Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Arizona's Redistricting Legal Battles Cost Taxpayers (Much) More Than $3.4M (So Far)

UPDATE, 6/19: A new article that includes updated (higher) figures, more detail, and confirmation that former U.S. Solicitor General Seth Waxman reprsented the AIRC pro bono is located here.

(Correction: The Arizona Republic reported that the Arizona Legislature has retained a firm to prepare for the possibility of new maps, and not the Secretary of State's office. The text has been corrected.)

As Arizona waits for the U.S. Supreme Court to issue its ruling on the state's Independent Redistricting Commission, the legal bills paid by Arizona taxpayers has exceeded $3.4 Million.  The legal tab for the Supreme Court briefs and oral arguments alone will likely be more than $500,000.

Arizona's Politics has scoured the state's books to tally the legal fees paid by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission ("AIRC") and the State Legislature since the Republican-controlled House and Senate - and Republican-backed individuals filed dual challenges to the AIRC and the redistricting maps created by the AIRC in 2012.

The Legislature spent $304,884 to hire former U.S. Solicitor Paul Clement to handle the Supreme Court portion of the case.*

(Arizona's Politics had a difficult time ascertaining the fee earlier this year; Arizona Open Books - Arizona's Official Transparency Site - did not post the payment until April 17.  That was nearly one year after Clement first filed on behalf of the state and six weeks after he argued the case in front of the nation's highest court.  Neither the House nor the Senate - which split the fee 50/50 - responded to requests for clarification, and the Democratic caucus was unable to figure out the details.)

The Legislature also retained the local law firm of Davis Miles to help with the legal action in both the District Court and the Supreme Court.  Davis Miles received about $55,000.  The lawmakers and the aligned Secretary of State's Office also utilized state attorneys from both the Attorney General's Office and both Houses; Arizona's Politics is unable to calculate the value of those attorney's hours.

The AIRC did not have the benefit of "in house counsel", and instead have paid the law firms of Ballard Spahr and Osborn Maledon a total of $3,078,641 since June 2012.  The AIRC also retained a former U.S. Solicitor General to represent it in the Supreme Court.  However, the fees paid Seth Waxman's firm of Wilmer Cutler has not yet been posted on Arizona's website.  (It should be in the same ballpark as Clement's $304,000 fee; reports indicate Waxman's hourly rate is $950/hour.**)

The Supreme Court's decision in the Legislature's constitutional challenge to the Arizona-voter-approved setup of the Independent Redistricting Commission could come as soon as tomorrow, and certainly by the end of the month.  The Arizona Republic has reported that the Legislature has already paid out money to begin the redistricting process if the Court rules in the Legislature's favor and reinstates the old Legislative-controlled redistricting process.

The Supreme Court has not yet decided if it will hear the other Republican-based challenge to the state legislative districts.  That decision should come by the end of the month, as well.

*Arizona paid Clement $400,000 to represent it before the Supreme Court to defend anti-illegal immigration SB1070. That was paid from contributions to a state fund.

**Thanks to SCOTUSblog for providing that link to Arizona's Politics.

₁ Corrected from "Secretary of State". (Thanks to Eric Spencer from the Secretary of State's office for catching that error.)

(Tempe attorney Paul Weich contributed to this article. Mr. Weich practices election law, but has not represented any parties in the redistricting cases.)
Former Solicitors General Paul Clement (left) and Seth Waxman

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.


Sky Island Scriber said...

Can you provide a listing of the amounts and sources included in that 3.4 million figure?

Anonymous said...

Seth Waxman provided his services Pro-Bono. The Commission is only paying out of pocket costs. If you contact me I would be happy to provide legal costs since the beginning of the commission, which we have up-dated and made available monthly to Commission members and anyone who requests the information.

Ray Bladine, Executive Director AZ Independent Redistricting Commission. 602-542-5221

Mitch M. said...

1) Thanks, Sky Island Scriber. We initially planned to, ran out of time. I'm getting updated info from the AIRC this afternoon, so I might wait 'til then so that I don't have to post it twice.

2) Thanks, Anon. I did speak with Ray this morning, and will publish an update shortly.