Taxpayers were left with the bill for more than $800,000 worth of legal fees after Democrats moved to overturn the results of an Iowa election won by Republican congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks, congressional records show.
House Democrats took advantage of a provision they tucked into this year's rules package to use government money to challenge the results of the Iowa election in the Committee on House Administration. The Democrats on the committee paid high-priced law firm Jenner & Block a total of $699,294 to lead their attempt to overturn the election results, which had already been officially certified by Iowa's secretary of state after a recount. Republicans on the committee retained law firm Jones Day to respond to the challenge, paying it a substantially smaller sum of $126,942, according to committee records requested by the Washington Free Beacon.
Miller-Meeks's victory over Democratic nominee Rita Hart was never seriously in doubt, even with her small six-vote margin of victory. Several Democrats urged party leadership to drop the challenge, citing concerns that it undermined their criticism of former president Donald Trump questioning the results of the 2020 presidential election. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), however, stood by the decision to challenge the results through the House committee, all on the taxpayer dime.
Rep. Rodney Davis (R., Ill.), the ranking Republican on the committee, said the legal fees don't fully encompass the full cost of the election challenge—with salaries of staff who worked on the process, he believes the Democratic challenge cost taxpayers more than $1 million.
"At the end of the day, more than a million in taxpayer dollars will have been wasted on Speaker Pelosi's efforts to steal an election in order to grow her majority," Davis said. "Iowa's process was bipartisan, transparent, timely, and the outcome was never in doubt. This contest should have never been filed and Democrats on this committee should have dismissed it before a penny of tax dollars went to any law firm."
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D., Calif.), who chairs the committee and was responsible for retaining legal representation, declined to comment on the money spent on the failed attempt to unseat Miller-Meeks.
Hart dropped her challenge to the election on March 31, after the committee already paid Jenner & Block $670,241. An additional $29,053 was paid to the firm in the first week of April, after the challenge was abandoned.
The Free Beacon first reported in March that House Democrats created a fund they could tap to "resolve contested elections." It was not known at the time how much was spent to retain legal representation through the fund.
Attorneys at Jenner & Block contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates during the 2020 cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Despite her razor-thin 2020 election margin, Miller-Meeks is well-positioned for reelection next year due to incumbency status, a better national environment for Republicans, and favorable new district lines in Iowa.