JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi public has paid nearly $74,000 to defend legislators in a federal lawsuit by voters who say they were disenfranchised in a state House race that went to a tiebreaker and was later flipped, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.
Five-term Democratic incumbent Bo Eaton won the tiebreaker in a drawing of straws overseen by the secretary of state in late 2015. The House rejected some ballots after the term started in early 2016, making Republican Mark Tullos the winner and giving the GOP a three-fifths supermajority in the House. That margin enables Republicans to pass tax changes without any votes from Democrats.
AP filed a public records request April 26 seeking information about payments to a private attorney, Michael Wallace, for representing Speaker Philip Gunn and others in the lawsuit.
The House Management Committee released a document to AP on Tuesday showing $73,735 in invoices from the Wise Carter law firm, where Wallace is a shareholder. The first invoice was from April 25, 2016, and the most recent was from April 25, 2017.