BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A little-known legislative fund is being used by Idaho lawmakers to pay for outside legal counsel rather than rely on the state's attorney general's office.

The Legislative Legal Defense Fund has paid nearly $275,500 over the past three years for private attorneys to provide input on the takeover of federal public lands, sage grouse and the state's health insurance exchange. Republican lawmakers proposed creating the fund in 2012.

It was pitched as a way to pay for outside legal expenses one year after the Idaho Legislature rejected a plan to set a legislative counsel office rather than rely on opinions from the attorney general.

The fund was originally given $200,000 to be split between the House and Senate and another $1 million this year. House Speaker Scott Bedke and Senate Pro Tem Brent Hill — the top two legislative leaders — control the account's expenses.