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Private attorneys for our lawmakers costing taxpayers plenty

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The costs are adding up quickly for Wisconsin taxpayers. As part of the Wisconsin legislature’s lame-duck session, Wisconsin lawmakers granted themselves the permission to hire outside legal counsel in any potential court case. Typically, the state Attorney General, the state’s chief lawyer, represents the state in lawsuits. But apparently Republicans who control the Legislature don’t think they can trust the Attorney General, a democrat, to argue on their behalf. So they gave themselves the right to hire outside legal counsel, at taxpayer expense. And those expenses are adding up. So far, in just the first five months of this year, GOP legislators have racked up $1.5 million in legal fees. They have hired these pricey private attorneys to defend themselves in a number of cases, including the legality of the lame-duck legislative session. There are also legal fights over redistricting, over abortion restrictions and over Act 10, so the legal bills will continue to mount. And we aren’t just paying the lawyers for their legal minds, or all the paperwork. One of the legal bills submitted shows a Chicago law firm charged Wisconsin taxpayers more than $6700 to fly a witness from Spain to a trial over redistricting. We don’t need more lawyers. We have an Attorney General whose salary we already pay. It seems the only winners in these fights are the lawyers, and the losers are Wisconsin taxpayers.

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