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article imageNC Governor hires private attorney to defend new voting law

By Kelly Fetty     Oct 2, 2013 in Politics
Raleigh - In a move that will cost North Carolina taxpayers $360 per hour, Governor Pat McCrory has hired a private attorney to defend North Carolina's new Voter Identification and Verification Act (VIVA) in Federal court.
On Monday the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to stop the controversial new law, which critics claim will disenfranchise minority, elderly and student voters.
Normally the state Attorney General's Office would be expected to defend the law in court, but McCrory opted to hire Karl S. "Butch" Bowers, Jr., a South Carolina lawyer, instead.
Bowers is a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association and has also represented the South Carolina Republican Party.
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has called the hiring an “unnecessary expense,” reports the Charlotte News and Observer.
"Our office has the primary responsibility for defending this and other lawsuits. I think it's unnecessary to hire additional attorneys," Cooper told the Associated Press. "I consider it part of my duty as attorney general to weigh in on important public policy issues, but under the law it is our duty to defend the state when it gets sued and we're going to continue to do that."
Cooper, a Democrat, has been openly critical of VIVA. On July 26 he sent the Governor a letter urging him to veto the sweeping new law. He also posted a petition on asking the Governor to "veto this regressive elections legislation."
Bob Stephens, the Governor's chief legal counsel, pointed to Cooper's past actions and defended the decision to hire Bowers.
“If you were charged with a crime, would you want to hire a lawyer who had gone out on the street corner and announced publically that you were guilty?” Stephens asked.
“We wouldn’t have done it but for these comments,” he said.
The Carolina Journal reports that Bowers will work with Alec Peters and Susan Nichols, two lawyers from the Attorney General's office.
“I’m confident we’re going to win,” Stephens said.
More about NC elections law, NC Attorney General Roy Cooper, NC Governor Pat McCrory, Viva
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