Nancy Pelosi questions GOP on DOMA contract ethics

The San Francisco Chronicle
House Dem leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco raised transparency and ethics questions about how the House GOP hired white-shoe lawyer Paul Clement of King and Spaulding at $520 an hour to defend DOMA in another, more threatening, letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Pelosi said the use of the special “Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group” to pursue the litigation “in no way diminished the need for normal oversight of the terms of any contract” that puts taxpayers on the hook for at least $500,000.

Pelosi said she and Dem whip Steny Hoyer, outvoted 2-3 on the so-called BLAG, as well as Democrats on the House Administration Committee, which authorized the contract, “were provided with no information about the contract prior to or, at the time of, its being signed on April 14th.”

Pelosi asked whether the contract was put out to competitive bid, who made the decision to hire King and Spaulding and by what criteria. She asked why Democrats were left out of the process.

she asked how the $520 an hour “blended rate” for the attorneys was negotiated, and whether whether the 25 percent discount is “the standard practice of King and Spalding to give a 25 percent discount for non-attorney time to all government agencies or does the discount only pertain to the House Republican leadership?”

She asked if the House Ethics Committee reviewed the discount in regard to the House’s “extensive rules governing the provision of gratuities to the House by a commercial entity.”

She asked for a copy of “all written restrictions imposed on King and Spalding’s extensive lobbying practice to ensure that no conflicts of interest arise on behalf of its extensive list of corporate clients while that firm is employed by the House.”

Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck had this to say:

“The minority leader’s new-found concern for saving taxpayers money is encouraging. We hope it means we can count on her support for reducing DOJ’s budget to recoup any costs incurred by the House so that taxpayers will bear no added cost for the administration’s refusal to defend the laws of the United States.”

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