How much does a card cost: a law firm accounts for 1/3 of redistricting expenses

As lawmakers consider their next redistricting decision, the overall cost has soared to nearly $1.8 million, according to accounting through April 19 provided by the Legislative Services Commission.

Most of this expense was charged to the Legislative Redistricting Task Force, which has accounted for $983,283 since August 2019. Their largest item was an expense of $282,271 for Ohio University, the school responsible for preparing census data for cartographers. . In total, the school received $427,597 for its efforts.

The second largest item billed to the legislative task force was $103,000 at the law firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough. GOP lawmakers hired two Nelson Mullins attorneys, Thomas Farr and Phillip Strach, at a total cost of $114,500 to advise the General Assembly on redistricting. Farr and Strach made a name for themselves in part by defending racist North Carolina maps in court.

These tips can be expensive, but representing them costs more. After the cards were disputed in court, Senate Speaker Matt Huffman and House Speaker Bob Cupp once again turned to Nelson Mullins to serve as the defense team. So far, they’ve racked up nearly $475,000 in attorney fees.

Between the company’s work as special counsel advising the mapmakers and his unsuccessful work defending these maps in court, Nelson Mullins earned $589,512.62 – about a third of the total cost of the redrawing already, with more billable hours to come.

And it’s not the only company making money representing Republican leaders — Taft, Stettinius & Hollister earned $30,986 representing Huffman and Cupp. In addition, another law firm, Organ Law, brought in $68,022 representing the Ohio Redistricting Commission.

Across the aisle, meanwhile, law firm Ice Miller raised $174,792 representing Democratic commission members Sen. Vernon Sykes and House Minority Leader Allison Russo.

In total, Ohio has spent nearly $750,000 in litigation through April 19.

The $1.8 million accounting provided by the Legislative Services Commission may be far from the end of redistricting spending. Late last month, Republican members of the Ohio redistricting commission decided to ignore proposals put forward by a pair of independent mappers they brought in to draw the boundary. This episode cost the state $89,000, but the bill for only one of the mappers is reflected in the current accounting.

Likewise, there are more bills to come on the legal front. The most recent bill is dated April 11 – four days before the state Supreme Court rejected lawmakers’ fourth attempt to draw legislative boundaries.

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