Democrat Aftab Pureval, who is trying to unseat incumbent Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH-01) in the First Congressional District, worked four years at a global corporate law firm, the Washington, D.C.-based White & Case.
His years at White & Case are the subject of a new TV ad airing in Cincinnati that tie the firm to Libya’s Islamic terrorist regime.
Watch the 30-second ad below:
The Cincinnati Enquirer, in an Aug. 30 news article that reads like an advertorial for Pureval, says he worked on anti-trust litigation while at White & Case and should not be blamed for the law firm’s controversial work representing the terrorist government in Libya.
That may be true. But the Enquirer is apparently unaware that Pureval worked on more than anti-trust cases during his tenure at White & Case.
He also conducted pro bono legal work for an unsavory foreign government.
Pureval joined White & Case in September 2008 and a couple of years later was assigned to the firm’s Nepali Constitution Team. As part of this five-lawyer team, Pureval worked with the communist government of Nepal, helping it draft the country’s new constitution.
Nepal is a small country in the Himalayas, located between the Tibet Autonomous Region of China and India.
According to the law firm’s website, the five members of the Nepali Constitution Team were Joseph Brubaker, Forrest Hansen, Jayashree Mitra, Aftab Pureval, and Dennis Schmelzer.
Pureval’s campaign website states that “Aftab was born and raised in Southwest Ohio, the son of first-generation Americans who came to this country to give themselves and their family more opportunity.”
Media reports say his father was born in India and his mother was born in Tibet, crossed the Himalayas with her family into India, where she lived as a refugee until she married his father and they both came to the United States.
“My story is improbably American. I am the son of a refugee. My mother was born in Tibet and she was forced to flee her home country along with my grandparents,” Pureval told NDTV [New Delhi TV] , “the most watched, credible and respected news and lifestyle network in India and a leader in Internet,” earlier this year.
He said, his grandparents and his mother made their way through the Himalayas to Nepal and entered India where she grew up as a refugee.
His mother studied in a school in Mysore and later went to Delhi for college education, where she met his Punjabi father. “My (paternal) grandfather was in the Indian Army (Brig. Ajit Singh),” he said, adding that after marriage, his parents moved to the US and settled in Ohio, where he was born in 1982.
His official bio on the campaign website makes no mention of his four years working for the White & Case law firm in Washington, D.C., or the work he did there for them:
After college, Aftab attended UC for law school where he volunteered in the domestic violence clinic to protect battered women. After working at a law firm, he became a special assistant federal prosecutor where he worked with the FBI to prosecute crimes against children.
A background in business and in service.
Before becoming Clerk of Courts, Aftab worked at P&G as the global brand attorney for Olay, supporting a billion dollar business and learning how to get things done for the clients he served. Aftab has also been active in our community, becoming the first man to serve on the board of the Women’s Fund. He is also on the boards of the Ohio Innocence Project, Cincinnati Union Bethel, and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He has been awarded the NAACP Theodore Berry Award for Service and been recognized by the Business Courier as one of their 40 under 40.
The White & Case law firm’s website describes the Nepal Constitution Team’s pro-bono work, for Nepal, for which they received an award in 2011, thusly:
For their work preparing two in-depth comparative law studies for the government of Nepal to assist with the drafting of its new constitution. The papers examined how former unitary states transition to a federalist state by exploring various issues, including devolution of power, taxation and financing, minority protections, and the number of boundaries and federal units. The team also detailed how various states use and interpret the political question doctrine, which limits the degree to which political questions can be decided by the courts.”
The Nepal constitution project was referred to the firm by the Public International Law and Policy Group.
None of the “reforms” and “protections” that Pureval’s team advocated for appear to have had much of an impact on the communist regime’s treatment of dissidents. Nepal’s constitution has been a disaster from day one. There have been protests, crackdowns on press freedom, and border blockades by a large group of ethnic Madhesis who felt the new constitutional system watered down their influence.
Writing at The Globe and Mail earlier this year, Brahma Chellaney described the history and current state of the Communist Party’s control of Nepal:
The pro-China Nepalese communists’ peaceful ascension to power helps to obscure a violent past. Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli, as a communist guerrilla, spent years in jail in the 1970s and 1980s for waging war against the state. Nepal’s 1990 establishment of multiparty democracy within the framework of a constitutional monarchy opened up legitimate political space for all groups, including the Maoists and Mr. Oli’s Marxist-Leninist Party. The Maoists launched a bloody insurrection in 1996 with the aim of overthrowing the monarchy through a “people’s revolution.”
A decade later, a peace accord ended a protracted war between Maoists and government forces. India, whose coalition government at that time was dependent on the support of local communists with links to Nepalese communists, engineered not only the peace but also the abolition of the constitutional monarchy.
These developments paved the way for the Maoists and the Marxist-Leninist Party to share power with the Nepali Congress Party, dominant until then. In 2008, the Maoist chief was appointed prime minister, the first of a series of communists to head coalition governments. Severe political flux resulted in governments changing 10 times in the past decade, a period in which the two communist parties rapidly expanded their political base before sweeping the last elections.
Today, the Nepali Communist Party, formed with the merger of the communist groups, casts a long, ominous shadow over the country’s politics: It has almost two-thirds majority in Parliament and governments in six of the country’s seven provinces. Such domination raises serious risks for Nepal’s sputtering democratic transition, which has been buffeted by one crisis after another.
A 2017 report by Freedom House described the state of freedom in Nepal under the 2015 constitution as follows:
A number of incidents during the year raised concerns about freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. For example, in May, a Canadian man was arrested and deported for pro-Madhesi posts on social media, and a photojournalist was arrested and temporarily detained for reporting on a symbolic protest outside a government complex. Other journalists faced short detentions or physical assaults. In June, the government issued a directive requiring online media to register and giving itself broad authority to block online content.”
Nepal experienced continued political turmoil during 2016 as the government and Parliament sought to implement the 2015 constitution, which had drawn opposition from various groups over its provisions on citizenship, federalism, and political representation, according to Freedom House, which goes on to describe the mess in Nepal created by the new constitution.
In January 2016, as part of an effort to address the Madhesi concerns, Parliament approved a constitutional amendment that prioritized population over geography in the delineation of electoral constituencies. However, the Madhesi parties criticized it as inadequate, and a number of other constitutional concerns—including the role of districts as administrative units and quota formulas for various minorities and disadvantaged groups—remained unresolved. Critics of the constitution also objected to its citizenship provisions, which allow the children of Nepali mothers and non-Nepali fathers to acquire only naturalized citizenship; naturalized citizens are ineligible for the highest executive, legislative, and judicial offices.
So, while Pureval may not have been involved in the Libyan project at his law firm, he most definitely was involved in another project for an unsavory foreign government with a bad record on human rights.
White & Case, where Pureval earned his legal chops, is not the kind of law firm that makes money representing the poor and downtrodden.
The facts are clear: Aftab Pureval worked for a law firm that represented a terrorist regime in Libya and an unsavory government in Nepal. One project he was personally involved in, the other he was not.
The Enquirer article amounts to a free ad in the region’s largest newspaper for the most liberal candidate to ever run for the first congressional district seat.
The Enquirer is owned by Gannett, a corporate media giant that includes the nation’s largest chain of newspapers along with multiple TV stations and other media properties.