Thursday, April 26, 2012

Freedom Ain't Free, And Neither Are Supreme Court Arguments. Or, ARE They?; Also, Snell & Wilmer Fees Exceed $2 Million

Arizona collected more than $3.6 Million to defend SB1070 against legal challenges, and had spent more than $2.1 Million of it BEFORE yesterday's big showdown in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.  However, it is impossible to say how much - IF ANYTHING - yesterday's arguments cost Arizona.

In 2010, Governor Jan Brewer issued an Executive Order creating a Border Security Fund to collect unlimited private donations to be used to defend the illegal immigration enforcement law.  With a website set up and a number of national television appearances, the BSF quickly filled its coffers.  As of today, according to the Arizona Treasurer's Office, a total of $3,644,148.54 has been collected.

Other than small amounts for travel, lodging and meals when there were appellate proceedings in San Francisco last year, the monies have been spent for legal fees.  Locally-based law firm Snell & Wilmer has received the most - $1,980,811.75 in the 2010-11 fiscal year, and $152,940.47 so far this year.

What is missing from the public record is the very high-profile attorney and firm that took the lead after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against John Bouma (from Snell).  Former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement is the Counsel of Record for Arizona in front of the Supreme Court.  He filed the briefs with the Supreme Court and handled the oral arguments yesterday.

According to the state Treasurer's Office, not one penny has yet been paid to Clement, his firm or any of his associates.  It is highly unlikely that Snell & Wilmer has been a conduit.

It is even more unlikely that Clement has taken on this case pro bono.  First, Arizona has the Fund with which to pay him a handsome fee, making it unnecessary to take it pro bono.  Second, last year he cut a special  deal with House Republicans to defend DOMA with a blended rate of $520/hour - meaning his hourly is more - and a fee cap of $500,000;  if he did not represent them pro bono, why would he represent Arizona pro bono.

Arizona's Politics has asked the Governor's Office for clarification on the Clement fees and the status of the Border Security Fund, and will update as soon as it is available.

HUMOROUS SIDEBAR:  The Treasurer's Office website,, does not list each contribution separately, but it does give categories.  And, there are two entries on September 1, 2011, that caught my eye for the Border Security Fund.  According to these entries, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT made contributions of $3,441.22 and $235.00 to the Fund to help Arizona fight the lawsuit the federal government had filed against it.  Hey, stranger things have happened!  (But, just to be sure, we are asking the Treasurer's office to check out those transactions.)

LEGAL SIDEBAR:  whisper whisper whisper whisper.

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