A lawyer accused of unethical conduct in the Flint water case called an attempt to oust him from his leadership appointment “nothing but a retaliatory smear campaign” and a “blatant money grab.”

Hunter Shkolnik, who has been appointed as co-liaison counsel to the individual cases, responded on Monday to accusations made last month by lead attorneys in the class action that he was swiping their clients by forcing Flint residents to sign unlawful retainer agreements with excessive fees. In a court filing, Shkolnik countered that Ted Leopold and Michael Pitt, both appointed as lead counsel to a consolidated class action, have refused to disclose “secret side-fee deals” with other law firms or allowed the court to review billing in the case. He asked U.S. District Judge Judith Levy of the Eastern District of Michigan to remove Leopold, chairman of the catastrophic injury and wrongful death practice at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and Pitt, of Pitt McGehee Palmer and Rivers in Royal Oak, Michigan, from their leadership positions.