Redistricting Plaintiffs Think North Carolinians Should Pay for Special Masters’ Dinner
Plaintiffs’ lawyers argue that taxpayers should cover the “excessively vague” and “inappropriate” expenses
Unelected Special Masters charged the taxpayers $690/hr
Raleigh, N.C. — Well-funded liberal groups want North Carolina taxpayers to cover expenses racked up by the unelected Special Masters in the redistricting case.
Following intervention by the Democratic-majority state Supreme Court, the trial court mandated the use of a new congressional map in the 2022 elections. The map was created by a group of Special Masters and their team of assistants, who designed their own map after engaging in ex parte communications with experts for the plaintiffs.
The conflict-ridden Special Masters include former University of North Carolina System President Tom Ross, who during his last year at the system made a $600,000 base salary, and two former North Carolina Supreme Court justices, who benefit from taxpayer-funded pension plans.
The Special Masters and their assistants submitted nearly $200,000 worth of fees and expenses for eight days of work. They charged $690 per hour for their “expertise.”
Now, the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters (NCLCV), Common Cause, and other plaintiffs want the taxpayers to pony up for it.
That means taxpayers would be on the hook for a $174 tab at Bonefish Grill, a $6.80 trip to Cook-Out, a $57 lunch at the Lady Justice Café, and the work done by the Special Masters’ assistants, including the embattled leader of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, Sam Wang.
“It is outrageous that these well-heeled experts are exploiting their positions by charging our taxpayers an exorbitant hourly rate and asking them to pick up their restaurant tab,” Senate Redistricting Committee Chairman Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) said. “They’re treating taxpayers like their personal piggy bank and the plaintiffs’ attorneys are playing along.”
The General Assembly noted in comments that the invoices submitted by the Special Masters “appear to be either excessively vague or otherwise inappropriate,” and should be subject to “exacting scrutiny” to protect the taxpayers of North Carolina. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs are claiming their organizations have “limited resources” and that forcing them to pay would “chill future plaintiffs” from any further legal action.
Fact Check: In 2019, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee — led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder — helped bankroll two gerrymandering lawsuits in North Carolina. These groups have access to seemingly unlimited resources and have no plans to stop pursuing legal action until they get maps that will result in Democratic majorities. The NDRC is already planning a “‘seven figure’ investment” to target midterm elections in 17 states, including the North Carolina Supreme Court, in an effort to buy more influence over its redistricting litigation.
Plain and simple, North Carolina taxpayers should not be picking up the tab for the Special Masters’ Bonefish Grill dinner.