GOP’s Redistricting Lawyers Are Big Donors
Lawyers paid $2.1 million to defend gerrymandering, give $76,000 to politicians.
Attorneys with two law firms hired Thursday by GOP legislative leaders to represent them in a landmark redistricting case have contributed about $76,500 to Wisconsin candidates.
The vote to hire the firms, Kirkland & Ellis, of Chicago, and Bell Giftos St. John, of Madison, was made in secret by two Senate and Assembly committees controlled by Republican legislative leaders. Democratic leaders opposed the hiring. Republicans on the committees, who voted to hire the firms with no limit on how much they will be paid, were:
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, Rochester
Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, of Kaukauna
Rep. Rob Brooks, of Saukville
Rep. Dan Knodl, of Germantown
Rep. Tyler August, of Lake Geneva
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, of Juneau
Senate President Roger Roth, of Appleton
Sen. Leah Vukmir, of Brookfield
The GOP leaders hired the lawyers to file friend-of-court briefs in support of the state’s appeal, which is being handled by Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel. Kirkland & Ellis attorneys regularly charge more than $800 an hour.
But last year, a panel of three federal judges ruled that legislative redistricting maps drawn up by majority Republicans in 2011 were so favorable to their party that they violated the voting rights of Democrats and were therefore unconstitutional. Last month, the same panel of judges ordered the legislature to create new maps by Nov. 1.
Attorneys for Kirkland & Ellis contributed about $75,500 mostly to Republicans for statewide office and the legislature between January 2010 and October 2016. The top recipients were:
Republican Gov. Scott Walker, $48,660;
Former Democratic candidate for governor Tom Barrett, $19,800;
GOP Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, $2,500;
Former Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke, $1,000.
Kevin St. John, an attorney with Bell Giftos St. John, contributed $1,000 to former Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen between January 2010 and October 2016. St. John was Van Hollen’s deputy attorney general from 2011 through 2015.
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- Former lawmakers to go ‘On the Issues’ for virtual bipartisan conversation on redistricting, Oct. 13 - Marquette University - Oct 12th, 2020
Read more about Gerrymandering of Legislative Districts here