DNC's Legal Bills: $11 Million
By Ceci Connolly
The Democratic Party has run up $11 million in legal bills this year defending itself in investigations into fund-raising practices, a big problem for the party as it heads into next year's campaigns.
Even with an aggressive year-end fund-raising effort, the party will carry $10 million to $12 million in debt into next year, Democratic National Committee chairman Roy Romer said in an interview with the Associated Press last week. Nearly half of that, he said, will be in the form of unpaid legal bills, about $4.2 million.
Romer, Colorado's governor, accused the Republican-controlled House and Senate committees that have led the fund-raising investigations of trying to bankrupt his party by inundating it with dozens of subpoenas.
"I believe there was a concerted strategy on the part of the investigatory committees in the House and Senate just to use our resources up so that we would not be competitive in the election process," Romer charged.
"Much of the legal costs faced by the Democrats over questions of misconduct in fund raising is the result of resistance," said Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), chairman of the House committee investigating alleged campaign finance abuses. "Expensive attorneys are not needed by those willing to cooperate and tell the truth."
The GOP is about $6 million in debt and expects to reduce that to $4 million by year's end.
The magnitude of the Democrats' legal defense this year is stunning. Party officials said 34 lawyers and paralegals were paid to comb through 10 million pages of documents to find papers responding to more two dozen subpoenas from Congress and the Justice Department. Romer said the party's document gathering alone ran up $4.6 million in bills. In addition, the party spent $500,000 on in-house copying of documents, he said.
Private legal bills have reached $5.2 million, according to Romer. And the party has spent about $1 million more paying the private legal bills of current and former party officials who hired attorneys before they testified to Congress or federal grand juries, officials said.
The legal bills are the primary reason the party's overall debt swelled to $16 million this year.
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