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Bill McCollum: no idea how much Obama lawsuit costs.



One of the shibboleths of Republican politics is that government needs to run more like a business. So, if you're running the largest government law firm in the state, you'd be expected to keep track of your attorneys billable hours, just like they do in the private sector.

Not Attorney General Bill McCollum.

His office isn't tracking billable hours of his attorneys in the lawsuit to stop federal health reform. A spokeswoman for the office said it doesn't track the hours that in-house attorneys work on lawsuits generated in house (though it does track hours spent on lawsuits when it represents other clients/agencies).

Yet, in the lawsuit, McCollum is asking to "Award Plaintiffs their reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, and grant such other relief as the Court may deem just and proper."

If Florida prevails, it might be tough to collect any money if it's not tracking how much time McCollum's six staffers have spent on the suit. According to his office, they've been working on the case since December. Let's say that's three months of work. Since we only have access to the salaries of five of the attorneys ($492k yearly), we'll divide that by four and estimate that the office could have spent $123k in staff time so far.

McCollum's office says there's no accurate figure because the attorneys weren't exclusively working on this case. So it's probably only a few hundred dollars. For now. That doesn't include the amount of money that McCollum's former lobbying/lawfirm partner David Rivkin is earning as outside counsel. (Remember that McCollum initially said the suit would be handled in house).

The two Dems hoping to succeed McCollum, Sens Dave Aronberg and Dan Gelber, said the lack of record keeping was notable.

"This shows the lawsuit isn't about protecting taxpayers," said Aronberg. "It's about advancing a political career."

Said Gelber: "He's obviously not keeping track of hours so the public can't find out what his office is doing. Didn't we just do a bill today about transparency? Talk about hypocrisy."

-- Marc Caputo

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