ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — State Auditor Rebecca Otto has paid out $21,000 in legal fees already to a law firm she retained to give her advice about a new audit privatization law.

Documents released to The Associated Press under a government records request show the firm was retained in June. Lawyers assigned to her file bill at rates ranging from $290 to $490 per hour, but she is getting a 15 percent discount under the Fredrikson and Byron contract.

The three-term Democrat is engaged in a heated dispute with legislators over a law change allowing counties to outsource financial audits to private companies.

Otto released a statement in which she says the firm was brought on "to help me asses the implications of this law and its impact on the core function of auditing."