There's been some cost-conscious press regarding the Green Party's "Recount2016" campaign, in which $7.4 million was raised -- but not much press about how much was spent by political parties, PACs, officeholders, and others, to oppose those recounts.

Approximately how much was spent on legal fees to oppose the Green Party's recount campaign?

(If some such fees are not publicly disclosed, then even a minimum-legal-wage man-hours estimate would be better than nothing.)

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    @Rathony - cost of political campaigns are absolutely ontopic here. If you disagree, you should ask about that on Meta. – user4012 Dec 13 '16 at 12:35
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    @Rathony - an election recount is not political? – user4012 Dec 13 '16 at 12:38
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    I think this question is on-topic. Stopping a political action with legal means is also a political action. Knowing what it costs is important to understand which organizations are capable of doing something like that. – Philipp Dec 13 '16 at 13:10
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    This discussion should be moved to meta where answers aren't limited to 600 characters and can be downvoted. Yes, it is absolutely possible to find out how much the Republican party spent on legal fees. Party expenditures are heavily monitored. The Trump University lawsuits may or may not be spent out of monitored funds, e.g. a public corporation. But this isn't about the Trump University lawsuits, which are only relevant because Trump is. This is a campaign activity paid with campaign funds. Except for the government parts. Not politics? Are you really serious? – Brythan Dec 13 '16 at 14:22
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    I have deleted a lot more discussion about whether or not this question is on-topic. As Brythan said, if you want to discuss this further, open a question on meta where you have space to properly make your argument and where it is available for future reference. – Philipp Dec 14 '16 at 11:00

This seems like a nice example of something we would call a Fermi problem in physics. Let me preface this by saying that as a physicist, I know little about the inner workings of the legal world, but here's my guess based on reading newspaper and blog accounts.

There seems to have been a two tiered approach, one fighting the recount in the courts and two fighting the recount on the ground at the county level. I think it's fair to assume that the Trump team focused its efforts in urban places where it perceived democrats could gain the most votes -- Milwaukee county in Wisconsin, Wayne, Macomb, and Oakland counties in Michigan. It seems like the court challenges in Pennsylvania succeeded, and so there was never a need to mount a ground effort in Philadelphia or Allegheny counties. I would guess that on order of ten attorneys were needed for each effort -- the court battle in Wisconsin, the court battle in Michigan, and the court battle in Pennsylvania. Then probably an additional ten attorneys were sent to each urban county. That's a total of 70 attorneys, working maybe full time for two weeks at conservatively $200 an hour.

So, my back of the envelope estimate is

70 attorneys x $200 per hour x 10 working days x 8 hours per day = $1 million

My error bars here are huge, but it seems to be the same order of magnitude that Stein was asked to spend by the states to get the recount effort started. I would be interested if anyone who knows more could make a better estimate.

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  • Good answer, just the sort of base estimation I was hoping for. One possible addition might be if the 10 attorneys sent to each urban county charged for travel expenses and lodgings. – agc Dec 15 '16 at 3:58
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    Yes, if the Trump campaign was not able to find locals, it's conceivable one needs to add another two or three thousand dollars per person in travel expenses. – user2309840 Dec 15 '16 at 6:20

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