News & Politics

How Legal A-Listers Unwind

If a Mark Foley scandal erupts this winter, there might not be legal counsel around to help. Chances are a scandal target’s first pick for a lawyer would in be Colorado skiing or, worse, playing video games.

It’s all about Robert Altman, the onetime superlawyer who is married to former TV Wonder Woman Lynda Carter. In the late 1980s, Altman and illustrious partner Clark Clifford, once Secretary of Defense, were caught up in trouble over their stewardship of First American Bank, owned by a Saudi-controlled corporation known as BCCI.

Altman ended up being cleared by a jury, but instead of going back into law, he bought a Rockville-based manufacturer of electronic video games called Zenimax Media. To raise money to buy the company, Altman solicited investors from among his lawyer friends. Among them are former US Attorney Earl Silbert; Skadden Arps defense legend Carl Rauh;  Scooter Libby lawyer Bill JeffressMark Touhey, who represents corrupt Ohio congressman Bob Ney; and top attorneys Ray Banoun,  Bob Trout,  Mike Madigan,  Larry Wechsler,  Jerry Feffer, Larry Barcella, and Stan Mortenson.

Each of these lawyers pumped a minimum of $25,000 into Zenimax. Every February the group meets Altman in Vail, Aspen, or Deer Valley for a “stockholders meeting.” More than once they have chuckled over breakfast as they read news accounts of big Washington cases for which “no lawyers were available for comment.”

Their investment group has a name: MOFOS, for Mostly Over Fifty Outrageous Skiers.

Although no one has yet received so much as a dividend—they do get T-shirts—a company division, Bethesda Softworks, has become one of the world’s top manufacturers of video games. The possibility that Electronic Arts or some other big company will swoop in and buy Bethesda Softworks has some of the attorneys salivating. Also possible is that Altman will take the company public.

Either way, instead of a week in the Rockies, the lawyers might do a month in Monte Carlo.

Changes are coming, says one investor. If nothing else, he says, “MOFOS” is no longer appropriate. He says most stockholders are now over 60.

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