Britney Spears's lawyer claims her father is trying to extort $2 million from her in order to step down as conservator of the singer's estate.
In legal documents filed on Monday, Mathew S. Rosengart slams Jamie Spears's response to the petition to remove him in which the 69-year-old only agreed to step down if certain conditions were met, specifically related to outstanding bills he rang up in his role as conservator. The bills have not yet been approved by the court — and have been a matter of dispute.
In the filing obtained by Yahoo Entertainment, Rosengart says that for more than a decade, Jamie has "engaged in abusive and bullying conduct" while "elevating his own personal and financial interests above those of his daughter." And while he has many issues with Jamie's response, the most "critical" one is Jamie's attempt to have "pending" accounting matters resolved as part of his exit, which Rosengart likens to "extortion."
We broke this down before, but the accounting in question totals around $2 million. It includes $1,356,293 in attorneys fees Jamie rang up with the law firm Holland & Knight, between October 2020 and June 2021, to fight being removed as conservator. Within that amount is an even more controversial $531,065 he spent of his daughter's money for "media matters," non-legal work performed by the firm to rehab his image in the press. Also, a long-criticized $500,000 payment to Britney's former business manager, Tri-Star Sports & Entertainment Group, because it was for a time period when the star wasn't even working.
"While Mr. Spears professes his purported 'love' and 'support” of his daughter even as he stripped her of her autonomy and dignity and engaged in abusive conduct toward her, his [response] reveals his true motivations: to receive or make large monetary payments under the 'pending Twelfth Account,' as a quid pro quo" for his departure, Rosengart writes.
Britney's lawyer makes it clear, "Britney Spears will not be extorted" and Jamie's "blatant attempt to barter suspension and removal in exchange for approximately $2 million in payments, on top of the millions already reaped from Ms. Spears’s estate by Mr. Spears and his associates, is a non-starter."
It states Jamie has "no right to condition his departure on improper and extortionate demands for payment or blanket immunity."
Rosengart says "the only honorable, decent, and humane course of action is for Mr. Spears to resign now, provide all necessary information to evaluate his accounting, and, if matters cannot be resolved consensually, to try to defend his accounting."
He adds, "Britney Spears’s life matters. Her well-being matters. Every day matters. There is no basis to wait" in removing Jamie — which will be the focus of the next hearing on Sept. 29.
Rosengart also criticizes Jamie for "improperly discussing his daughter’s 'mental health issues" in his response filing. Additionally, he slams him for using "seven pages of his response airing grievances with Lynne Spears in a needless, but mean-spirited sideshow... That Mr. Spears would use this solemn occasion to pick one more fight with his ex-wife (the mother of his daughter) speaks volumes."
Jamie's legal team has not yet responded to our request for comment on the new legal filing.
Rosengart did add, in a statement to NBC News, "Britney Spears will not be bullied or extorted by her father. Nor does Mr. Spears have the right to try to hold his daughter hostage by setting the terms of his removal."
It continued, "This is not about him, it is about the best interests of his daughter, which as a matter of law, mandate his removal. Even putting aside the legal issues requiring his prompt removal, if he loves his daughter, Mr. Spears should resign now, today, before he is suspended. It would be the correct and decent thing to do."
Britney was placed in a conservatorship in 2008 amid personal problems — and Jamie has been at the helm ever since. Since last year, Britney has been trying to remove him — stating that they are estranged so he should no longer be managing the $60 million fortune — and he's been fighting it since, as spotlighted by the #FreeBritney movement.
The superstar spoke out for the first time in June and again in early July, making allegations of conservatorship abuse under her dad. She's said she's been forced to work, take drugs and use birth control against her will. She said she'd like to sue her entire family.
Since then, Britney was able to retain her own counsel, selecting former prosecutor Rosengart, having only previously had access to a court-appointed attorney until July of this year. She also said she didn't know she could end the conservatorship — which seems to be her ultimate goal under her new legal team.
For his part, Jamie — who hasn't commented in response to the latest — has said he took control of Britney's estate to protect her from undue influences. He has been paid millions for the job.