Kris Kobach may hire Donald Trump's attorney to work on investigation – The Topeka Capital-Journal
The attorney who suggested that former President Donald Trump would be immune from prosecution if he ordered the assassination of a political rival could soon work for Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach.
Kobach’s office has opened a secretive investigation into an unnamed firm in the pharmaceutical industry, leading to a request for proposals for an outside law firm to take over the investigation and any resulting litigation.
The RFP closed Jan. 29 with only one bidder: James Otis Law Group LLC, of St. Louis, Missouri.
When asked Tuesday about the subject of the investigation, Kobach told reporters, “That will become evident at the completion of the investigation.”
Dean John Sauer founded the law firm in 2015 before going on to serve as solicitor general to Missouri Attorneys General Josh Hawley and Eric Schmitt, and briefly as Andrew Bailey’s deputy attorney general for special litigation. Sauer didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Sauer has since worked on Trump’s criminal defense in federal court in Washington, D.C., for charges connected to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. Trump’s legal team has argued that he is immune to federal charges of conspiring to interfere in the 2020 election because his actions came while he was president.
Sauer made national headlines last month when he argued that Trump would immune from prosecution in the hypothetical scenario where he as president ordered Navy SEALs to assassinate a political rival and he wasn’t impeached and convicted by Congress.
The federal appeals panel unanimously ruled against Trump on Tuesday.
The Kansas Department of Administration, which oversees the contract procurement process, released the list of bidders Feb. 2 after the bidding period closed the previous Monday. Just because the James Otis Law Group is the sole bidder doesn’t guarantee it will ultimately be awarded the contract, and even if it does win the contract, it may take weeks or months to be finalized.
It is not public whether other law firms expressed interest but ultimately decided not to bid after finding out what the scope of the investigation was.
Prospective bidders were allowed to get additional information in order to evaluate whether they would submit a bid, but they are required to keep that information confidential.
What is known about the investigation, according to the RFP, is that it “is in the early stages,” involves “alleged unfair or unconscionable acts or practices involving the drug manufacturer industry” and is targeted at “a particular firm.”
“We don’t mention the precise target that we’re looking at in here, simply because the nature of the investigation is such that we would prefer to keep who the target is relatively under wraps for the time being,” chief deputy attorney general Dan Burrows told lawmakers in December.
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The Legislative Budget Committee informally approved the RFP in December with little discussion. Under state law, that committee must have the chance to review an RFP for legal services where attorney fees could exceed $1 million, but the RFP was initially posted to the state supplier portal before being taken down and presented to the committee.
The RFP states the purpose of bidding out the contract “is to seek competition,” but only one competitor bid.
That was also the case last summer, when Kobach rebid an outside counsel contract for natural gas price gouging litigation. The sole bidder that was ultimately awarded the contract was Hilgers Graben, a Nebraska-based law firm co-founded by current Nebraska Attorney General Mike Hilgers.
The new RFP also required prospective bidders to propose a contingency fee. That requirement comes after Kobach’s office has previously been critical of contingency fees, including the one that Morgan & Morgan was working under before Kobach fired them from the natural gas case.
Details on the fees proposed by the James Otis Law Group won’t be publicly available unless a contract is awarded.
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Jason Alatidd is a Statehouse reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on X @Jason_Alatidd.