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CHICAGO — No Labels has tapped a lawyer to vet third-party presidential candidates, and he's an attorney with no shortage of politically charged ties.
Former federal prosecutor Dan Webb — who defended Fox News in the high-profile Dominion Voting Systems defamation lawsuit, assisted with Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign and also backed Hillary Clinton’s 2016 bid — is working on behalf of the centrist political group.
“I can confirm that I will be involved in vetting potential candidates for No Labels,” Webb told POLITICO, declining to comment further because the process is “completely confidential.” Webb, who has had an arm’s length relationship with former President Donald Trump, has served as an adviser and legal counsel to the organization.
Webb’s work is a signal that No Labels is setting up a process to vet candidates for a third-party presidential ticket if President Joe Biden and Trump emerge as both major party nominees in 2024.
The prospect of a potential No Labels bid has raised alarm bells among Democrats, who worry the effort will draw enough votes away from Biden to tip the presidency to Trump. Democrats and Republicans have said they see the emerging third-party candidates as hurting Biden’s reelection bid.
No Labels has so far not presented candidates for a 2024 ticket, but a few names have been mentioned as possible contenders for a unity ticket, including Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.V.) and former Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah.
Webb has given millions of dollars in political donations to candidates on both sides of the aisle, according to the Illinois State Election Board and FEC filings for both his personal donations and his firm's political PAC. He has supported Sens. Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in recent cycles and has a long history of giving to a range of candidates.
In the current presidential cycle, he's given to North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. Webb previously backed former President Barack Obama in 2008 and now-Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) in 2012. He did not financially support any presidential candidates in 2020.
No Labels said that Webb's contributions to the process are on a volunteer basis.
Webb is a prominent Chicago defense attorney who served as a U.S. attorney under former President Ronald Reagan, first gaining fame for his work fighting political corruption. After his run as prosecutor, Webb joined the prominent Winston & Strawn law firm, where he serves as co-executive chairman. Webb has gone on to represent high-profile clients for the firm, including former Republican Gov. George Ryan, who was convicted and served time in a federal corruption scandal.
In 2016, Webb made headlines urging Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump for president, saying the New York real estate mogul at the time was “not fit to be president.” He also contributed financial support to Clinton's campaign, according to public campaign filings.
The slight didn’t prevent Trump from asking Webb to represent him in the Robert Mueller-led investigation into Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election. Webb’s office politely declined, saying it had a business conflict, adding, “the opportunity to represent the president [was] the highest honor.”
As an attorney, he has counted right-leaning defendants as clients, including Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash and Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. The Chicago attorney also served as an adviser to Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign.
More recently, Webb represented Fox News in the lawsuit that resulted in a historic $787 million settlement. He was also appointed as special prosecutor in the Jussie Smollett case in Chicago and is representing former Northwestern University head football coach Pat Fitzgerald who was fired in the wake of a hazing scandal.