Gov. Bill Ritter turned down a $75-an-hour offer from the Colorado attorney general's office to handle legal matters regarding the disbursement of federal stimulus funds, instead hiring his former law partners for up to six times that cost.Apparently, spending money from the stimulus bill requires legal expertise. Several hundred hours of it. And, not just any legal eagles, no... the Colorado Attorney General's office is not good enough. They need the $400+ an hour lawyers for legal advice on how properly spend Stimulus dough.
The governor's lawyers told the attorney general's office in February that they planned to hire outside counsel to help with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money. Deputy Attorney General Geoff Blue told them his office was willing to do it, but his offer was rejected.
"They thought we didn't have the expertise or manpower," said Blue, who handles legal policy and government affairs. "We would've gotten the job done. But we told them, 'That's your call,' and we had nothing more to do with it."
A few weeks later, Ritter hired Hogan & Hartson through a no-bid contract. So far, the firm has been paid $40,000 from federal funds.
So, not only does the government exempt itself from its own procurement laws, the governor is hiring his old law-firm buddies at outrageous rates, all in a mad rush to spend tax dollars borrowed from our grandchildren. The legal product -- is it a self-licking lollypop?
Although Colorado has laws governing the circumstances under which the state can contract, the governor and other elected officials are exempt. In 1941, the state legislature buried a sentence in an unrelated section of the law that essentially permits elected officials to disregard procurement rules — including a requirement to seek multiple bids — when entering into contracts.
Although the firm is working at a discount, lawyers receive either $290 or $450 an hour, depending on who is working on the case.