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Lone Star Project Report

Your tax dollars at waste

AG Greg Abbott spending tax dollars on high-priced out-of-state lawyers instead of Texas based legal staff

Greg Abbott says he has it easy

At a 2012 rally in Tarrant County, Greg Abbott explained what he does as Attorney General. “My job’s pretty simple,” he said. “I go into the office, I sue the federal government, and then I go home.”

Things aren’t as simple or easy, though, for the millions of Texans harmed by the discriminatory redistricting plans Abbott defends on the taxpayers’ dime or the millions more who must tolerate an Attorney General who puts his own partisan gain and divisive ideology ahead of doing his job.

Last week, he took a partisan jab at the president on Twitter, noting another failed investment by Obama.” Maybe it’s time for Greg Abbott to start explaining his own failure as the state’s highest ranking law enforcement official and his irresponsible waste of taxpayer funds.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has over 700 lawyers on his staff, many of them making over $100,000 per year. Apparently, however, none are qualified to argue redistricting cases before a federal court in Washington, D.C.

Two out-of-state law firms cash in on Texas taxpayers

According to the office of Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, Attorney General Abbott spent over $1.5 million dollars in taxpayer funds to cover out-of-state legal counsel from May 9, 2012 to February 6, 2013. Over $1 million went to a single Chicago-based firm who unsuccessfully defended the State’s redistricting maps before a three-judge federal court in Washington, D.C. Another approximately $500,000 went to a Washington, D.C. firm to support Texas arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Fig. 1: Payments to Chicago-based Bartlit, Beck, Herman, Palenchar & Scott LLP
AbbotSpendingTable1
Fig. 2: Payments to D.C.-based Bancroft PLLC
AbbotSpendingTable2
See original documents here.

Abbott’s and out-of-state lawyers = lose, lose & lose for Texas taxpayers

Greg Abbott has put Texas taxpayers in a no win situation.

  • First, Abbott has forced Texas taxpayers to cover the cost of high-priced out-of-state attorneys to do legal work that could, and should, be performed by lawyers already on the AG’s payroll.
  • Second, the high-priced, out-of-state attorneys are arguing to use redistricting maps that racially discriminate against millions of Texas voters.
  • Finally, the high-priced, out-of-state attorneys aren’t very good. The Chicago legal team argued for weeks before a three-judge federal court in Washington, D.C. in defense of the Texas maps. The judges, two of which were appointed by Republican presidents, ruled unanimously against them. During arguments, the lead attorney for the out-of state firm exposed his ignorance of basic Texas government when he said:

I believe all of the statewide office holders in Texas are partisan, so they're party elections. I'm not from Texas so I'm not a one hundred percent sure of that.” – Adam Mortara, an attorney from the Chicago-based law firm Bartlit, Beck, Herman, Palenchar & Scott.