Hold on to your wallets, taxpayers of North Carolina. The same Republican legislative leaders who’ve boasted of putting more money in them thanks to tax cuts are picking your pockets with the other hand to pay GOP connected lawyers to defend ludicrous laws. It is a disgrace for GOP leaders, and an embarrassment to the people of this state.
So far, the costs for outside attorneys to defend things like HB2 and voter suppression laws are at $10.5 million and counting. Counting, because GOP leaders are determined to defend their their laws driven by hard-right ideology right through the appeals process.
A panel of federal judges overturned the state’s voter suppression laws, including Voter ID, but Republicans are happy to let the public pay, around $4.9 million, so far to defend the law. Another $3.7 million has gone to defend redistricting plans that courts also rejected because of racial gerrymandering.
The legal fees were disclosed thank to a public records request by The Charlotte Observer.
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GOP leaders blame Attorney General Roy Cooper, now the governor-elect, for the expense because he, they say, hasn’t done his job in defending their bad law, which again, they say, is why they’ve had to go outside. Doubtless they’ll also blame Cooper for the expense in Gov. Pat McCrory’s prolonged recount demands in his quest to overturn Cooper’s victory against him in the governor’s race.
Republicans claim, of course to be the party of conservative economics. But their much-boasted-of tax cuts have helped mostly the wealthy and big business, done little for average North Carolinians, and thanks to HB2 have hardly flooded the state with new jobs and business.
Their spending on outside attorneys, however, may take the prize for the greatest example of the consequences of foolish legislation driven by emotion and ideology.
Anita Earls is executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, and her group has fought GOP-sponsored laws. She says Republicans in effect formed a “shadow” Justice Department “thereby enriching private attorneys who are unanswerable to the public and unaccountable to the voters.”
Alas, it appears that the public is going to be asked to dig ever deeper. That’s money that won’t go for teachers, for human services needs. Of course, Republicans haven’t shown much interest in those things, anyway. One reason Cooper won this election is because the people do care.