Unpaid taxes and lawsuits may squash Michael Avenatti's presidential campaign before it's even started.
A California judge on Monday ordered Avenatti, the lawyer representing Stormy Daniels, to pay $4.85 million he owes to an ex-colleague, reports The Associated Press. The ruling came just hours after The Daily Beast reported that Avenatti owes millions in back taxes.
Monday's suit came from Jason Frank, who was an attorney at Avenatti's former law firm. Frank alleged the firm "misstated its profits" and owed him far more than he was paid, AP writes. After denying Avenatti's request to bring the case to federal court, the judge ruled in Frank's favor. Neither Avenatti not a representative were at Monday's hearing, and did not argue in the case, but Avenatti did tell AP on Monday that Frank owed him $12 million "for his fraud," without explaining further.
Avenatti rocketed to fame after representing Daniels in a lawsuit against President Trump earlier this year. He's since used that platform to campaign for Democrats and float a 2020 presidential run, and often urges Trump to release his tax returns. But Avenatti's first 2020 mention was met with criticism over his finances, particularly reports of $2.4 million in then-unpaid taxes owed by his old law firm. The Daily Beast also reports Avenatti personally owes another $1.2 million to the IRS, though Avenatti says those debts are "fully paid."