The Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption is costing the state of New York $300,000 in legal fees, according to The Wall Street Journal. This includes $550 per hour for the lead attorney who is representing the anticorruption commission during the investigation by federal prosecutors.
The firm involved is Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP. It has represented the commission in meetings with federal prosecutors “and any other law enforcement or regulatory body, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” according to the contract.
The commission was created by Governor Andrew Cuomo last summer to find wrongdoing in Albany. The commission stopped operating in March following the passage of ethics reforms by lawmakers. The case files of the commission were taken over by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and he has been pursuing the cases and investigating issues surrounding the disbanding of the commission.
The state Attorney General’s office approved the contract on July 30 and is was approved by the state Comptroller’s Office afterwards. It is backdated to May 16, 2014 and it expires on December 31, 2014.
Criminal defense attorney Michael Koenig was the lawyer hired to represent the Moreland Commission. He will bill $550 per hour, per the contract, while other members of the law firm will bill anywhere from $125 per hour to $425 per hour. According to the contract, the firm “has agreed to discount its normal and customary fees for attorneys and paralegals.”
The contract also states that New York will pay no more than $300,000 for the legal services of the firm, “unless otherwise amended in writing by all parties” and is approved by the attorney general and the office of the comptroller.
Cuomo defended the practice of the state paying the lawyer fees for the commission, saying the following:
“The commission is disbanded, but it still has work to do,” he said. “It’s in the process of referring cases to other offices and following up on those referrals—so that’s an important part of the job, is closing down in the right way. So I think it’s fine.”