Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty

Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti is gearing up to run for president, and he’s confident he’s both more qualified and honest than President Trump. But a new Daily Beast article alleges that Avenatti’s former law firms owe millions of dollars to the IRS and are embroiled in lawsuits with former employees, facts that could challenge him during his race if he attacks Trump on financial irresponsibility.

From the Daily Beast:

Both the Eagan Avenatti law firm and a shuttered Seattle coffee chain, which Avenatti says he no longer owns, owe millions in unpaid taxes and judgments, according to court documents and filings with local recorder’s offices.

Tax liens filed in Orange County also show that Avenatti has personally owed at least $1.2 million in federal taxes on top of the corporate debts. One lien, filed in February 2018, was for $308,396, while another filed in August 2015 showed a balance of $903,987. The Daily Beast did not find records showing the liens were released, but Avenatti claims both debts were “fully paid.”

In July, Avenatti was challenged on some of these debts when he went on CNN to announce his intention to run in 2020. Host Jim Sciutto asked him about the millions his former law firms appear to owe the government. “You know, look, I’ll be happy to put my tax records and background up against the president’s background and his tax records. Of course, he won’t release any of that information,” Avenatti said.

Court documents obtained by the Daily Beast also show that Avenatti’s former law firm Eagan Avenatti failed to make rent for months at their Orange County office and are in the process of being evicted. When asked for comment by the Daily Beast, Avenatti responded that those debts and companies were in the past. He now operates his law activities under the name Avenatti & Associates. “None of those obligations are my responsibility,” he told the Daily Beast, when asked about the eviction.

One former employee of Eagan Avenatti threatened to sue the company in 2016 for unpaid compensation. The employee, Jason Frank, settled with the company for $4.85 million. He is now suing Avenatti for allegedly not paying.

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From the Daily Beast:

After Avenatti failed to wire the first payment to Frank, a U.S. bankruptcy court judge entered a $10-million judgment against Eagan Avenatti.

Asked for comment on Monday’s hearing, Avenatti told The Daily Beast, “Nothing’s gonna happen on Monday, so you guys are wasting your time.”

“Jason’s claims are completely bogus,” Avenatti said, adding that “regardless of what happens on Monday, Jason owes me and my law firm over $10 million” for supposedly stealing clients. [...]

Eric George, an attorney for Frank, told The Daily Beast that Avenatti’s client-stealing claims had no merit.

“Mr. Avenatti’s comments are delusional, and should fool no one,” George said in a statement.

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The sordid details of these cases go on and on. But whether they could truly harm Avenatti’s presidential bid is debatable, given that Trump’s long history of financial lawsuits, and total lack of public tax records, did nothing to dissuade his supporters. Perhaps the same nonchalance won’t be afforded to the Democratic candidates for 2020, or maybe more likely, scandals like these are just the new normal.