It has come to light that House Administration Committee Chairman Dan Lungren (R-CA) secretly approved a $500,000 increase to a contract with a private law firm to defend the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in federal court. While the increase was approved in September, neither the public nor the Democratic House minority was informed until this week, Roll Call reports.
The contract now authorizes Bancroft PLLC and former Solicitor General Paul Clement (R) to spend up to $2 million in to defend DOMA — the second increase to what was originally a $1 million cap. The U.S. Department of Justice stopped defending the 1996 law in February 2011 after determining the law to be in conflict with the U.S. Constittuion.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) denounced the increased expense in a statement:
It’s bad enough that Speaker Boehner and House Republicans are wasting taxpayer dollars to defend the indefensible Defense of Marriage Act – and losing in every case. Now, they have reached a new low – signing a secret contract to spend more public money on their legal boondoggle without informing Democrats. Their actions are simply unconscionable; their decisions are utterly irresponsible.
Hiding this contract from voters in the midst of an election season was a cynical move at best, and a betrayal of the public trust at worst. With Americans focused on the creation of jobs and the growth of our economy, Republicans should not be spending $2 million to defend discrimination in our country.
Though Lungren lost re-election in November, the Republicans maintained control of the House — and its operating budget.
At a Thursday press conference — ironically focusing on his view that “Washington has a spending problem” — House Speaker John Boehner was asked about the expenditures. The Ohio Republican angrily responded that if the Department of Justice won’t defend the law of the land, Congress will.