The Georgia Bar Association should investigate Donald Trump-allied attorney Stefan Passantino for allegedly trying to obstruct the House investigation on Jan. 6, an advocacy group said Thursday.
Passantino broke the rules of professional ethics by advising former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchinson not to speak truthfully and giving the House panel investigating Project 65’s allegations on Jan. 6 as little information as possible to provide.
Georgia prosecutors should exercise “reasonable discipline” for efforts to “prevent a necessary investigation into a riot,” the group said in a letter to the bar association.
The 65 Project was launched last year to target lawyers they allege abused the court system to overturn the 2020 election. Democratic advisors such as Hillary Clinton ally David Brock, who founded Media Matters for America, advise the group.
The Project 65 letter is based on behind-closed-door testimonies released in December, in which Hutchinson claimed Passantino asked her to mislead the panel about some of former President Trump’s actions after the 2020 election.
Passantino’s attorney, Ross Garber, said in a statement the letter was “frivolous and ill-informed.”
“This letter is not from Ms. Hutchinson or any of Mr. Passantino’s other clients, nor from any official agency,” Garber said. “It’s a transparent attempt to smear a lawyer who has had an outstanding 30-year career.”
Passantino is a former Trump White House ethics attorney who advised Hutchinson in his post-administration role as an attorney at boutique Elections LLC. He was also a partner at the Milwaukee-based law firm Michael Best & Friedrich, whose list includes former Trump White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.
Hutchinson later replaced Passantino with attorneys from Alston & Bird. Passantino left Michael Best following the disclosure of Hutchinson’s allegations.
He remains an attorney at Elections LLC, which he helped found in 2019 to advise Trump’s 2020 campaign and other Republican candidates.
According to federal data, Elections LLC earned about $2 million from Trump-affiliated political action committees in 2022, including a $1 million payment in May from the Make America Great Again PAC.
The 65 project
In addition to Passantino, The 65 Project’s targets also included John Eastman, the Trump-affiliated attorney who is said to have orchestrated the effort that culminated in the Jan. 6 attack, and former Foley & Lardner partner Cleta Mitchell and attorney Alan Dershowitz.
The group said Thursday it also filed complaints against four attorneys who allegedly helped Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake in her attempts to contest the 2022 election results.
Project 65’s Passantino letter went to the General Counsel of the State Bar of Georgia, which investigates and prosecutes ethical claims. The Georgia Supreme Court has ultimate authority over attorney discipline.