Photo by Michelle Stocker, The Capital Times

Democratic lawmakers are slamming a move by GOP leadership to hire outside lawyers to represent them in an ongoing redistricting lawsuit, warning Republicans are setting up taxpayers to be fleeced.

The Assembly and Senate Org committees voted along party lines Thursday to authorize the Legislature to hire the law firms of Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Bell Giftos St. John LLC “and any other firms, entities or counsel deemed necessary.”

“This is an open-ended as it can be, and it’s a blank check from taxpayers,” said Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha.

He offered amendments that would have limited lawmakers to working with the Legislative Reference Bureau or Leg Council, as well as one that would have required monthly expenditure reports from the outside firms.

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, refused to answer questions from reporters following an Assembly Rules meeting. Asked if it was an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars, Steineke said: “I’m not going to get into that,” saying several times a statement would be released by the office of Speaker Robin Vos.

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