Floyd Landis has decided to use an ongoing civil case to challenge the legitimacy of acting U.S. attorney general Matthew Whitaker in the lastest turn in the legal fallout of the Lance Armstrong doping saga as first reported by USA Today. The case in question that Floyd is using to pursue the attorney general has to do with the U.S. government and Armstrong’s U.S. Postal Service director Johan Bruyneel.
Last week, Landis agreed to a settlement with the Justice Department whereby he would be entitled to 10 per cent of whatever is recovered against Johan Bruyneel. The government ruled that the Belgian national is on the hook for US$1.23 million for unjust enrichment. Landis claimed that as a whistleblower for that case he was entitled to part of the settlement, which would amount to US$122,870 if the entire sum is recovered which is unlikely. That agreement was still pending when President Trump appointed Whitaker to replace Jeff Sessions who had resigned after the midterms on Nov. 7.
This suit is related but separate from the one Landis filed in 2010 against Armstrong which the Federal Government joined in 2013 under the False Claims Act. In April of this year, Armstrong agreed to pay $6.65 million to end that case.
Landis joins Senate Democrats and the state of Maryland backed by 15 other states in filing legal challenges against Whitaker’s appointment by Trump. Additionally, the challenge will add to Landis’ legal costs and could put the US$122,870 he was to be awarded as a government whistleblower into jeopardy. Though he would only receive that amount if the full settlement was recovered from Bruyneel.
In Oct., Landis announced we would be launching a UCI Continental team registered in Canada funded by the money he was awarded in the case against Armstrong. His challenge of Whitaker’s position as attorney general will not affect that case which has already been closed.
At the time, Scott McFarlane the general manager of Silber Pro Cycling and one of the managers for the Floyd’s of Leadville project said,” Floyd is directing money that he could use personally and that he could use to grow his own business, back into cycling. Imagine, out of the mountain of problems that emerged from the late 90s to the 2000s, that out of the money from the Armstrong case young cyclists are going to get an opportunity to ride.”
On Monday, Landis filed a motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to declare Whitaker’s appointment invalid. The legal action asserts that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein should be determined as the acting attorney general or the court should be tasked with determining whether the Justice Department approves the settlement with Armstrong.
“Though this motion may potentially go against his financial interests, Floyd is basically just trying to do the right thing here,” Landis’ attorney, Paul Scott told USA Today. “The legitimacy of the (attorney general) happened to present itself in his case, so he decided to take a stand on the issue.”
In response to the challenge, the Justice Department said Matt Whitaker’s appointment as attorney general was lawful and that there is a precedent for non-Senate confirmed persons to perform the duties of a Senate-confirmed position. Maryland’s attorney general, like Landis, filed a motion asserting that Whitaker’s appointment was “illegal and unconstitutional” and that Rosenstein should have replaced Sessions.