Archive for February 2012

Hood doesn’t want to lose his power for cronyism – Part 3

February 9, 2012

“If this bill passes, then agency heads with agendas and interests of their own will be allowed to pursue those interests on the taxpayers’ dime over the states interest as a whole with no oversight.” – Attorney General Jim Hood on Sunshine legislation

Imgaine someone giving million dollar no-bid contracts, without oversight, to campaign contributors. Imagine those campaign contributors working for their own interests rather than the interest of the state.  Will Sunshine legislation cause this? No, it is there to prevent it.

From the Wall Street Journal: Pay to Play Torts

However, attorneys suing on the government’s behalf are supposed to be neutral actors whose goal is justice, not lining their own pockets. When for-profit lawyers are involved with a contingency fee at the end of the lawsuit rainbow, the incentives shift toward settling to get a big payday.
In Mississippi, the state attorney general determines when the public employees retirement fund should bring a securities class action and which outside firms will represent the fund. Would you be shocked to learn that AG Jim Hood has frequently chosen law firms that have donated to his campaigns?

Mr. Hood is also partial to Bernstein Litowitz. On February 21, 2006, he chose the firm to represent the Mississippi Public Employees Retirement Fund in a securities class action against Delphi Corporation—just days after receiving $25,000 in donations from Bernstein Litowitz attorneys. The suit was eventually settled, and the lawyers on the case received $40.5 million in fees. Mr. Hood’s campaign would appear to deserve a raise.

You can see a picture of Attorney General Jim Hood shaking hands with Bernstein Litowitz Senior Founding Partner Max Berger, who in addition to other members of the firm, contributed $5000 to Hood’s campaign here.

Bernstein Litowitz partner Sean Coffey also contributed $5000 to Hood’s campaign and interviewed Hood at the a pension and investing summit conference in Dublin, Ireland.

Hood also spoke to the Bernstein Litowitz “Instiutional Investor Forum” at the “New York Yacht Club, in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.”

Is this the kind of cronyism Jim Hood is talking about?

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Hood doesn’t want to lose his power for cronyism – Part 2

February 8, 2012

“The Attorney General is put in place to defend the state’s interests and to provide a unified voice to the state on all legal matters.” – Attorney General Jim Hood on new Sunshine legislation

Except when it comes to cronyism, when Attorney General Jim Hood decides to defend a huge campaign contributor instead of the interests of the state. Here is a flashback to 2009 from Respond Mississippi.

Mississippi is/was suing former special assistant attorney general Joey Langston for $14 million in attorney fees he unconstitutionally received from a no-bid contract with his boss/friend Attorney General Jim Hood. Yesterday morning, Jim Hood won his motion to move the State of Mississippi from being a plaintiff to being a defendant.

Kidd ruled in favor of Hood’s motion to remove the state of Mississippi as a plaintiff in the case and place it as a defendant.In other words, Jim Hood picked a side. He chose to argue that Joey Cash Langston should get the $14 million instead of Mississippi taxpayers. That’s right, he is now arguing AGAINST the people of Mississippi and for Joey Langston, who just happens to be his largest campaign contributor ($100,000+). Sure, Joey Langston needs the money to pay his lawyers in the ongoing Scruggs related scandals. But that $14 million would also get us about half way towards plugging the car tag fee fund without raising taxes.

When it came down to make a choice between the taxpayers of Mississippi, or his largest campaign contributor, Jim Hood chose Cash (Joey Cash Langston, that is).

Remember that Langston is one of the guys who went to jail in the Scruggs scandals that Hood said he could not prosecute because they were like family. Hood could not prosecute Langston, but he could defend his $14 million no-bid fee.

Hood doesn’t want to lose his power for cronyism – Part 1

February 8, 2012

“What you have here is nothing more than an attempt to weaken the power of the Attorney General and to create a ‘good ole boy’ system of doing legal business in this state…This bill creates a system ripe for cronyism….” – Attorney General Jim Hood on new Sunshine legislation

Funny that Jim Hood thinks his system of hiring campaign contributors as special attorneys general is not a ‘good ole boy’ system and not cronyism.

From the report: Beyond Reproach? Fostering Integrity and Public Trust in the Offices of State Attorneys General

Mississippi has a long and troubling history of unseemly relationships between the office of the attorney general and plaintiffs’ attorneys. Attorney General Jim Hood was elected in 2003 and has funneled substantial work to his plaintiff lawyer campaign contributors ever since. His tenure as attorney general represents one of the most egregious examples of the impropriety that can be found in the process of states hiring private attorneys.

• Over a five year period following his election in 2003, Attorney General Hood retained at least 27 outside law firms to file at least 20 lawsuits on behalf of the State of Mississippi. These law firms and their attorneys contributed $543,000 to Hood’s campaigns.

• Since 2005 Attorney General Hood has received $149,056 in campaign contributions from Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann, and the State of Mississippi has contracted with this firm on five lawsuits. Between February 14 – 17 of 2006, Bernstein Litowitz attorneys contributed $25,000 to Hood’s campaign, and on February 21, 2006, Hood selected the firm to represent the Mississippi Public Employees Retirement Fund in a securities class action claim against Delphi Corp. The lawsuit settled for $333.4 million, paying $40.5 million in legal fees.

• The firm Wolf Popper contributed $15,000 to Hood’s campaign on February 22, 2006, and the state of Mississippi contracted with this firm on a lawsuit against Sonus on March 23, 2006. Sonus settled for $9.5 million, including legal fees estimated at $1.5 million.