This week, we learned that Florida would be the only state in the country not ordering vaccine doses for children under 5. As a policy move it’s nonsensical, but as a performative nod to the mouth-breathing anti-vaxxer constituency propping up modern conservative politics, DeSantis is simply using his public office to maximize his personal political ambitions!
Using the government to push symbolic nonsense just to whip up supporters may seem like a betrayal of the public trust, and that’s because it is.
But DeSantis routinely pushes this betrayal into overdrive, implementing policies guaranteed to land the state in expensive litigation. There’s the social media law that the Eleventh Circuit already laughed at, his war on the cruise industry for implementing vaccine requirements as private businesses, and his efforts to gut a Florida State Constitutional amendment granting voting rights to ex-felons. None of these policies offered any benefit to the state but they sure helped out some lawyers!
The Orlando Sentinel reports that DeSantis has sent around $2.8 million in taxpayer money so far to Cooper & Kirk, Chuck Cooper’s D.C. boutique that’s long served as a halfway house for budding GOP politicians from Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton to current Nevada Senate MAGA candidate Adam Laxalt. The firm’s tasked with helping the state defend all of these sure loser (or already lost) cases for upwards of $725/hour.
And yet Cooper & Kirk isn’t picking up all the checks!
DeSantis’ agency heads have brought in lawyers from other firms to bolster their legal muscle. Holtzman Vogel, which is led by GOP superlawyer and Virginia state Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, has received more than $1.6 million to defend SB 90, which put new restrictions on mail-in ballots. The multinational firms Eversheds Sutherland and Holland & Knight also have scored contracts.
Florida taxpayers can also look forward to future legal bills over its “Don’t Say Gay” and “Anti-Woke” laws. And someone is going to have to pay through the nose when Disney shows up to treat DeSantis like a rag doll. It’s a never ending cycle of: dubious government action, expensive litigation, humiliating loss, and repeat, where the only ones coming out ahead are the nascent DeSantis 2024 campaign and lawyers boasting deep conservative connections willing to Quixotically push some paper in exchange for public funds.
“Fiscally conservative Republicans must be thrilled with these expenses,” [State Sen. Tina] Polsky said. “Where are your values? What happens with fiscal conservatism when you purposely pass bills that are unconstitutional and you know will be challenged in courts?”
Those seem like rhetorical questions.
DeSantis taps DC law firm billing $725 an hour to defend culture war laws [Orlando Sentinel]
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.