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Complaint Filed Against New York City Attorney For Allegedly Illegally Advising Missoula City Council On Gun Registration Ordinance

photo courtesy City of Missoula
Missoula City Council

The Montana Shooting Sports Association and its President, Gary Marbut, have filed a complaint with the Montana Office of Disciplinary Counsel against an attorney in New York  City for allegedly offering legal advice without being licensed to practice law in Montana.

The letter reads;

Montana Shooting Sports Association

P.O. Box 4924

Missoula, Montana 59806

January 26, 2017

Office of Disciplinary Counsel

P.O. Box 1099

Helena, Montana

Complaint re Jonas Oransky, Esq., NYC

 

Dear Sirs,

Mr. Jonas Oransky, self-identified as counsel for Everytown for Gun Safety, and who I believe to be an attorney residing in New York City, New York, has been providing legal advice for entities and persons in Montana.  I do not find Mr. Oransky listed as licensed to practice law in Montana.

Everytown for Gun Safety is an organization established and funded by former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg to advance gun control laws, as it has done in numerous states and cities across the U.S.  The Missoula City Council has been considering an ordinance to require federal background checks for private transfers of firearms in Missoula.  Missoula enacted this ordinance.  Montana Attorney General Tim Fox released an AG Opinion declaring that this ordinance is in conflict with state law and is unenforceable.  See AG Op 57-1 at:

https://media.dojmt.gov/wp-content/uploads/Knudsen-AG-Opinion-Final.pdf

Attached is a .pdf file of 54 pages of emails obtained from the City of Missoula through a freedom of information request.  Among these emails are a number wherein Mr. Oransky advises Bryan von Lossberg, a member of the Missoula City Council, and others(1), that the (then) proposed Missoula ordinance is/was perfectly legal.  For example, in one email dated September 10, 2015 (Page 17 of attached .pdf), Mr. Oransky advises Councilman von Lossberg and others, “We are well aware of the 45-8-351 provision, and believe that Missoula is empowered to legislate in this fashion; we are also aware that the ordinance could lead to litigation (as many gun violence prevention laws do), and believe that Missoula would prevail.”

I believe this and other communications contained in the attached .pdf, and others possibly unknown at this time, constitute providing specific legal advice and legal services in Montana. Not only has Mr. Oransky been offering legal advice in Montana, but according to Attorney General Fox’s recent Opinion, it was bad advice.  If Mr. Oransky is not admitted to the practice of law in Montana, I believe his legal advice would constitute a transgression that falls within the purview of your office.

I request that this matter be investigated.  If the investigation corroborates this Complaint, I ask that the Commission on Practice sanction Mr. Oransky in whatever ways are allowed under law.  Finally, I ask that you also forward a copy this Complaint to whatever entity in New York serves the same function as the ODC and the Montana Bar does in Montana.

Thank you for your serious attention to this matter.

Sincerely yours,

/s/

Gary Marbut, president

Newstalk KGVO 1290 AM & 101.5 FM

Attached to the letter are communications from Mr. Oransky to members of the Missoula City Council. After reviewing documents sent to him from city councilor Bryan von Lossberg, Mr. Oransky writes.

‘Thanks, Bryan. These are good and thoughtful edits from Jim. (Missoula City Attorney Jim Nugent) See my comments below and revised text attached. Please feel free to forward to Jim and anyone else who might need to see this.

We are well aware of the 45-8-351 provision, and believe that Missoula is empowered to legislate in this fashion; we are also aware that the ordinance could lead to litigation (as many gun violence prevention laws do) and believe that Missoula will prevail’

Best, Jonas

JORANSKY@EVERYTOWN. ORG

About Everytown.org and Mayors Against Illegal Guns from their website:

‘In 2006, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns as a coalition of 15 mayors. Since then, they have built a bipartisan group of more than 1,000 current and former mayors from nearly every state to fight for common-sense gun laws.’

According to their website, Missoula is also a coalition member, along with Belgrade.

Marbut told KGVO News;

“It is a criminal act in Montana for a person who is not licensed to practice law to hold himself out as an attorney and to provide legal advice or services.  It would be disappointing if members of the Missoula City Council have relied on criminal acts of someone from New York City in formulating public policy deemed suitable for Montana people.”

On Thursday, January 26, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox issued an opinion that stated ‘the ordinance violates state statute pertaining to what powers a city like Missoula might have in regards to the regulation of firearms.’

KGVO News contacted Mr. Oransky by phone, and he stated that he had no comment on the complaint. KGVO left messages to Missoula City Attorney Jim Nugent who is reportedly out of town.

Communications Director for the City of Missoula, Ginny Merriam, told KGVO News she had no knowledge of any communications between Mr. von Lossberg and Mr. Oransky.

KGVO News spoke with Mr, von Lossberg at 4:00 p.m. on Friday. He confirmed that he had reached out to several sources for advice on the gun registration ordinance, and that Mr. Oransky was one of those individuals. Mr. von Lossberg was careful to confirm that Mr. Oransky was not professionally retained for his advice. 

KGVO contacted the Montana State Office of Disciplinary Counsel, who stated that unless the individual in question is licensed to practice law in Montana, then their office has no jurisdiction in the complaint, however, Mr. Marbut’s complaint was also copied to the Montana State Bar Association.

KGVO spoke to an official at the State Bar Association who is now looking into the matter, as is the Montana Attorney General’s office. Both offices have received copies of the complaint and the emails in question.

 

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