Under the Dome

Taxpayer bill for redistricting so far: $695,049

The North Carolina legislature has paid $695,049 since March 11, 2011 in legal fees for advise on redistricting – far more than has ever been paid in the past, the Associated Press reports.

The state paid $131,475 in similar legal fees during the redistricting process that began in 2001, AP reported.

The legal fees, which ranged from $245 per hour to $825 per hour, were largely paid to two law firms.

About $570,981 of the fees went to Ogletree Deakins, a South Carolina based firm with offices in Raleigh. That firm includes Tom Farr, a Raleigh attorney who is an expert on redistricting. He represented the state Republican Party and other GOP plaintiffs challenging the Democratic plan a year ago. Another member of the firm is Phil Strach, a former legal counsel to the state GOP.

The legislature also hired the Jones Day firm in Washington to help get the new maps approved by the courts and the U.S. Justice Department. It was paid $124,067.

Itemized invoices also show payments made to the law firms to outside consultants. Through Ogletree Deakins, taxpayers paid GOP redistricting expert Thomas Hofeller $50,163 from April through November, Laura Leslie of WRAL reported. Hofeller has directed redistricting efforts for the Republican National Committee for the past three cycles. Also paid through the firm was Thomas Brunell, who received $15,000. Brunell is a political science professor at the University of Texas and the author the 2008 book, Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections are Bad for America.”

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