Just a quick note to link to Mary Jo Pitzl's latest story on azcentral.com about the ongoing costs of litigation for the multiple lawsuits the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission has to defend.
Legal battles over the state’s new political boundaries have cost taxpayers $1.4 million, and the legal meter has only begun to run.There, of course, is more to the story (both on azcentral and otherwise). I'll update this post on Wednesday afternoon with some specific data from the AIRC.
Records requested by The Arizona Republic show that the lion’s share of the expense — $1.3 million — has come from the Independent Redistricting Commission, which has been hit with four lawsuits since it started its work in 2011.
Other public costs come from the court fight over Gov. Jan Brewer’s 2011 removal of the commission’s chairwoman, Colleen Mathis, and the Legislature’s intervention in that lawsuit. Taxpayers footed the bill for both sides of that case.
The commission’s legal costs have been a sore topic at the Legislature, where the majority Republicans disagree with the new congressional and legislative maps the commission drew last year. The commission has twice said it needs more money to defend its work, angering some lawmakers who believe the commission is wasting taxpayer dollars.
Last month, Executive Director Ray Bladine said the office needs $2 million in extra cash to get through the second half of this budget year. He plans to send a formal request to the Legislature this week. The commission is also asking Brewer’s office to give it an advance on its fourth-quarter payment. That request has gone unanswered.
Lawmakers are loath to give more money to the five-member commission, even though the Legislature has added to the legal tab by filing its own lawsuit, creating another instance in which taxpayer dollars are covering attorneys fees on both sides of a case.