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Gov. Rick Snyder’s Legal Tab $6,500 Per Day
Gov. Rick Snyder’s Legal Tab $6,500 Per Day
Detroit Free Press
A shorter URL for the above link:
LANSING Bills for an outside legal firm to represent Gov. Rick Snyder in civil lawsuits related to the Flint drinking water crisis are costing taxpayers close to $6,500 a day, and Snyder spent almost the entire $400,000 allocated for the legal contract in February and March alone, records show.
Barris, Sott, Denn & Driker of Detroit, hired to represent Snyder in connection with a raft of Flint civil lawsuits in which he is named as a defendant, billed the state $343,702 between Feb. 8, when the firm started work, and March 31, according to records obtained by the Free Press under Michigans Freedom of Information Act.
The State Administrative Board was told March 8 the contract, which provides for legal fees as high as $540 per hour for attorney Eugene Driker, was capped at $400,000. If the rate of billing from February and March continued into April, the cap for the contract would have been exceeded by April 11. That means Snyder’s total outside legal fees charged to the state will almost certainly exceed the $1.2-million figure quoted in March. The cost of criminal defense representation for Snyder, which is covered under a separate contract with Warner, Norcross & Judd, is capped at $800,000.
“The billing in February and March was from a high volume of work due to the number of documents that needed to be produced to meet litigation demands,” Snyder spokeswoman Anna Heaton saidTuesday. “Those demands continue, though at a lower volume, so the governors office is still working with the firm to figure out how much the total contract will cost.”
The fees are controversial, with critics saying Snyder should use only state attorneys from the Attorney General’s Office or pay the outside firms using a legal defense fund, campaign funds or other non-taxpayer funds. Snyder says the legal fees arise directly from his official actions as governor and it is appropriate to charge them to the state.
The governor’s office is not subject to Michigan’s FOIA law, though pending legislation would change that. The Free Press obtained the billing records from the Department of Technology, Management and Budget, which submitted the contracts to the State Administrative Board, a body with responsibilities for approving certain state contracts.
The legal fees paid to Barris, Sott, Denn & Driker do not include the cost of legal representation the Attorney Generals Office is providing Snyder in the civil lawsuits.
Although taxpayers are footing the bill for Snyder’s legal representation, the state is giving almost no hint of what they are getting for their money.
The 25 pages of billing records released under FOIA by the DTMB on May 17 contained redactions that blacked out, in their entirety, all descriptions of the work Snyder was billed for.
The complete article may be read at the URL above.
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