The Arizona Republic

Gov. Jan Brewer’s office has received nearly $20,000 in private donations to help Arizona mount a legal defense against lawsuits related to the state’s tough new immigration law.

Nearly 440 individuals in 46 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have contributed to the fund. The smallest contribution is $1 and the largest is for $750, which came from a Kansas resident, according to a list of donors provided at The Republic’s request.

The office said it plans to deposit an additional $7,000 into the fund Thursday.

The money will likely come in handy.

The governor announced last month that she had hired private counsel to represent her in the federal lawsuits pending against the state. She is named as a defendant in four of the five cases.

The recently executed contract with Phoenix law firm Snell & Wilmer shows that the primary attorneys on the case will charge adjusted rates between $225 and $450 per hour for their work.

If the firm needs to assign additional lawyers to the defense, it will discount its billing rates 20 percent, not to exceed $350 per hour. In addition, the firm will charge for other costs, including copying, filing fees, travel expenses and the retention of expert witnesses, the contract shows.

The Governor’s Office has not yet received any bills from the firm, Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman said Wednesday. The charges, once they start coming in, will be paid for with both the private donations and public monies.

Brewer made the decision to hire outside counsel last month after Attorney General Terry Goddard declined to represent her personally in the suits.

Goddard had maintained that he would still mount a defense for the state, but Brewer has since asked him to step aside, saying his stated opposition to Senate Bill 1070 represents a conflict of interest.

The law makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally. It states that an officer engaged in a lawful stop, detention or arrest shall, when practicable, ask about a person’s legal status when reasonable suspicion exists that the person is in the U.S. illegally.

Goddard, who has already filed a motion in one of the cases, has said the governor’s move to have him removed from the defense infringes on his rights as attorney general, and has not stated whether he will honor her request to recuse himself.

The governor officially established the new “Border Security Fund” via executive order. Wednesday’s decree establishes that three trustees, to be named by the governor, will oversee the fund and that two of those three trustees must sign off on any disbursements before they are made.

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