MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A state appeals court on Wednesday refused to put on hold a judge’s ruling that Republican leaders of the Wisconsin Legislature illegally hired private taxpayer-funded attorneys to represent them in anticipation of legal challenges over redistricting.
Republicans wanted to put the ruling on hold while they pursue an appeal. The judge’s April 29 ruling voided the contracts with two outside law firms and barred any future payments. The contracts allowed for spending of more than $1 million in taxpayer money to the two law firms.
Dane County Circuit Judge Stephen Ehlke last month declined to put his ruling on hold and the state appeals court on Wednesday agreed that the ruling should not be stayed.
The appeals court said that Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu did not establish why a stay was necessary. The court also said it was not persuaded by their arguments claiming irreparable harm from the earlier ruling.
Four Madison teachers, including the current and incoming teachers union president, brought the lawsuit arguing that state law does not allow for legislative leaders to hire attorneys outside the state Department of Justice before a lawsuit has been filed. The Legislature has yet to begin the redistricting process.