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Dayton hires former Supreme Court justice to handle lawsuit

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton Reuters file photo

ST. PAUL—Gov. Mark Dayton hired former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Sam Hanson to defend him in the lawsuit the Minnesota Legislature filed against him.

"After reviewing the lawsuit and in consultation with the Attorney General, I have chosen to hire outside counsel to represent us," Dayton said in a statement Wednesday.

The Legislature claims the governor's veto of their funding this month was an unconstitutional breach of the constitutionally mandated separation of powers. Dayton has noted the constitution gives him line-item veto authority.

The governor claims he has given the Legislature a way to get its funding back — by agreeing to his terms, which include undoing parts of the state's budget he signed into law earlier this month.

"I will continue to urge the Republican Legislative Majorities to agree to remove these fiscally irresponsible tax cuts, and to repeal their un-Minnesotan attacks on our state's immigrant communities and our teachers," Dayton said in a statement.

The Legislature, which just filed its lawsuit on Tuesday, is represented by the Kelley, Wolter and Scott law firm. The Legislature is receiving a 50 percent discount from the firm for its services.

Hanson, who is of counsel at the Briggs and Morgan law firm, was appointed to the high court and the Minnesota Court of Appeals by former Independence Party Gov. Jesse Ventura.

The governor, the governor's office and the Minnesota Management and Budget agency will receive a 25 percent discount for Briggs and Morgan firm's services. That means Hanson will receive $506.25-an-hour, rather than his usual $675 an hour.

The contracting agreement Hanson and Dayton signed on Wednesday says that the "fees incurred shall not exceed $150,000." The state will receive monthly statements from the firm.