A prominent trial lawyer being floated as a potential ambassador pick by Joe Biden took millions of dollars in COVID relief, even as his firm was winning hundreds of millions in settlements.
Joseph Rice, cofounder of the South Carolina-based Motley Rice law firm, helped raise large sums for Biden’s campaign and could land an ambassadorship spot in his administration, local reports indicate. Motley Rice received $7.03 million from Paycheck Protection Program funds, which were intended to help small businesses pay workers and stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.
Several companies have faced criticism for taking PPP loans when they did not need them, including from prominent Democrats. Those criticisms don’t seem to have swayed the incoming administration, which the State says is considering Rice for an ambassador role.
Rice’s firm gained approval for the loans after stacking up massive legal wins. In October 2019, Motley Rice announced a $260 million settlement against opioid manufacturers Teva, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, and McKesson. In November 2020, it helped win a $26 billion settlement from Johnson & Johnson and other pharmaceutical companies. Law firms often work on a contingency basis and receive portions of the settlements they reach.