Dem Lawyer’s Payment Needs GOP Authorization

MacIver News Service | June 28, 2011

[Madison, WI] Lawyers who represented Wisconsin Democrats against the state over Act 10 in the Supreme Court could face some complications getting paid for their work.

The collective bargaining law went before the Supreme Court earlier this month after Dane County Judge Mary Ann Sumi placed a temporary restraining order on it.  Democrats hired their own legal counsel to argue the TRO should remain in place.

Patrick Fuller, Assembly Chief Clerk, received a bill last week for $15,155 from Robert Jambois.  Jambois represented Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) during the case.

“We haven’t paid it,” Fuller told the MacIver Institute. “I can’t pay this until it’s authorized by Assembly Org.”

Assembly Org is the committee that administers the Assembly’s rules, schedules, and other affairs.  It is bi-partisan, but Republicans, being the majority party, have five members to the Democrats’ three.

Barca has approached Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, Assembly Org Chair, about the legal bill.  However, Fitzgerald said it has to be authorized by the committee, and has not committed to even putting it on the agenda.

Fuller said it is not unusual for bills to collect dust if he has not been authorized to pay them.  Sometimes he receives vague descriptions of services provided, and refuses payment until a more detailed invoice is produced, which might never happen.

“I think I still have a couple bills from 10 years ago,” he said.

Lester Pines, who represented Sen. Mark Miller (D-Monona) in the case, probably won’t have as much difficulty receiving payment.

Legal bill in the Senate don’t have to go through Senate Org.  Instead, each party’s leader reviews and authorizes their own expenses.  Since Miller is the minority leader, it will fall on Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay).

The Senate Chief Clerk has not received any information about Pine’s fees.