case against him. I emphasize if true. And if true, he would be subject to discipline but not as serious as disbarment.”
The Daily Beast has reported that Avenatti, who has said he was considering a run for President in 2020, already has his own financial and legal issues.
He owes millions of dollars in back taxes to the U.S. government, and tens of thousands to multiple landlords and other creditors.
Avenatti and his client, Julie Swetnick, were referred to the Department of Justice by the Senate Judiciary Committee in October for consideration of criminal charges after Swetnick gave contradicting accounts of her story about then-U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
The story Swetnick told in the affidavit Avenatti submitted on her behalf was very different from the account she gave NBC News in an interview a few days later.
On Nov. 14, Avenatti was arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence after a scene in a building lobby with his girlfriend, who appeared to have been beaten up.