A City of Cincinnati email has revealed city taxpayers paid $71,000 in outside lawyer fees to defend a court case in which five members of Cincinnati City Council are accused of illegally texting with each other about government business.
That's less than half of the $150,000 council approved for outside counsel when it became clear that the city law department had a conflict of interest because the council members wanted Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman brought into the case, but he fought against it. All nine members of council are clients of the city solicitor's office so the disagreement created the conflict.
Smitherman prevailed and outside counsel is no longer needed.
Last month Smitherman requested costs related to the case from City Solicitor Paula Boggs Muething. She answered via email, which Smitherman shared with The Enquirer Wednesday night.
A detailed look at the spending shows:
Taft Stettinius & Hollister, who represented the city, was paid $17,080.
Dinsmore & Shohl, who represented the council members, was paid $43,172.
The city also paid Binary Intelligence, which did technical work retrieving the text messages, was paid $11,708.25.
The total spent was $71,963, according to Boggs Muething. In addition, city attorneys have spent at least 350 hours on the case, though they are salaried employees, she said.