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Legislative Democrats in Wisconsin raise uprorar on outside counsel used by GOP

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January 5, 2011

Portal:State legislatures

By Kyle Maichle

MADISON, Wisconsin: Just two days after members of the Wisconsin Legislature were sworn into office, the uproar on redistricting has begun.[1]

On January 4, 2011, an Assembly committee approved contracts for the Madison-based Troupis Law Office and Milwaukee-based Michael Best and Frederich to consult the Legislature on legal advice related to redistricting. The move comes after the law firm of O'Neil, Cannon, Hollman, DeJong & Laing was fired by the new legislative leaders. The O'Neil firm was put in place when Democrats had control of both houses of the Legislature during the 2009-2010 session. The Michael Best firm employs Reince Priebus who is a candidate for Chairman of the Republican National Committee, while the Troupis Law Office is run by James Troupis, a frequent contributor to GOP candidates.[1]

Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller and Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca accused Jeff and Scott Fitzgerald of engaging in political payback by hiring outside counsel. In a letter written by the Minority Leaders of the Legislature, it said that: "your intention is to gerrymander legislative districts in order to gain an unfair political advantage."[2]

Scott Fitzgerald defended the use of outside counsel saying that it was to ensure that Wisconsin complied with state and federal redistricting laws. The letter written by Barca and Miller demanded the Fitzgerald's hire additional lawyers on the Wisconsin Legislative Council for redistricting. However, Jeff Fitzgerald said that the lawyers they hired have a background in redistricting law while those on the legislative council do not.[1]

Currently, Republicans control the Assembly 60-38-1 and the Senate 19-14.[1]

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