Home > News > More Headlines > Tally for private attorney fees in Cobell case rises
Printer friendly version
Tally for private attorney fees in Cobell case rises
THURSDAY, JULY 24, 2003

The Bush administration spent more than $700,000 in taxpayer funds to clear Secretary of Interior Gale Norton and former aide Neal McCaleb of contempt for their handling of the Indian trust.

According to newly disclosed figures, Norton's personal attorney was reimbursed nearly $500,000 as part of her fight to reverse the charges. The attorney, Herbert Fenster of Denver, never argued in court on her behalf -- the work he was paid for included legal briefs that a federal appeals court last week said were filed incorrectly.

McCaleb's lawyers received more than $200,000, the figures also show. His law firm filed a brief with the appeals court that relieved him of contempt sanctions but a significant portion of the work was in connection with an incident in which McCaleb erased his e-mails despite court orders against doing so.

The dollar amounts were reported by the Department of Justice in a July 21 filing with U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, who is overseeing the trust fund case. They are accompanied by a list of the more than 50 law firms that are receiving tax dollars to represent current and former government officials whose conduct has ensnared them in the debacle.

The figures show an even higher tally than what was reported just last month. According to a June 18 filing, the Bush administration spent $3.7 million on attorney fees.

The total amount is now put at $4.5 million, which includes reimbursements dating as far back as 1999. The figure is likely to increase because the current fiscal year doesn't end until September.

According to the document, the government doled out $2.5 million in fiscal year 2002 to a slew of law firms. Attorneys for Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles were paid nearly $140,000 -- earlier this year, he had told a House subcommittee that his legal bill was merely $300.

"The Justice Department has approved personal attorneys for us all," he said in March.

The law firm representing former Bureau of Indian Affairs chief information officer Dom Nessi was paid $215,637.50, the document shows. Nessi is often blamed for a $40 million computer system that is considered a failure.

Absent from the list is former assistant secretary Kevin Gover, who was held in contempt in February 1999 for failing to produce trust documents. Previously, he told Indianz.Com that he was content with the representation provided by government attorneys.

Former Secretary Bruce Babbitt, also held in contempt with Gover, retained the law firm of Patton Boggs. But the firm wasn't paid any money, according to the document.

For the past two years, the House Interior Appropriations subcommittee has added language to the Department of Interior's spending bill to allow taxpayer funds to be used for private law firms. At the same time, Rep. Charles Taylor (R-N.C.), the panel's chairman, and Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), its ranking member, have criticized the spiraling cost of trust reform.

The money comes out of the Interior's budget, which impacts Indian programs. Although the Department of Treasury is a defendant in the case, it has never been required to shoulder the cost of the attorney fees. According to an aide to Taylor, the White House Office of Management and Budget decided that Interior's budget would take the hit.

Relevant Documents:
Attorney Fee Disclosure (July 21, 2003)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice - http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/cases/cobell/index.htm
Indian Trust, Department of Interior - http://www.doi.gov/indiantrust

Related Stories:
Contempt charges against Interior vacated (7/21)
Commentary: Critics of Cobell, Lamberth shortsighted (7/21)
Neal McCaleb happy court is off his back (7/21)
Editorial: DOI, Congress can't be trusted to do right (7/21)
Editorial: What about holding tribes accountable? (7/21)
Norton cleared of contempt on trust fund (7/18)
Congress hacks Bush's accounting funds (7/16)
Trust fund provision stripped from House bill (7/15)
Swimmer partly right on trust fund rider (7/14)
Hearsay: House sending message to Lamberth (7/14)
Bill could strip DOI of trust fund management (7/14)
Bush official balks at large settlement for Cobell (7/10)
House takes testimony on trust fund settlement (7/10)
Editorial: Shame on Bush and Congress for rider (7/10)
Judge Lamberth hears closing arguments in Cobell trial (7/9)
Closing arguments set in Cobell trust fund trial (7/8)
Dicks pins anti-Cobell language on Taylor (7/7)
Editorial: Trust fund settlement bill 'disgraceful' (7/7)
Swimmer to appear on Native America Calling (7/7)
Swimmer finally off the stand in Cobell trial (7/3)
Swimmer testimony in Cobell trial wrapping up (7/2)
Swimmer recalls 'fuzzy' Reagan years (7/1)
Lamberth questions Norton's trust limits (7/1)
Pombo targets trust fund settlement program (6/30)
Swimmer testifies on trust fund accounting (6/27)
Swimmer challenged on Bush reform plans (6/27)
Swimmer expected to take stand in Cobell trial (6/25)
Griles gets Cobell wish list from House (6/26)
Taxpayers fund private attorneys to tune of $3M (6/25)
Norton offered settlement funds for IIM trust (6/20)
Swimmer testimony to come at end of Cobell trial (06/05)
Cason to take stand in Indian trust fund trial (6/4)
Indian trust standards debated (6/3)
Suit aims to halt reorganization (6/3)
Norton starts defense in trust fund trial (6/2)
Tribes stress unity on trust reform solutions (6/2)
Cobell welcomes a settlement to trust case (5/29)
Lamberth criticizes interference with trust fund case (05/22)
Tribes oppose OST expansion into Indian County (5/22)
Swimmer: Don't fear changes at Interior (5/22)
On trust, Swimmer turns to private sector (5/14)
Trial in Cobell trust fund case kicks off (05/02)
Bush reform plans debated in trust fund trial (05/02)
Cobell v. Norton Recap: Day 1 of Trial 1.5 (05/02)
Court tackles trust accounting and reform plans (05/01)
Court hears Norton's trust fund appeal (4/25)

