Lanny Davis

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Lanny Davis
File:Lanny picture.tif
Born Lanny Jesse Davis
(1945-12-12) December 12, 1945 (age 76)
United States
Nationality American
Alma mater Yale College Yale Law School (1970)
Occupation Lawyer, author, lobbyist
Known for Former Clinton advisor, political strategist, presidential advisor
Spouse(s) Elaine J. Charney[1] (?-?)
Carolyn Atwell-Davis

Lanny Jesse Davis (born December 12, 1945) is an American lawyer, consultant, lobbyist, author, and television commentator. From 1996 to 1998, he served as a special counsel to President Bill Clinton, and was a spokesperson for the President and the White House on matters concerning campaign-finance investigations and other legal issues.[citation needed]

In 2005, President George W. Bush appointed Davis to serve on the five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, created by the U.S. Congress as part of the 2005 Intelligence Reform Act. Davis's clients have included Porton Group, National Women's History Museum, National Black Chamber of Commerce, eHealth, Sofitel Hotels, Trent Lott, Gene Upshaw, Dan Snyder, Martha Stewart and the Office of the President at Penn State University. Davis is currently a Fox News Contributor and has a column called "Purple Nation" that appears regularly in The Hill, The Huffington Post,, The Daily Caller, and Newsmax. He is a graduate of Yale Law School, where he won the Thurman Arnold Moot Court prize and served on the Yale Law Journal. As a Yale undergraduate, Davis served as chairman of the Yale Daily News.[citation needed]


Davis grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey, in a Jewish family. His father Mort was a dentist in Jersey City and his mother worked as the office manager of his father's dental office.[2] He attended Newark Academy in Newark, graduating in 1962. As an undergraduate at Yale, he was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. According to an item in U.S. News & World Report, as part of his initiation into the fraternity, Davis underwent hazing by, among others, the future President of the United States George W. Bush.[3] He also served as chairman of the campus newspaper, the Yale Daily News.[4] Davis went on to receive his law degree from Yale Law School in 1970. It was there that he first met Hillary Rodham Clinton.[5]

Davis has four children, and now lives in Potomac, Maryland, with his second wife, Carolyn Atwell-Davis, who is the legislative affairs director for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. One of his sons, Seth, is a columnist for Sports Illustrated magazine and a college basketball commentator for CBS.[6]



From 1970 to 1972, Davis was National Director of Youth Coalition for Muskie, the youth organization of Edmund S. Muskie's unsuccessful campaign for the 1972 Democratic Party Presidential nomination.[citation needed]

In 1976 Davis ran for Congress as a Democrat in Maryland's 8th congressional district and lost to Republican Newton Steers.[citation needed]

Davis served three terms (1980–1992) on the Democratic National Committee representing the State of Maryland. In 2005 President Bush appointed Davis to serve as the only Democrat on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.[citation needed]

Davis was the treasurer for Joe Lieberman's Reuniting Our Country PAC.[7]


Davis started his legal career as an associate at Patton Boggs in 1975 and became a partner in 1978. He served as special counsel to the President from 1996 to 1998, during which time he also was the spokesman for Clinton in issues regarding campaign finance investigations and other legal issues, including President Clinton's impeachment trial.[citation needed]

After leaving the White House, Davis returned to Patton Boggs. There he worked as a lobbyist for the nation of Pakistan prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001.[8] In 2003, Davis became a partner in Washington, D.C. office of the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. There, he provides counseling to corporations and government contractors on crisis management. He left the firm in late 2009 to join McDermott Will & Emery, but has separated from the firm to open his own company, Lanny J. Davis & Associates.[9]

He was a senior advisor and spokesman for the Israel Project. In 2009, he did "damage control for hawkish Democratic congresswoman Jane Harman over the American Israel Public Affairs Committee leak story".[10]

In January 2012 Davis launched a new public affairs firm, Purple Nation Solutions. Davis also joined the Philadelphia-based law firm of Dilworth Paxson L.L.P. in March 2012 and will practice out of the firm's Washington office, where he will focus on "legal crisis management".[11]

In October 2012 Davis was the subject of a CBS Sunday Morning segment where he took investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson behind the scenes into the world of lobbying, focusing on his work for eHealthInsurance.[12]

In October 2013 Davis began acting as outside legal counsel to the Washington Redskins to help defend the organization's nickname.[13]

Foreign government representation

In July 2009 Davis represented the Honduran Business Council and testified publicly before the House Western Hemisphere Subcommittee on its behalf. He criticized the illegal deportation of former President Manuel Zelaya but also supported a reconciliation solution based on principles of the rule of law and due process.[14]

In 2010 Davis worked with the State Department's West African Bureau and the U.S. Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea to assist in transitioning to a transparent democracy that protected due process and human rights. These efforts culminated in a speech Davis wrote for the President of Equatorial Guinea[15] that was ultimately endorsed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.[16]

For ten days in December 2010, Davis represented the Washington, D.C. Ivory Coast Embassy and Ambassador and worked closely with the State Department's West African Bureau to facilitate a phone call from President Obama to the defeated president of Ivory Coast to try to persuade him to avoid bloodshed and make a peaceful exit from office. When the defeated Ivory Coast president refused to accept the phone call, Davis resigned.[17] On January 1, 2011, the official spokesman of the U.S. State Department, P. J. Crowley, publicly acknowledged that Davis' role was "helpful".[18]

Author and commentator

In 1999, Davis wrote a memoir about his work in the White House entitled Truth to Tell: Tell It Early, Tell It All, Tell It Yourself: Notes from My White House Education. His most recent book, which appeared in 2006, is entitled Scandal: How "Gotcha" Politics Is Destroying America. The book received praise from politicians and commentators across party lines, including Senators Evan Bayh and Lindsey Graham.

