- By John HudsonJohn Hudson is a senior reporter at Foreign Policy, where he covers diplomacy and national security issues in Washington. He has reported from several geopolitical hotspots, including Ukraine, Pakistan, Malaysia, China, and Georgia. Prior to joining FP, John covered politics and global affairs for the Atlantic magazine’s news blog, the Atlantic Wire. In 2008, he covered the August war between Russia and Georgia from Tbilisi and the breakaway region of Abkhazia. He has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, BBC, C-SPAN, Fox News radio, Al Jazeera, and other broadcast outlets. He has been with the magazine since 2013.
The offices of a Dallas law firm representing a high-profile State Department whistleblower were broken into last weekend. Burglars stole three computers and broke into the firm’s file cabinets. But silver bars, video equipment and other valuables were left untouched, according to local Fox affiliate KDFW, which aired security camera footage of the suspected burglars entering and leaving the offices around the time of the incident.
The firm Schulman & Mathias represents Aurelia Fedenisn, a former investigator at the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General. In recent weeks, she raised a slew of explosive allegations against the department and its contractors ranging from illicit drug use, soliciting sexual favors from minors and prostitutes and sexual harassment.
"It’s a crazy, strange and suspicious situation," attorney Cary Schulman told The Cable. "It’s clear to me that it was somebody looking for information and not money. My most high-profile case right now is the Aurelia Fedenisn case, and I can’t think of any other case where someone would go to these great lengths to get our information."
According to the KDFW report, the firm was the only suite burglarized in the high-rise office building and an unlocked office adjacent was left untouched.
The State Department, which has repeatedly disputed Fedenisn’s allegations, denied any involvement in the incident. "Any allegation that the Department of State authorized someone to break into Mr. Schulman’s law firm is false and baseless," spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
After assessing the surveillance footage, Schulman said he believed the motivations were likely political, but did not suspect department involvement. "It wasn’t professional enough," he said. "It is possible that an Obama or Hillary supporter feels that I am unfairly going after them. And the timing of this is right after several weeks of very public media attention so it seems to me most likely that the information sought is related to that case. I don’t know for sure and I want the police to do their work."
Fedenisn’s case, in particular, has gained attention not just because of the substance of the allegations, but for her insistence that internal investigations into misconduct were "influenced, manipulated or simply called off" by senior State Department officials. The suppression of investigations was noted in an early draft of an Inspector General report she gave to CBS News, but softened in the final version.
Last month, her lawyers told The Cable that the department tried to intimidate her into silence. "They had law enforcement officers camp out in front of her house, harass her children and attempt to incriminate herself," claimed Schulman.
Schulman said the purpose of the visit was to get Fedenisn to sign documents admitting that she stole State Department documents — a charge Fedenisn denies.
Schulman & Mathias represent a range of clients on matters from fraud to wrongful death to bad faith insurance practices to medical malpractice. Any number of those cases could’ve exposed the firm to such a break in, but Schulman said he was skeptical. "I’m involved in other cases locally, but those cases are rather stale."