D.C. law firm BakerHostetler will handle the House Republicans' lawsuit against President Barack Obama. House Administration Chairwoman Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., said the firm has been contracted to represent the House in the district court civil suit. According to the contract, the lawsuit will cost the House up to $350,000, billed at a rate of $500/hour.
It's been about a month since House Republicans voted to move forward with an odd lawsuit against President Obama, and yesterday, the election-year stunt got a price tag.
In a statement, Miller, who signed the contract with the powerful Beltway law firm, said the $350,000 in taxpayer money is a "cap," which "will not be raised."
What happens if the lawsuit drags on for years and the $350,000 is exhausted? Your guess is as good as mine.
It's worth noting that the choice of BakerHostetler to represent House Republicans -- and by extension, us, since we're paying for this exercise -- is probably not an accident. One of the most prominent attorneys touting the anti-Obama lawsuit has been David Rivkin, a veteran of the Reagan and H.W. Bush administrations. Rivkin is a partner at BakerHostetler, and the contract stipulates that Rivkin will personally tackle a "substantial portion" of the litigation.
One gets the sense GOP officials on Capitol Hill saw Rivkin's July op-ed in the Wall Street Journal and said, "Hey, we should hire that guy!"
Regardless, the larger question is whether this stunt is worth $350,000 of our money.
For his part, Norm Ornstein openly mocked the "fiscally conservative" House majority for hiring a $500-per-house attorney "for political showboating."
The point isn't that $350,000 is somehow extraordinary. It's not. For you and me, it's an enormous amount of money, but in the context of federal expenditures, it's a rounding error.
But the expenditure rankles largely because it's such a shameless partisan stunt. In case anyone's forgotten, after months of rhetoric about a lawless, out-of-control White House, GOP leaders decided to sue -- over a delayed deadline for an obscure Affordable Care Act provision.
Making matters slightly worse, when the Bush/Cheney administration delayed comparable deadlines while implementing Medicare Part D, no one cared, and certainly no one thought to literally make a federal case out of it. Worse still, the Republicans are suing to require the Obama administration to immediately implement a policy the GOP lawmakers themselves do not actually want to see implemented.
In recent years, GOP leaders have repeatedly said "we're broke" as a nation, and as such Republicans cannot and will not invest in job creation or any other domestic priority. But miraculously, when GOP officials want to undermine the White House -- or launch missiles in the Middle East -- they discover some money hiding between the congressional couch cushions (or decide that paying for their priorities just isn't that important).
This $350,000, by the way, is just for this one lawsuit. It does not include the millions of dollars House Republicans intend to spend on a new Benghazi committee or the millions of dollars House Republicans have already spent to investigate an IRS "scandal" that does exist in reality.