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Friday, March 17, 2006

Who Clinton and Mario Gabelli Share

by: Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief

Who is Lanny Breuer? Today he is the defense attorney representing mutual fund mogul Mario Gabelli, but you may have heard his name before.

Breuer -- who is a partner at the Washington, D.C. firm of Covington & Burling -- was, afterall, a special counsel to President William Clinton. In that role he argued the President's impeachment defense on the Senate floor. Since then Breuer has also represented Sandy Berger, the former Clinton adminstration official accused of secreting records out of the National Archives in his socks (and other places).

More recently, he has represented Yevgeny Adamov. Adamov is the former Russian Minister of Atomic Energy. Last May Adamov was arrested in Switzerland at the request of both the United States and Russian governments. Each wanted Adamov sent its way so he can be prosecuted for allegedly laundering $9 million in nuclear aid funds through American front firms. Interestingly, Adamov opted for the Russian court.

That choice is not, of course, an option for Mario Gabelli. Indeed, Gabelli's case is a low stakes one compared for Breuer compared to the Clinton and Adamov defenses. Afterall, the only thing at stake in the civil case is cash, and observers seem to agree that even if Gabelli loses his case, his core asset management business should escape unscathed.

That is not stopping Breuer from taking Gabelli's case to the court of public opinion, though. Albeit in a lower profile approach that befits a lower profile case.

Friday morning Breuer took his defense of Gabelli to the pages of the Corporate Crime Reporter of all places. Breuer's defense for Gabelli is that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) knew all along the role Gabelli played in some of the companies bidding for spectrum rights and that the FCC was happy to get his cash.

"It is a profoundly unfair case," Breuer tells the paper. "It was well known by the FCC that deep pockets marry up with new entrepreneurs to come up with the type of funding that was necessary for these kinds of cases. The FCC was fully aware of Mr. Gabelli's involvement and encouraged it actively. And now years later, to accuse Mr. Gabelli of doing something wrong is the height of hypocrisy and unfairness." 

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