Copyright © Indianz.Com

Stay Connected

On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud

More Headlines

Tribes rest easy as Supreme Court wraps up a surprising session (6/24)
Tribes in northern California take action to protect salmon runs (6/24)
Aaron Payment re-elected as chairman of Sault Ste. Marie Tribe (6/24)
Gun Lake Tribe hosts annual Sweet Grass Moon Powwow in July (6/24)
Native Sun News: First Native hockey referee 'Butchy' passes on (6/24)
Delphine Red Shirt: Lakota people denied voting rights on our land (6/24)
Ruth Hopkins: Saving sacred Bear Butte from a massive biker bar (6/24)
Terese Mailhot: Becoming a better ally after the Orlando shooting (6/24)
April Youpee-Roll: Elizabeth Warren owes more to Indian Country (6/24)
Another land-into-trust fix reportedly being drafted in the Senate (6/24)
Federal charges filed in kidnapping of girl on Fort Peck Reservation (6/24)
Non-Indian charged for trespassing at Nambe Pueblo in New Mexico (6/24)
St. Croix Chippewa Tribe warned not to launch marijuana operation (6/24)
Eastern Shawnee Tribe breaks ground on $34M expansion at casino (6/24)
Non-Indian gaming firm loses challenge to law for new tribal casino (6/24)
Grand Ronde Tribes to finish demolition work at site of old racetrack (6/24)
Supreme Court deadlocks in closely-watched tribal jurisdiction case (6/23)
Matthew Fletcher: 'Huge win' for Mississippi Choctaw court system (6/23)
Native American Basketball Invitational draws top talent to Arizona (6/23)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe almost done with long-awaited theater (6/23)
Susanville Rancheria thanks lawmakers for help with land-into-trust (6/23)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs schedules hearing on three bills (6/23)
Supreme Court backs affirmative action policy in long-running case (6/23)
Native Sun News: Senate committee takes on Indian Health Service (6/23)
Mark Trahant: A Republican plan to terminate Indian Health Service (6/23)
James Giago Davies: Welfare for corporations but nothing for tribes (6/23)
Peter d'Errico: Justice Clarence Thomas critiques federal Indian law (6/23)
Two charged for beating and setting woman from Crow Tribe on fire (6/23)
White House defends fracking regulation imposed on Indian lands (6/23)
Mescalero Apache woman hosts fundraiser for Miss United States (6/23)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to collect sales tax on entire reservation (6/23)
Seneca-Cayuga Nation ordered to conduct another council election (6/23)
Poarch Creek land-into-trust bill could help casino effort in Florida (6/23)
Cherokee Nation enters deal to run commercial casino in Arkansas (6/23)
Tohono O'odham Nation told to turn over casino-related documents (6/23)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee debates marijuana & sovereignty (6/22)
Major trust reform bill supported by Indian Country signed into law (6/22)
President Obama signs land-into-trust bill for Susanville Rancheria (6/22)
Chairman Jim Boyd from Colville Tribes passes away at age of 60 (6/22)
Tribes take more control of their land with HEARTH Act regulations (6/22)
Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community adds another 128 acres (6/22)
Lakota Country Times: Pine Ridge Reservation graduates celebrate (6/22)
Native Sun News: Year of Reconciliation sees another anniversary (6/22)
Former Fond du Lac Band chairman Peter Defoe passes on at 77 (6/22)
more headlines...

Advertisement

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.