Hiring Trump's lawyer for Alaska case likely to cost far more than Clarkson claims
Attorney General Kevin Clarkson decided to hire President Donald Trump’s attorney at $600 an hour to pursue a case against Alaska state workers, but it’s likely to cost a great deal more than the $50,000 that the department claimed in August.
The state already paid $34,875 to the firm Sept. 25, the Anchorage Daily News reported Friday, and the case is in its earliest stages.
The rest of the $50,000 from the original contract is probably already gone, paid to Consovoy McCarthy, a small right-wing law firm that is busy right now trying to help Trump keep his financial records secret.
In the press release announcing his lawsuit against the Alaska State Employees Association, Clarkson failed to mention that he had hired the law firm for $50,000 or why one of the many attorneys who work under him was not assigned to the task.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Clarkson have their eyes on a bigger prize than the Alaska courts. They want to make this a national test case for the effort to weaken labor unions, a legal fight that may end in the U.S. Supreme Court.
A $75,000 increase for Trump’s lawyers is in the works, the Daily News said, quoting a spokeswoman for Clarkson as saying she does not believe that the state has created a justification yet for skipping competitive bids and picking the firm selected by Clarkson.
At this rate, the $75,000 won’t last long either. In the state contract, attorneys Will Consovoy and Michael Connolly say they usually get $950 an hour, but they are giving a special deal to Alaska.
The “Alaska discounted rate” of $600 an hour is still substantially higher than what it takes to hire expert attorneys in Alaska. One of their associates, Steven Begakis, claims to usually charge $600 an hour, but he is giving Clarkson a bargain rate of $450 an hour.
It will take hundreds of hours by the discount lawyers to get this case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
If Consovoy or Connolly did the early work for which the lawyers have charged the state $34,875, they put in a combined total of about 58 hours of billable time. If Begakis performed the task, it’s closer to 77 hours.
And that was before Anchorage Judge Gregory Miller rejected most of the claims they made for Clarkson, granting a temporary restraining order delaying the implementation of Clarkson’s anti-union plan to require more frequent actions by employees to pay their dues.
The judge said the Dunleavy administration advanced a theory “contrary to the direct wording of Janus,” contrary to the position taken by the Walker administration, contrary to all known AG opinions from other states, contrary to nine federal court decisions, two administrative agency decisions and two arbitration awards.
In what seems like a legal strategy not worth anything close to the discounted rate of $600 an hour, the state is now repeating many of the claims rejected on the restraining order before the same judge. He is considering a proposed injunction.