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Bishop Pays $55K to Lawyers

Rep. Sanford Bishop’s (D-Ga.) campaign racked up $55,000 in legal expenses to the law firm Greenberg Traurig in the first half of 2009, according to campaign finance reports.

The Georgia lawmaker, who has not detailed any other legal expenses in reports filed with the Federal Election Commission since at least 2001, paid $30,000 to Greenberg Traurig’s Washington, D.C., office on June 4. He had issued a $25,000 payment to the firm’s Atlanta office in March.

Neither a Bishop spokeswoman in his D.C. office nor Columbus, Ga., City Councilwoman Evelyn Turner Pugh, listed as the campaign’s treasurer in FEC documents, returned telephone messages Tuesday.

Earlier this year, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation probed whether a local youth program run by the Muscogee County (Ga.) Marshal’s Office, which has received nearly $200,000 in federal earmarks from Bishop, misappropriated funds when it hired the House lawmaker’s stepdaughter and her husband.

That investigation ended in late May, when the GBI determined no wrongdoing had occurred.

It is not clear whether Bishop’s recent legal bills are related to that investigation.

GBI Special Agent in Charge Rodney Wall, who oversees the Columbus office, was out of town and unavailable for comment Tuesday. But in an April interview with Roll Call, Wall said Bishop was not a subject of the investigation.

“Congressman Bishop has no interest [to investigators] in this case,— Wall said. Bishop’s name was raised during the probe only because he had obtained the grant for the “Junior Marshal— program, which provides mentoring to middle school students, Wall added.

Bishop obtained $117,000 for the program in the fiscal 2008 Commerce, Justice and Science spending bill and an additional $75,000 in the fiscal 2009 omnibus bill.

The Georgia lawmaker did not list a request for the program in his publicly released earmark requests for the fiscal 2010 appropriations.