Report shows $480,000 in donations to cover Pence legal aid

KEVIN FREKING
Vice President Pence leaves the podium after speaking to the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service at their headquarters in Rockville, Md., Tuesday, June 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donors contributed nearly $480,000 last year to cover Vice President Mike Pence’s legal expenses from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, according to Pence’s financial disclosure report.

The annual report, released Tuesday, shows that a dozen donors contributed to the trust fund in May of last year. The amounts ranged from $100,000 for the top three donors to $25 for the person who is listed as the fund’s trustee, James Atterholt, who served as Pence’s chief of staff from 2014 through 2016 when Pence was governor of Indiana.

“I believe the vice president is a decent and honorable person but he is not someone of great financial means. I started the trust because I believe significant legal bills should not be the cost of public service,” Atterholt said via email.

The six-figure donations came from Indiana Pacers owner Herbert Simon of Indianapolis and California apartment developers Michael Hayde and Laura Khouri. Half of the donors came from Pence’s home state.

The report states the money was used to pay a bill from McGuireWoods LLP. The firm’s Richard Cullen served as Pence’s lawyer in the Mueller probe. Atterholt terminated the trust on Aug. 12, 2019. Many government officials have turned to legal defense funds over the years to finance their legal representation.

The report states that every contributor had to certify that they are U.S. citizens, the money came from personal funds and that Pence did not solicit the contribution, among other requirements. The report was filed with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.