Members Pony Up Legal Fees

Posted July 16, 2007 at 6:33pm

A handful of law firms continued to turn a tidy profit from Members’ legal issues during the previous quarter, with a number of high-profile lawmakers shelling out thousands in legal fees over the past several months, according to a review of campaign finance filings.

Although a number of Members who report paying legal fees have come under investigation for potential ethics or criminal violations, lawmakers’ campaigns retain legal counsel for a variety of reasons. For instance, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) reports paying Wiley Rein $9,122 in “legal retainer” fees in the previous quarter, which an aide to the lawmaker said was done to assist the campaign in general legal matters. Likewise, other Members have hired lawyers to help deal with ethics accusations that have been leveled against them in the heat of a campaign.

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) — who has had several former aides and other close associates become caught up in federal corruption investigations both in Alaska and in Washington, D.C. — racked up $262,138 in fees this quarter. According to his filings, Young, who has not been reported to currently be the subject of a federal investigation himself, paid Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld $242,306 for “legal services,” while Tobin, O’Connor, Ewing & Richard received $19,832 in fees. Young paid Akin Gump $25,000 in the first quarter.

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), who has been accused of ethical lapses in last year’s elections by his opponent, paid McGuire Woods LLP $6,585 in “legal fees” according to his second-quarter filing.

House Appropriations ranking member Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), who has drawn federal scrutiny for his close ties to lobbyists and donors, continued to shell out significant campaign funds for legal fees. According to his filings, Lewis’ campaign paid $23,416 to Williams & Jensen for “legal services, photocopies and postage,” while Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher received an additional $22,969 for “legal services.”

Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) — who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies — paid Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans and Figel $22,672 in legal fees in the second quarter. Mollohan has come under federal scrutiny for certain earmarks he has steered to West Virginia over the years.

Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.) paid Wiley Rein $20,583 in the second quarter in legal fees as the federal investigation into his ties with jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff has appeared to intensify. Doolittle also paid Williams Mullen $30,000 May 10 for legal fees, according to his filings.

Former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.), who resigned last year after allegations surfaced regarding inappropriate communications with House pages, reported paying $35,332 to Zuckerman Spaeder in April for legal fees, according to his report. All told, Foley’s campaign has reported spending $483,000 on legal fees.

And ex-Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.), who lost his seat in November and also has been caught up in the Abramoff probe, reported paying more than $100,000 in the second quarter to the law firm Foley & Lardner LLP for “professional services.”