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April 21, 2009 3:56 PM

Franken's Recount Legal Tab Exceeds $1.2 Million

Posted by Brian Baxter

A week after a three-judge state court panel in Minnesota ruled in favor of would-be-senator-to-be Al Franken, the former comedian turned senatorial candidate is all but declaring himself victorious after a five-month battle in the courts.

And Franken's got the legal bills to prove it.

According to Federal Election Commission reports recently released by the Franken campaign, the Democratic challenger has spent more than $1.2 million on lawyers trying to win a seat on Capitol Hill. (Hat Tip: The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, whose reporters gamely soldier on despite their paper being in bankruptcy.)

And while Franken has already started hiring staff in anticipation of finally heading to Washington, D.C., he'll also need to scare up a sizable chunk of change to pay off those lawyers from Perkins Coie and Fredrikson & Byron.

FEC records show a debt of $926,839 owed to Perkins Coie, the firm of lead Franken recount lawyers Marc Elias and Kevin Hamilton. (Click here for some background on the lawyers behind both senatorial candidates.)

An additional $320,466 is listed as being owed to Fredrikson & Bryon, the Minneapolis firm of Franken's local counsel, former U.S. attorney for Minnesota David Lillehaug. FEC records also show Franken owing the lobbying arm of Minnesota firm Lockridge Grindal Nauen another $72,233.

Both the Coleman and Franken campaigns have spent roughly $6 million apiece on recount and legal efforts, the Star Trib reports, but it's Franken who still owes money to his lawyers while Coleman appears to be all paid up. (The Republican National Committee donated $250,000 to help kick start Coleman's recount campaign in late February, partly as a means of shoring up Coleman's legal team from Patton Boggs and Dorsey & Whitney.)

In January the widely read conservative blog Power Line--founded by partners from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Faegre & Benson--criticized the lawyers leading Coleman's recount campaign and urged Coleman to shake up his legal team. Now even Power Line, in a post about a Wall Street Journal editorial on shenanigans in the Minnesota recount, is admitting that Coleman's appeal has little chance of success.

The Star Trib reports that leading up to Coleman's appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court, Franken lists having $483,731 in cash on hand compared to Coleman's stated sum of $469,563.

Two Minnesota Supreme Court jurists--Chief Justice Eric Magnuson and justice G. Barry Anderson--were members of the state canvassing board initially convened in November to oversee the recount. Another judge who selected the three-judge panel that heard Coleman's recount complaint, Alan Page, happens to be a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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What a mess. It is going to quite a bit of time before all of this unwravels. I see a lot of $$ and waisted resources.

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