Taxpayers have spent $3.7 million and counting on private attorneys in three redistricting lawsuits, as well as a fourth case targeting the state’s voter ID law. That includes nearly $180,000 billed so far by a state senator’s law firm, which represents her colleagues from both sides of the aisle in their ongoing effort to keep secret emails about the 2011 drawing of election maps. Those four state senators, as well as two former ones, each face $100 daily fines for not complying with a court order to turn those documents over. Unless a pending appeal before the state Supreme Court succeeds, taxpayers will be liable for the fines.
The bills have piled up for a number of reasons. The General Assembly’s Republican majority doesn’t trust Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring to represent them, and chamber leaders hired private firms with expertise in a niche area of the law.
Herring’s office said it needed to hire outside counsel to represent the State Board of Elections in two of these cases because it needed a similar expertise, and to deal with the high volume of paperwork these cases have generated. The office has some 200 attorneys on staff.