I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
N.M. AG Gary King is criticized for ‘pay-to-sue’ scheme
In an editorial published on Thursday, the newspaper writes about a Houston lawyer, F. Kenneth Bailey, who “has been running a nationwide ‘pay-to-sue’ operation with Democratic state attorneys general.” The paper says Bailey and his law firm, Bailey Perrin Bailey, “have taken their pre-packaged lawsuit to many states,” including New Mexico.
Basically, Bailey and his law firm give big campaign contributions to attorneys general — or, in the case of Pennsylvania, the governor — and then win lucrative contracts to sue big corporations on behalf of the states.
The more states they get to join a lawsuit, the Journal reports, the more likely the defendant company will settle rather than fight a protracted battle, regardless of whether the allegations are solid.
King has received $50,000 in campaign contributions from Bailey and/or his law firm, according to the Journal. The lawyer and his firm have also given $75,000 to the AG in Mississippi, $20,000 to a political committee that campaigned for the AG in Louisiana, $60,000 to the Democratic Party in Arkansas and “repeated donations” to the Pennsylvania governor.
On top of that, Bailey gave $85,000 to the Democratic Attorneys General Association, which, according to the Journal, gave $63,000 to King and bigger sums to others, including $1.15 million to the Mississippi AG.
“We are supposed to believe that these donations had nothing to do with being retained by the states,” the editorial states.
King’s office has not responded to a request for comment sent Thursday afternoon.
In such schemes, the law firms, not the states, fund litigation costs. They sue for hundreds of millions of dollars or more, and they get a percentage of the settlement or award, the newspaper states. And getting a bunch of states on board increases the likelihood of getting paid. So it’s a win-win for the lawyers and the AGs, “albeit at the expense of a private business that may have done nothing wrong,” according to the editorial.
“The biggest losers here are the cause of justice and the principle of prosecutorial neutrality. When outside lawyers are hired to do the government’s business, and then given a financial stake in the outcome, it creates irreconcilable conflicts of interest,” the editorial states. “The state delegates key decisions — about whether and whom to sue, what legal theory to pursue, whether to settle and what remedy to propose — to private lawyers motivated by profit rather than the public interest.”
“Meanwhile, the pay-to-sue nature of the transaction means that politicians have an incentive to promote frivolous litigation that makes it even harder for American business to prosper and create jobs,” the Journal aruges.