The U.S. House has renewed its agreement with a private attorney to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court at the same rate and conditions established in a previous contract.
According to a copy of the contract obtained by the Washington Blade and other media outlets, House General Counsel Kerry Kircher, whom U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) directed to defend DOMA in court, executed an agreement with Bancroft LLC to hire Paul Clement to litigate on behalf the anti-gay statute.
Kircher had previously contracted with King & Spalding for assistance with defense of DOMA, but the firm later dropped defense of the statute after an outcry emerged from the LGBT community over its agreement to defend the anti-gay law. In response, Clement, who served as U.S. solicitor general under former President George W. Bush, resigned from King & Spalding and became a partner at Bancroft LLC as he pledged to continue his duty in defending DOMA.
As in the previous contract, the contract enables the House to take Clement on retainer for initial sum cap that could reach $500,000 and a blended rate of $520 and hour. Boehner’s office had previously told the Blade the attorney would be hired under the same terms as the contract with King & Spalding.
Similarly, the contract mandates that Bancroft not engage in discrimination for work in this agreement on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or any other prohibited basis — but notably leaves out sexual orientation and gender identity. Additionally, a gag order in contract prevents shareholders or employees working as part of the agreement from advocacy on legislation pending before Congress that would alter or amend DOMA.
Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said the contract was executed without prior consultation with Democrats on the Committee on House Administration. The committee chair, Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), signed on in consent of the contract.
Additionally, Hammill said Pelosi hasn’t yet received a response yet from Boehner regarding inquiries regarding the cost and transparency of the contract.
“Leader Pelosi has not received any response from her April 18 and April 20 letters to Speaker Boehner pressing for additional details about the transparency, cost and ethics surrounding his decision to hire outside counsel to defend discrimination,” Hammill said.
A Boehner’s spokesperson didn’t respond on short notice to Blade’s request to comment on why Democrats were excluded from contract negotiations or why the speaker has yet to respond to the Democratic leader.