J. Randolph Evans, the Dentons partner who is President Donald Trump’s pick to be U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, was paid $2.8 million between Jan. 1, 2016, through June 23, 2017, according to a newly-released financial disclosure filing. That works out to about $1.78 million annually.
Evans also received a $139,093 bonus from Dentons last year and expects another bonus this year of between $50,000 and $100,000, according to the form.
The partner also has $633,930 in equity capital tied up in the firm, which Dentons must return, without interest, within 13 months after he resigns—either in a single payment or in monthly installments over three years, according to the Dentons partnership agreement quoted in the form.
Evans also disclosed $47,465 in income from The Lubbers Agency, a TV talent agency in Key Biscayne, Florida, that is run by Newt Gingrich’s daughter Kathy Gingrich Lubbers, and $750 from Gingrich Productions for serving on the board of directors. He has no ownership in Gingrich Productions.
A GOP heavy-hitter for decades, Evans got involved in Republican politics by volunteering for Newt Gingrich’s local congressional campaigns after taking a geography class from him in 1976 while a student at West Georgia College. He went on to become Gingrich’s lawyer and business associate.
In 2016, Evans donated $19,600 to the Republican National Committee, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
If Evans’ nomination, announced by the White House on Sept. 22, is confirmed, he will resign from his position at the Lubbers Agency but retain a financial interest and resign as a director for Gingrich Productions, according to his July ethics letter to the State Department.
While Dentons has an office in Luxembourg, Evans said he will sever all connections with the firm.
“While I’m there, Dentons will be just another law firm,” he said.
Evans also will resign from other boards and committees on which he serves, including the Georgia Judicial Nominating Commission, which he co-chairs.
For more than a decade, Evans and his law partner Shari Klevens have written a biweekly column on professional liability and ethics for the Daily Report, which also runs in other ALM publications. Evans said his last column will run Oct. 15.
Klevens, who advises law firms on operations and professional issues, will continue writing the column with Alanna Clair, a member of Dentons’ law firms group. Evans and Klevens have also written eight books on legal issues, including on Georgia and California legal malpractice, respectively.
Evans also must divest his interests in Marriott International and in the Oppenheimer Steelpath MLP Alpha Fund—one of about 50 funds in which he lists investments. He said he did not know why those who do vetting for the State Department are requiring him to divest the Marriott and Oppenheimer holdings, but that he was happy to do so.
Evans said he’s interested in serving as ambassador to Luxembourg because it’s a financial center—the European equivalent of Singapore’s position in Asia. (Coincidentally, another Atlanta lawyer, David Adelman, left a partnership at Eversheds Sutherland in 2010 to become ambassador to Singapore during the Obama administration.)
“Having chaired the financial institutions practice at Dentons and [predecessor firm] McKenna, it suited my skill set—especially in light of Brexit,” Evans said.
He noted that financial institutions and other entities are considering their options for what kind of connection they will have to the EU after the United Kingdom exits. And corporations have a strong interest in Luxembourg, which is a tax safe haven.
“There is a lot of financial activity there, and it’s an area that I have a good deal of experience in,” Evans said, adding that the European Court of Justice also sits in Luxembourg.
Evans is best known for his roles as an adviser to high-profile Republican politicians such as Gingrich and as an expert on professional liability issues for law firms and other entities. But he also is an experienced litigator who handles high-stakes business disputes.
“Undoubtedly, most of my colleagues in Georgia know me as someone who’s spent his career talking about professional liability issues,” Evans said, adding that his practice has evolved into a “more international and national practice where there’s a lot of money at stake.”
That practice started as high-stakes disputes for insurance companies, but Evans said that in the last decade or so he’s represented all kinds of companies in “bet-the-company cases,” including Northside Hospital in its dispute with Jones Day partner Kendrick Smith over whether it must publicly disclose financial records under the Georgia Open Records Act.
Evans said his biggest challenge for the past few years has been co-chairing the Georgia Judicial Nominating Commission.
“When he appointed me, I never dreamed Governor [Nathan] Deal would have so many judges to pick,” he said.
Evans’ disclosure form lists insurance companies, businesses, law firms, lawyers and two high-profile figures—Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and former Fox News co-president Bill Shine—among clients who have paid him more than $5,000.
Shine, a Roger Ailes protege who became co-president after Ailes was pushed out over sexual harassment allegations, resigned May 1, after being accused in several lawsuits of covering up Ailes’ behavior.
Evans’ six insurance clients include global giant Zurich North America. Georgia clients include Rollins Inc., Northside Hospital, the Medical Center Hospital Authority of Columbus and three law firms: Butler Wooten Cheeley & Peak; Ford & Harrison; and Savannah firm Ellis Painter Ratterree & Adams.
Evans said some of the law firm payments, such as the one from plaintiffs firm Butler Wooten, are for acting as an expert witness on the duties of in-house counsel or similar questions. Law firms also retain him to advise on mergers, dissolutions, redoing partnership agreements and other issues pertaining to their structure and operations.
The Luxembourg ambassadorship has been vacant since David McKean resigned Jan. 20—the day Donald Trump became president. Evans said he first learned he was being considered for the post around Memorial Day.
It is a 14-step process, he said, that starts with being notified that you’ve been designated, then attending ambassador training school for a full month at the Foreign Service Institute. After an agreement from the country in question, a notice of intent to nominate is published and a period is set aside for objections. Finally, the candidate’s nomination is announced.
Evans said he is currently in a “consultations” period, where he is meeting with the State Department’s country desk, other State Department personnel and Senate members.
He expects his Senate confirmation hearing will be later this month or in early November.
If confirmed, he will be sworn in and then will present his credentials to Luxembourg’s head of state, Grand Duke Henri.