Republican lawmakers have agreed to pay the former solicitor general $500 per hour to represent them in two suits challenging the lame-duck laws, nearly double the rate Gov. Tony Evers is paying his private attorneys in those cases.
The GOP contracts, provided to WisPolitics.com today through an open records request, also don’t cap the overall cost for Misha Tseytlin, who served under GOP AG Brad Schimel, in the cases.
Meanwhile, taxpayers are on the hook for up to $100,000 to cover the cost of Madison law firm Pines Bach to represent Evers in the two suits. Each contract calls for a rate of $275 per hour for the attorneys representing the guv, with a cap of $50,000, though the ceiling could be amended under each document “if litigation requires additional resources.”
Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff slammed the disparity in rates in a statement this afternoon.
“Republicans won’t pay for a middle class tax cut but they’re willing to spend unlimited money defending their attempts to override the will of the people,” she said.
A spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
Both Evers and GOP lawmakers hired private attorneys for representation in two recent lawsuits challenging the December extraordinary session: one from a coalition of groups that say the lame-duck laws are unconstitutional because they stemmed from an unlawful legislative session; and the latest from five unions and state Sen. Janet Bewley that argues the laws violate the state Constitution’s separation of powers clause.
Tseytlin in the GOP contracts note the $500 hourly rate he’s charging “is less than my standard hourly rate.” The document shows Tseytlin will be Republicans’ primary attorney in the case, but he may assign other attorneys work on aspects of the case, though the contract says none would make more than $500 hourly. Tseytlin has joined Chicago-based firm Troutman Sanders, according to the docs.
In a separate letter, sent to Vos and Senate President Roger Roth Jan. 16, Tseytlin wrote if the Legislature prevails in the case brought by the League of Women Voters and other groups, he would seek to recover the full fees the Legislature would have incurred “had I charged the fees typically charged to commercial clients.” The Legislature would then remit to Tseytlin the full amount of any fees awarded, the letter said.
That language was not included in either of the two contracts, which were signed earlier this week.
The state is also on the hook for out-of-pocket expenses, such as printing, photocopying, travel costs and more, per the contracts. Tseytlin’s firm will send the Legislature monthly invoices to cover the costs incurred, the documents said.
The latest contract between Evers and Pines Bach was provided to WisPolitics.com today by the guv’s office. That contract, in response to the suit brought by the unions this week, comes after Evers hired the firm late last month to represent him in the earlier lame-duck case brought by the League of Women Voters and other groups.
Baldauff, the Evers spokeswoman, said in a statement earlier today the office’s decision to retain Pines Bach comes from the “overlapping issues” in both cases that would make it “more cost effective” to hire the same firm for each suit. She also pointed to the firm’s “expertise in state constitutional law issues.”
The guv has also assigned private attorneys to represent the Elections Commission in the League of Women Voters suit, at a cost of up to $50,000. The commission had requested representation from the Department of Justice, but the agency notified the commission it couldn’t provide representation due to a conflict. The terms of its contract are similar to the ones the guv’s office signed.
Former Deputy Attorney General Dan Bach, who served under Dem AG Peg Lautenschlager, and two colleagues at Lawton & Cates will represent the commission. The terms of the contract, which call for the firm to make up to $50,000, are similar to one the guv’s office signed.