The Oregon State Bar has thrown out two ethics complaints against attorneys of the Arnold Law firm who are representing Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation leader Ammon Bundy.
The complaints questioned whether attorney Mike Arnold and his staff violated bar ethics by visiting the refuge during the occupation to deliver an advertisement flier to Bundy.
In a letter issued Tuesday, the state bar ruled there wasn’t sufficient basis to launch a full investigation.
“We have reviewed all the relevant materials submitted,” wrote bar attorney Troy Wood. “We conclude that there is no sufficient basis to warrant a referral to Disciplinary Counsel for further review.”
Wood stated that Arnold Law attorneys admitted to visiting the refuge and asking an occupier to deliver their flier for pro bono legal services to Bundy. Because the letter offered legal services for free, Wood said Arnold Law didn’t violate state bar rules.
Arnold said he expected the complaints to be dropped. He said people are trying to impede Bundy’s defense.
“We were surprised it took so long, but I think that’s just how the process works,” Arnold said. “The way it should be seen is that this is politically motivated, that there are folks that disagree with Ammon Bundy and his message, his ideas and his tactics.”
The state bar also said Arnold Law attorneys didn’t violate ethics rules by advising refuge occupiers to avoid breaking certain laws while they were still at the refuge.
“It is not misconduct for a lawyer to advise a client whether conduct is legal; nor does a lawyer engage in misconduct by advising a client to refrain from conduct that might be considered illegal,” Wood wrote.
A second pair of ethics complaints against Arnold are still under review. Those allege his firm has used social media to crowdsource excessive public records requests against government agencies.