Lewis, DeLay pay dearly for counsel

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis spent $200,000 to retain lawyers in California and Washington following media reports linking him to the federal probe of a powerful lobbying firm with close ties to the chairman, according to recent campaign filings.

The California Republican paid Los Angeles-based Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP $200,000 to retain the services of its lawyers, according to the most recent Federal Election Commission (FEC) filing by the Lewis for Congress Committee.

Lewis faces potential federal scrutiny for his ties to lobbyists with Copeland, Lowery, Jacquez, Denton & White, a once-powerful lobbying firm that split up earlier this year after reports it was under federal investigation for its ties to Lewis.

The expenditures were first posted Sunday on the website politicalmoneyline.com, a nonpartisan database of campaign-finance information.

Earlier this year, Lewis retained Robert Bonner in Gibson, Dunn’s Los Angeles office and Joseph Warin in the firm’s Washington office, as well as other attorneys affiliated with the firm, to represent him in the probe.

“We consulted in advance with the Ethics Committee in full compliance with House Rules regarding the use of campaign funds for legal representation,” Barbara Comstock of Blank and Rome LLP, who is handling legal communications for Lewis, wrote in an e-mail. “An initial retainer then was paid to Gibson Dunn & Crutcher.”

Lewis wasn’t the only Republican lawmaker to pay hefty legal bills last year. Former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) paid a combined $485,275 in legal fees to six separate firms during the last filing period, according to PoliticalMoneyLine.

DeLay paid $265,000 to the Washington office of McDermott, Will & Emery; $75,000 to the Richmond, Va., office of McGuire Woods LLP; $69,410 to Blank Rome in Washington; $40,000 to McGahn & Associates PLC of Washington; $25,000 to the Houston office of Bracewell & Giuliani LLP; and $10,865 to Andy Taylor & Associates PC, also of Houston. Comstock did some work for DeLay as well.

As of the July 15 reporting deadline, DeLay’s reelection campaign had more than $640,000 on hand, but the retired former majority leader may need that to mount an expected campaign for his old seat if a federal appeals court requires his name to stay on the ballot in November.