Messer Defends Wife’s $20K a Month Contract With City

Jennifer Messer has been paid $580,000 by the city of Fishers since 2015

Jennifer Messer, the wife of Rep. Luke Messer, R-Ind., is receiving criticism for being $20,000 a month for legal consulting by an Indianapolis suburb. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Rep. Luke Messer, a potential candidate for Indiana’s Senate race, is defending his wife being paid $580,000 over the past two years for legal consulting by an Indianapolis suburb.

Jennifer Messer is paid by the suburb of Fishers $20,000 a month as a contract attorney, which is more than the city’s two staff attorneys, an investigation by The Associated Press found.

While the salary is within legal limits, much of the work she is contracted to do is handled by salaried attorneys or local firms. 

But Messer, who ran on a pledge to “stop the reckless spending” in government, defended his wife’s work, calling her “the brains of the Messer outfit.”

Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness also defended the arrangement.

“The size of the City of Fishers, combined with the volume of economic development activity, merits her specialized legal services,” he said.

But Paul Helmke, a former Republican mayor of Fort Wayne, criticized the payment for Messer, who lives in McLean, Va.

“What does she do each month that can’t be done by the other folks on staff — particularly when she’s not there? Even if she were the only lawyer for a city, that would still be an extraordinary amount of money,” he said.

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