GOP leggies hire former solicitor general in lame-duck suit, Elections Commission gets private attorneys

Photo by Michelle Stocker, The Capital Times

The GOP-controlled state Legislature has retained former Solicitor General Misha Tseytlin to represent it in one of several lawsuits filed over the lame-duck session laws.

Meanwhile, the Elections Commission will be represented in the case by former Deputy Attorney General Dan Bach and two colleagues at Lawton & Cates. The terms of the contract, which call for the firm to make up to $50,000, are similar to one the guv’s office signed with a different firm to represent Tony Evers in the suit.

That suit, brought by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, Disability Rights Wisconsin, Black Leaders Organizing for Communities and private citizens, alleges the extraordinary session wasn’t properly convened under the Wisconsin Constitution. Thus, the suit argues, the laws passed during the session aren’t valid.

The Joint Committee on Legislative Organization last month approved hiring outside counsel to represent the Legislature in the suit.

Tseytlin, who served as solicitor general under GOP AG Brad Schimel before the lame-duck bills did away with the office at DOJ, filed a notice of appearance Monday, according to online court records.

Tseytlin’s contract with the Legislature wasn’t immediately available.

Attorney General Josh Kaul declined to represent Evers in the suit, saying there was a conflict because the bills curtained his agency’s powers. Evers then hired the Madison law firm Pines Bach at a cost of up to $50,000.

Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney said the agency asked DOJ for representation. But DOJ told the commission it couldn’t provide representation due to a conflict, and the guv’s office then assigned outside counsel with Bach and fellow Lawton & Cates attorneys Dixon Gahnz and Terry Polich.

Bach served as deputy AG under former Dem Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager.

Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said the firm was chosen to represent the commission due to its “expertise with litigation involving state constitutional claims.” The contract calls for a rate of $275 per hour, as well as other expenses, with a cap of $50,000 unless the deal is amended “if litigation requires additional resources.”

See more in yesterday’s PM Update.

 

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