At $1,350 for an email, Hardin’s legal bill is headed for high six figures

By Jon Cassidy | Watchdog.org

HOUSTON — Rusty Hardin, the attorney who drew up a report on reasons to impeach University of Texas regent Wallace Hall, turned in his first invoice in more than seven months Monday, despite terms of his contract requiring monthly billing.

Hardin stopped submitting bills after his Dec. 6 invoice was widely criticized for its excesses. Newspapers around the state expressed shock that Hardin’s firm had run up more than $200,000 in charges in just 10 weeks from late August through October.

His new bill covers November 2013, and adds another $93,728.66 to the tally, keeping him on pace to bill around $700,000 for seven and a half months’ work. Hardin’s contract expired March 31.

A $1,350 email? You don’t put bourbon in it or anything?

The highlights of the new invoice include a $1,350 charge for writing a single email described as “lengthy.”

One associate billed 18 hours over three days at $100 per hour for preparing some binders and uploading materials to Dropbox, a file-sharing service. Save the cracks about old dial-up modems. If you estimate the file size for all 150,000 pages Hardin reviewed at around 56GB, it might take somewhere around 18 hours to upload, using a 2G phone connection.

Hardin’s investigation came about last year when lawmakers decided that Hall and a majority of the University of Texas System Board of Regents were supposedly “wasting taxpayer dollars” on an “ill-conceived, unnecessary and duplicative investigation,” in the words of Reps. Dan Branch and Jim Pitts, respectively.

Hardin has accused Hall of creating a burden for the University of Texas with his records reviews, but Hall’s five public information requests have generated around 3,000 pages of paperwork. He’s also reviewed some 100,000 pages of paperwork prepared for others.

Hardin, in contrast, has needed more than 150,000 pages, by his own estimate. The cost for reviewing all that paperwork is sizable. Just in November, Hardin’s firm billed between $18,850 and $27,400 for reviewing those records.

For a one-day hearing held Nov. 12, Hardin brought five associates with him. None of the others played a public role in the hearings, yet the cost to drive out and back came to $26,600.

Hardin did learn his lesson about paying $400 a night for a room at the Hampton Inn. This time, his attorneys just charged the state per diem rate of $138.

Hardin’s next invoice was due in January.

Contact Jon Cassidy at jon@watchdog.org or @jpcassidy000. If you would like to send him documents or messages anonymously, download the Tor browser and go to our SecureDrop submission page: http://5bygo7e2rpnrh5vo.onion

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

Top