Though House Republicans felt America could not spare any money for Planned Parenthood or NPR, they've agreed to pay a law firm $520 an hour, up to $500,000, to fight for the Defense of Marriage Act. Since President Obama said the Justice Department shouldn't continue defending the law, Republicans have hired Paul Clement, a solicitor general under President Bush, to represent their interests in about a dozen pending cases.
Politico has a copy of the contract between the House and the law firm King and Spaulding. It's unclear what exactly the $500,000 cap means, but the contract says the firm can quit if the bill reaches that number and its efforts are still unsuccessful. The firm is offering a 25% discount to the House, but that's also unexplained.
The move this week sparked the exchange of several testy letters between House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Speaker of the House John Boehner. (A letter writing feud seems delightfully retro; we appreciate that they didn't take this fight to Twitter.) Pelosi initially responded:
"The hypocrisy of this legal boondoggle is mind-blowing. Speaker Boehner is spending half a million dollars of taxpayer money to defend discrimination. If Republicans were really interested in cutting spending, this should be at the top of the list."
In another letter sent on Wednesday, Pelosi questioned how Clement was selected, how his rate was negotiated, and what restrictions would be placed on the firm's lobbying practice.
Boehner's spokesman answered:
"The minority leader's new-found concern for saving taxpayers money is encouraging. We hope it means we can count on her support for reducing DOJ's budget to recoup any costs incurred by the House so that taxpayers will bear no added cost for the administration's refusal to defend the laws of the United States."
Boehner is working to make the Department of Justice reimburse the House for the cost of litigation, since, "Obviously, DOJ's decision results in DOJ no longer needing the funds it would have otherwise expended defending the constitutionality of DOMA." Either way, government dollars would be financing the litigation, but somehow Republicans will come up with the money. This is precisely why they've been squirreling away change in a piggy bank marked "Money for Discriminating Against Gays."
House Sets $500K, $520-An-Hour Contract For DOMA Defense [Politico]
Pelosi Questions Boehner On DOMA Lawyer In Second Letter [Washington Post]
Nancy Pelosi Questions GOP On DOMA Contract Ethics [San Francisco Chronicle]