Earlier today, Speaker John Boehner’s (R) office announced that American taxpayers would pay former Bush Solicitor General Paul Clement to defend the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. Clement, a former law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia, is widely viewed as one of nation’s leading appellate attorneys. He is also one of the most expensive:
Now head of King & Spalding’s appellate practice, Clement is rumored to be raking in $5 million a year—a figure seemingly confirmed during a panel discussion in July about the future of DC law firms. One of the panelists, O’Melveny & Myers’s DC managing partner Brian Brooks, let slip that O’Melveny had been in the running to land “a top DOJ official” but dropped out of the bidding when the annual ante reached $5 million—with three years guaranteed. “Everybody in the know knew it was Paul,” says a lawyer who attended the event.
Brooks dispelled remaining doubts when, moments later, he quipped that former solicitors general now “make $5 million a year.” Later Brooks laughed when asked about his comments, then coyly said, “I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Boehner’s office has thus far refused to release its engagement letter with this big-dollar attorney. He brushed off a five week-old request by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D) to disclose how much it would cost for the House to hire outside counsel to defend DOMA in court. Nevertheless, a letter from Boehner to Pelosi confirms that Clement is charging the American people for his work. Clement’s firm, King and Spalding, typically charges $900 an hour for its top attorneys.
Of course, it wasn’t so long ago that Boehner brought the nation within inches of a government shutdown because of his alleged fears that the United States is spending too much money. Apparently, Boehner’s commitment to fiscal responsibility isn’t nearly as strong as his need to ensure that no gay American receives their constitutional right to “equal protection of the laws.”