Wall Street Journal: “Pay-to-Sue” / Jim Hood: “First come, first served”

The Wall Street Journal writes:

Governor Ed Rendell has finally had to defend his “pay-to-play” relationship with Houston plaintiffs lawyer F. Kenneth Bailey. That’s the good news. The rest of this underreported story is that Mr. Bailey has been running a nationwide “pay-to-sue” operation with Democratic state Attorneys General.

What do you know but they mention our man, Attorney General Jim Hood who Bailey gave $75,000 in contributions to as well as the Democratic Attorney General Association which received $85,000 from Bailey and gave $1.15 million to Jim Hood.

Al Hopkins documented Jim Hood’s pay-to-sue operation in 2007 and in response, Hood attacked Hopkins’ military service. We covered here and Y’all Politics covered here. Here is the Hopkins spreadsheet of contributing firms and contingency fees awarded pertaining to Hood. But these facts stand worth repeating in light of the Wall Street Journal editorial:

On November 15, 2005, Jim Hood received $15,000 from an attorney with Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz of New York. Their firm received a state contract 3 months later on February 16, 2006. In return, they contributed to Hood another 15,000 dollars a week after they received the contract (February 23).

After receiving $25,000 from partners with Bernstein, Litowitz, Berger & Grossman of New York on February 14, 16, & 17th, Jim Hood signed over to them 3 separate state contracts a week later on February 21 and March 14, 2006. The same firm then gave another series of contributions on April 16, 24, 25, & 26, which followed with another contract soon thereafter on May 17, 2006.

Jim Hood received contributions of $11,500 to his campaign from Schiffrin, Barroway, Topaz & Kessler of Pennsylvania in February 2006, which led to contingency fee contracts immediately following in March and April.

Likewise, Wolf Popper of New York contributed $15,000 to Jim Hood on February 22, 2006 and received a contingency fee contract just a few weeks later on March 23, 2006.

On September 19, 2005 Jim Hood signed Baron & Budd of Texas to a contingency fee state contract, which soon led to another $19,200 for Hood’s campaign on November 7 & 8.

Copies of the retention agreements from the above can be found at this Y’all Politics post.

The dialogue from the campaign is good to review as well.

Hopkins: “There is a pattern of behavior that creates an unhealthy perception of your attorney general’s office in the state of Mississippi. We don’t know if he’s selling state contracts for campaign contributions or just suffers bad judgment…In all he has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from attorneys who he has rewarded with these state contracts which I personally believe is illegal. The timing of most of those contributions would suggests that the connection is not simply a coincidence. They suggest that Jim Hood’s version of justice is pay to play.”

Hood: “It’s kind of like intellectual property. They’re bringing you an idea….Our system is first come first served.”

Hopkins: “If you look at the situation you see it’s first come first serve to those who contribute to Jim Hood.”

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