Two Democratic lawmakers asked Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen againFriday how much the state Department of Justice spent suing electionofficials this past fall.
Van Hollen, aRepublican, filed the lawsuit in September, demanding the stateGovernment Accountability Board verify the identities of tens ofthousands of voters dating back to 2006 before the Nov. 4 election. VanHollen contended the federal Help America Vote Act mandated such checks.
Democratsaccused Van Hollen of playing partisan games and trying todisenfranchise voters. The Government Accountability Board refused toperform the checks, saying they would burden local clerks alreadystruggling to prepare for the presidential election.
A Dane County judge ultimately tossed the lawsuit out weeks before the election. Van Hollen appealed.
Theboard formally voted Thursday to order the checks done next year, andVan Hollen said he would drop his lawsuit, declaring victory.
Sen.Mark Miller, D-Monona, and Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, leaders of theLegislature's Joint Finance Committee, asked Van Hollen in October howmuch the state Justice Department had spent on the lawsuit. Van Hollenreplied his agency had spent only $155.
Miller and Pocan scoffed at that figure.
Theysent another letter to Van Hollen on Friday, branding the $155 numberas “obviously incomplete” and demanding a detailed accounting ofattorney and staff hours devoted to the case along with correspondingsalary and benefits for those positions.
DOJspokesman Kevin St. John reiterated the $155 number was accurate. Sincethen, the agency has incurred “nominal” costs filing the appeal, hesaid, but he didn't have any figures Friday afternoon.
Hesaid the agency didn't keep track of its lawyers' time and costs on thelawsuit. The department typically tracks that data only in lawsuitswhere it might recover attorney fees, he said.