Reasons the Pennsylvania Legislature Paid Millions to Outside Law Firms in 2019 and 2020

Earlier this year, The Caucus and Spotlight PA filed public documents requests with the State House and Senate for bills, receipts and other documents related to lawmakers at private law firms. hired at taxpayer expense in 2019 and 2020.

In response, the legislature provided over 4,100 pages of documents.

The information was often redacted to the point of not being able to identify the case or who was represented.

It took reporters months to organize the files and match some invoices with other documents to determine the nature of the problems. The results are in the table below.

Based on a careful review of the documents, there are as many as two dozen additional cases the Chamber paid a private law firm for in 2019 and 2020. But due to lack of specificity, editorial staff and the organization of the pages, it is impossible to say for sure. For the same reasons, it is not possible to calculate the total cost to taxpayers for some of the cases.

The table shows cases that news agencies were able to identify using invoices and engagement letters, which law firms use to describe the services they plan to provide as well as the costs. Unlike a contract that goes through a competitive bidding process and should be made public on the state treasurer’s website, the legislature signs these letters without disclosure or public scrutiny.

Some affairs overlap between chambers, and a single chamber will sometimes use more than one cabinet for the same business.

Legislative leaders have not responded to requests for more information on censored or vaguely described cases.

To send advice on any of the database cases, contact journalists Angela Couloumbis and Sam Janesch.

90.5 WESA partners with Spotlight PA, a collaborative, reader-funded newsroom producing accountability journalism for all of Pennsylvania. More than

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