TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsine) - The Florida Senate has passed legislation that will cap the amount private attorneys can be paid when they are hired to represent the Attorney General's Office.

The bill passed in a 27-11 vote Thursday and will become law if it is signed by Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican former attorney general. The bill sets up a tier system for attorneys fees, ultimately capping them at $50 million.

Sandi Copes, a spokesperson for state Attorney General Bill McCollum, said they are still waiting for a signing date.

"Pay-to-play scandals involving public officials have caused citizens to lose trust in their government, and this bill will insulate the Attorney General's Office from inappropriate influence that is a concern with contingency fee contracts," McCollum said.

The bill is modeled after practices McCollum, who is running for governor, currently uses in his office. Similar reform was recently adopted by the State Board of Administration for firms hired for securities lawsuits.

The legislation also provides more readily available public information about contingency fee contracts, such as timesheets and firms' bids.

Sen. John Thrasher and Rep. Eric Eisnaugle sponsored the legislation, which passed the House with a 71-40 vote.

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