We’ve seen numerous examples of how Jason Gant’s incompetence as Secretary of State cost this state in terms of electoral integrity and voting rights. Now Larry Kurtz tweets to my attention an example of Gant’s boobery costing us money.
Last year Secretary Gant refused to certify Lora Hubbel, who had run unsuccessfully against Republcian Governor Dennis Daugaard in the primary, as Independent gubernatorial candidate Mike Myers’s running mate. Myers’s original running mate, Caitlin Collier, had withdrawn, but Gant, who read state law only to justify his own indolent partisanship, said the law wouldn’t allow him to place Hubbel on the ballot. Myers had to sue, and the courts rebuffed Gant, giving 11,000-some South Dakotans the pleasure of checking Myers–Hubbel on their November ballot.
Now each of those Myers–Hubbel voters has to pay Myers’s rookie lawyer about ninety cents. On Wednesday, Judge Lawrence Piersol said the state must pay attorney Edward Welch $9,307.50 in attorney fees, $558.45 for sales tax, and $400 for a filing fee. Welch also gets brownie points from the judge for charging only $85 an hour for the 109.5 hours he put in on his first case out of law school:
Welch on Saturday said he agreed to represent Myers after finding out that no other attorney wanted to take on the case of his former University of South Dakota law school professor. This was the first case ever for the newly-minted Welch.
“It was an exciting and exhilarating case for me, personally, and I was happy to get a favorable ruling for my client,” said Welch, who passed the bar exam in 2014. His hourly rate relative to his experience was commended by the judge.
“…Refreshingly, Welch, as a newly admitted lawyer, charged less than the prevailing rate in this community for an inexperienced lawyer,” Piersol wrote. “As a result, there should be no penalty for inexperience as that was fully taken into account in the $85 an hour rate requested” [“SD to Pay Lawyer $9K [sic] for Guv Candidate Who Sued State,” AP via Pierre Capital Journal, 2015.05.30].
Well done, Counselor! Keep up the good work. Now let’s hope our new Secretary of State can avoid costing us the cash and public trust that her predecessor did.