Davis has also served as a frequent political commentator on television, radio, and newspapers. He writes for The Hill's online Pundits Blog.

In 2006, through opinions expressed in the Wall Street Journal (August 8, 2006) and on Fox News, Davis strongly supported longtime friend Joseph Lieberman in his losing bid against Ned Lamont for the Democratic Party nomination for the post of U.S. Senator from Connecticut. He then continued to support Lieberman when he ran and won the General Election as an Independent.[citation needed]

In 2008, Davis supported Senator Hillary Clinton in her race for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, and has appeared on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC as a surrogate for her. After Clinton conceded, Davis went on to support Barack Obama.[19]

In 2008, Davis questioned the United States' response to the conflict between Russia and Georgia and advised present and future U.S. leaders to consider the point of view of the Russian leaders before unilaterally supporting the government of Georgia in the conflict.[20]

Currently, Davis appears weekly on three radio programs: America's Morning News Radio Show with John McCaslin, WMAL's Mornings on the Mall, and Andy Parks Live. He was a participant in the D.C.'s Funniest Celebrity competition in 2011.[21]

Opinions and criticism

Glenn Greenwald, a lawyer and columnist for Salon, criticized Davis in 2009 for Davis's perceived failure to disclose his clients. Greenwald asserted his clients included dictatorships and opponents of unions and health care reform.[22]

According to Salon columnist Justin Elliot, Davis "specializes in lobbying for controversial corporate and foreign clients, particularly those seeking Democratic representation in Washington".[23] He has "built a client list that now includes oligarchic coup supporters in Honduras, a dictator in Equatorial Guinea, for-profit colleges accused of exploiting students, and a company that dominates the manufacture of additives for infant formula", as well as an "Ivory Coast strongman whose claims to that country’s presidency have been condemned by the international community and may even set off a civil war". Among his clients are "Ivory Coast leader and flagrant human rights violator Laurent Gbagbo" and "Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the longtime dictator of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea."[23] "Just as Davis was assuring the American press that his client, Gbagbo, opposed violence, Gbagbo's forces were in fact mounting a campaign of organized violence against the opposition".[24] The latter representation has earned him criticism from human rights groups, who claim that he "appears to be engaged in little more than a whitewashing exercise designed to rehabilitate the image of the Obiang regime on the international stage".[25] Similar criticisms were aired in an acerbic exchange with Jon Lovett in The Atlantic.[26]

At the time of the events in the Ivory Coast, State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley issued the following statement: "Lanny did open another alternative channel of communications for us, and was providing the right advice to his client. President Gbagbo has declined to engage our ambassador, Phillip Carter. Absent that avenue, Lanny became another route to encourage President Gbagbo to leave. Unfortunately, every indication is that his client wasn’t heeding his advice."[18]

Some of Davis's emails with Hillary Clinton were released to the public as part of the Hillary Clinton email controversy. The flattering emails were characterized by some media members as "cringeworthy."[27][28]

See also


  1. [ Displaying Abstract ]. "Davis-Charney - Article -". Retrieved 2015-12-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Interview with Lanny Davis, April 12, 2001, Muskie Archive, Bates College
  3. U.S. News & World Report
  4. The New York Times
  5. The New York Times
  6. " - Davis didn't take usual path to TV".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Reuniting Our Country PAC".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. The New York Times
  9. Sanati, Cyrus (2010-04-15) Former Clinton Counsel Forms Own Law Firm, New York Times
  10. Roth, Zachary (2009-07-14) Lanny Davis Now Lobbying In Support Of Honduran Coup, Talking Points Memo
  11. Former White House Special Counsel Lanny Davis Joins Dilworth Paxson
  12. Behind the closed doors of Washington lobbyists, CBS News
  13. Milbank, Dana. "For the Redskins, what’s in a name? Plenty."
  14. Testimony of Lanny J. Davis, Foreign Affairs, July 10, 2009
  15. Speech Delivered by President Obiang Nguema Mbasago
  16. Letter from Desmund Tutu
  17. Resignation Letter from Lanny Davis
  18. 18.0 18.1 Politico Playbook, Mike Allen,, Jan. 1, 2011
  19. "Advice to John McCain: Be John McCain". The Huffington Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Are we all Georgians? Not so fast Lanny Davis, Washington Times, August 25, 2008
  21. [1]
  22. The Lanny Davis disease and America's health care debate, Glenn Greenwald,, Aug. 18, 2009
  23. 23.0 23.1 Elliott, Justin (2010-12-21) High-profile Dem lawyer flacking for African strongman,
  24. Elliott, Justin (2011-02-16) The atrocities that were under Lanny Davis' nose,
  25. Elliott, Justin (2011-01-04) Lanny Davis' African human rights disaster,
  26. Lovett, Jon 2012-05-25) The Brash Hypocrisy of Lanny Davis, The Atlantic
  27. "Kissing Up 101: What a student of influence can learn from the Clinton emails - The Boston Globe". Retrieved 2015-12-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "Lanny's Letter to Hillary Is D.C.'s Most Cringe-Inducing Document Ever". Weekly Standard. 2015-09-02. Retrieved 2015-12-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links