He wasn't even a horse lawyer
He's barely a fucking lawyer.
Affirmative action at work
FEMA's Brown padded resume: hardly a lawyer, either
by Goldy at HorsesAss [Subscribe]
Thu Sep 8th, 2005 at 15:11:48 PDT
FEMA director Mike Brown was originally brought into the agency as its general counsel, under the auspices of his old college roommate (and Bush fixer) Joe Allbaugh. By now we all know that Brown is an emergency manager who knows nothing about managing emergencies, and a former horse association commissioner who knew nothing about horses... but apparently, he was also a general counsel who was hardly even a real lawyer.
In a devastating expose published today in The New Republic, University of Colorodo-Boulder law professor Paul Campos determines to answer the question "of exactly what, given Brown's real biography, he is qualified to do." The answer, not surprisingly, is very little.
To understand the Mike Brown saga, one has to know something about the intricacies of the legal profession, beginning with the status of the law school he attended. Brown's biography on FEMA's website reports that he's a graduate of the Oklahoma City University School of Law. This is not, to put it charitably, a well-known institution. For example, I've been a law professor for the past 15 years and have never heard of it. Of more relevance is the fact that, until 2003, the school was not even a member of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS)--the organization that, along with the American Bar Association, accredits the nation's law schools. Most prospective law students won't even consider applying to a non-AALS law school unless they have no other option, because many employers have a policy of not considering graduates of non-AALS institutions. So it's fair to say that Brown embarked on his prospective legal career from the bottom of the profession's hierarchy.
According to Campos, Brown received his J.D. in 1981, and spent the next couple years representing the interests of a "prominent local family" in Enid, Oklahoma, followed by an 18-month stint at a local law firm (that no longer exists.) But it appears that by 1987 he had already more or less abandoned his legal career. From 1991 to 2001 he served as commissioner of judges and stewards for the International Arabian Horse Association, a full-time position from which he resigned under pressure.
What, then, are we to make of the claim in Brown's FEMA biography that, prior to joining the Agency, he had spent most of his professional career practicing law in Colorado? Normally, an attorney practicing law in a state for ten years would have left a record of his experience in public documents. But just about the only evidence of Brown's Colorado legal career is the Web page he submitted to Findlaw.com, an Internet site for people seeking legal representation. There, he lists himself as a member of the "International Arabian Horse Association Legal Dept." and claims to be competent to practice law across a dizzying spectrum of specialties--estate planning, family law, employment law for both plaintiffs and defendants, real-estate law, sports law, labor law, and legislative practice. With all this expertise, it's all the more striking that one can't find any other evidence of Brown's legal career in Colorado.
Campos further deconstructs Brown's FEMA bio, which he impressively claims to have served as "a bar examiner on ethics and professional responsibility for the Oklahoma Supreme Court and as a hearing examiner for the Colorado Supreme Court." Campos' translation?
In Oklahoma, he graded answers to bar exam questions, and, in Colorado, he volunteered to serve on the local attorney disciplinary board.
Campos' summation is equally devastating, and a pointed critique of the Bush administration.
When Brown left the iaha four years ago, he was, among other things, a failed former lawyer--a man with a 20-year-old degree from a semi-accredited law school who hadn't attempted to practice law in a serious way in nearly 15 years and who had just been forced out of his job in the wake of charges of impropriety. At this point in his life, returning to his long-abandoned legal career would have been very difficult in the competitive Colorado legal market. Yet, within months of leaving the IAHA , he was handed one of the top legal positions in the entire federal government: general counsel for a major federal agency. A year later, he was made its number-two official, and, a year after that, Bush appointed him director of FEMA.
It's bad enough when attorneys are named to government jobs for which their careers, no matter how distinguished, don't qualify them. But Brown wasn't a distinguished lawyer: He was hardly a lawyer at all. When he left the IAHA , he was a 47-year-old with a very thin resumé and no job. Yet he was also what's known in the Mafia as a "connected guy." That such a person could end up in one of the federal government's most important positions tells you all you need to know about how the Bush administration works--or, rather, doesn't.
Once again, this has always been a story about cronyism, and the human lives it may have cost. And now we know that not only did Brown lack the qualifications to lead FEMA, he also lacked the legal qualifications to serve as its general counsel, his first position at the agency. It's not just Brown who should be fired... it's the incompetent president who appointed him.
TIME is running even more on this:
In response, Nicol Andrews, deputy strategic director in FEMA's office of public affairs, insists that while Brown began as an intern, he became an "assistant city manager" with a distinguished record of service. "According to Mike Brown," she says, "a large portion [of the points raised by TIME] is very inaccurate."
Brown's lack of experience in emergency management isn't the only apparent bit of padding on his resume, which raises questions about how rigorously the White House vetted him before putting him in charge of FEMA. Under the "honors and awards" section of his profile at FindLaw.com — which is information on the legal website provided by lawyers or their offices—he lists "Outstanding Political Science Professor, Central State University". However, Brown "wasn't a professor here, he was only a student here," says Charles Johnson, News Bureau Director in the University Relations office at the University of Central Oklahoma (formerly named Central State University). "He may have been an adjunct instructor," says Johnson, but that title is very different from that of "professor." Carl Reherman, a former political science professor at the University through the '70s and '80s, says that Brown "was not on the faculty." As for the honor of "Outstanding Political Science Professor," Johnson says, "I spoke with the department chair yesterday and he's not aware of it." Johnson could not confirm that Brown made the Dean's list or was an "Outstanding Political Science Senior," as is stated on his online profile.
Speaking for Brown, Andrews says that Brown has never claimed to be a political science professor, in spite of what his profile in FindLaw indicates. "He was named the outstanding political science senior at Central State, and was an adjunct professor at Oklahoma City School of Law."
Under the heading of "Professional Associations and Memberships" on FindLaw, Brown states that from 1983 to the present he has been director of the Oklahoma Christian Home, a nursing home in Edmond. But an administrator with the Home, told TIME that Brown is "not a person that anyone here is familiar with." She says there was a board of directors until a couple of years ago, but she couldn't find anyone who recalled him being on it. According to FEMA's Andrews, Brown said "he's never claimed to be the director of the home. He was on the board of directors, or governors of the nursing home." However, a veteran employee at the center since 1981 says Brown "was never director here, was never on the board of directors, was never executive director. He was never here in any capacity. I never heard his name mentioned here."
The FindLaw profile for Brown was amended on Thursday to remove a reference to his tenure at the International Arabian Horse Association, which has become a contested point.
Brown's FindLaw profile lists a wide range of areas of legal practice, from estate planning to family law to sports. However, one former colleague does not remember Brown's work as sterling. Stephen Jones, a prominent Oklahoma lawyer who was lead defense attorney on the Timothy McVeigh case, was Brown's boss for two-and-a-half years in the early '80s. "He did mainly transactional work, not litigation," says Jones. "There was a feeling that he was not serious and somewhat shallow." Jones says when his law firm split, Brown was one of two staffers who was let go.
posted by Steve @ 12:01:00 AM