California taxpayers are shelling out $25,000 a month for 40 hours of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s time to help the state strategize for upcoming clashes with the Trump administration, according to a contract obtained by a conservative watchdog group.
The California Legislature hired Holder and his Washington, D.C., firm, Covington & Burling, last month to assist with legal challenges over everything from immigration to environmental policies.
Judicial Watch, which obtained Holder’s contract through a records request, called the deal “crony corruption pure and simple.”
“The new records show California state legislators are wasting tax dollars to bankroll another corrupt politician – Eric Holder – under the pretense of attacking the Trump administration,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said in a written statement.
The firm did not respond to a request for comment.
On Tuesday, lawmakers paraded the former Obama administration official around the state capital, though they remained quiet on what exactly Holder would be helping them with. Holder himself was coy when asked about his role.
“I’m here just to assist these gentlemen and the people who they serve with in trying to protect the interests of the people of California,” Holder told reporters.
Asked how he was doing it, Holder responded, “Well.”
Holder had a closed-door meeting with Gov. Jerry Brown. State Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined in by phone, according to reports in The Los Angeles Times and Sacramento Bee.
Tuesday’s visit marked the first time Holder has come to the capital since his firm was hired last month as independent counsel.
Not all California lawmakers are on board with the hire. Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, a Republican, claims the three-month contract with Holder's firm is illegal.
In a letter to the opinion unit of the state attorney general’s office, Kiley contended that hiring Holder as outside counsel violates Article VII of the California Constitution.
Representatives for Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León – both Democrats -- said the legislature was exempt from rules that would apply to an executive agency.
Holder was one of former President Barack Obama’s longest-serving and most controversial Cabinet members.
On June 28, 2012, he became the first U.S. attorney general to be held in contempt of Congress on civil and criminal grounds for refusing to turn over documents on Operation Fast and Furious.