Rick Perry has assembled the best legal team money can buy, but who's paying?
Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports that Texas taxpayers have already shelled out about $80,000 to retain the governor's lead attorney, prominent Austin criminal lawyer David Botsford.
Tony Buzbee, a Houston attorney who has been named lead attorney for the defense in Perry's abuse of power indictment, says it hasn't been decided exactly who will pay the not insignificant bill of the legal team.
"We haven't worked out that arrangement, obviously the state will pay some of this," Buzbee said. "Without this illegal indictment, the taxpayers would not have to pay anything."
It is clear Perry is sparing no expense in his defense.
Ben Ginsburg represented George W. Bush in the 2000 Florida recount, as did Bobby Birchfield, both of whom are now on Perry's team.
He is also represented by Tom Phillips, a former justice of the Texas Supreme Court.
"Which of these lawyers will be paid by the state of Texas, and which will be paid by a separate fund, possibly a defense fund?" Buzbee asked. "That hasn't been decided yet."
Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running to succeed Perry, has been asked for an opinion on whether the taxpayers have to pay Perry's legal bills. So far, Abbott has not responded to what is now a politically charged question.
State law is unclear about who should pay the expenses of a governor who is indicted for duties performed in the course of his duties.
Generally, when individuals are charged in connection with work they have done for a firm or a government agency, their legal bills are paid by the agency that employs them, but not always.
Some states specifically bar tax money from going to pay the legal expenses of officials who are charged with misconduct. That was one of the reasons Sarah Palin gave for stepping down as governor of Alaska. She said political opponents were peppering her with legal complaints, specifically so she would have to spend her own money defending herself.
The cost of Perry's dream team of lawyers will easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But Democrats in the Legislature are not afraid to sock taxpayers with legal bills. The tab for the attempt by lawmakers to impeach a member of the University of Texas Board of Regents, Wallace Hall, topped $400,000, all of which was paid by taxpayers.