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The private law firm hired to represent the state Office of Legislative Services amid a federal grand jury investigation has submitted a $55,000 bill for its first few weeks on the job.

The law firm, Greenberg, Dauber, Epstein & Tucker, submitted an invoice Feb. 5 that totaled $55,032.25 for three lawyers' 189.7 billable hours, according to a redacted bill released by the OLS to Gannett New Jersey.

Though the firm did not send the OLS a written contract until Jan. 18, billing began on Dec. 30. By the time it sent a letter to OLS stipulating its rate -- $275 per hour, or $300 per hour in court -- the firm's lawyers had racked up $17,600 in fees.

Because the matter involves a federal grand jury looking at whether lawmakers personally profited from state budget decisions, little of the proceeding has been public.

Senate President Richard J. Codey, D-West Orange, has said the legal fight for which the outside counsel was hired only involves former Senate budget committee chairman Wayne Bryant, D-Lawnside, invoking an attorney-client privilege with the OLS, but subsequent subpoenas issued to partisan legislative offices and key lawmakers have indicated a broader scope.

OLS Executive Director Albert Porroni would neither confirm nor deny that the inquiry involves only Bryant.

The legal invoice renewed Republican calls for a meeting of the Legislative Services Commission, a bipartisan panel of lawmakers that oversees the OLS. Republicans have been calling for a commission meeting since it was revealed the OLS hired Edward J. Dauber without briefing lawmakers.


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