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 refutes newspaper’s ‘pay-to-sue’ allegations
“That there was a contract that was given for a contribution is totally false,” King said. “That implication is really what concerned me more than anything… There’s no quid pro quo there.”
The newspaper at least implied pay-to-play on Thursday in an editorial I’ve already written about that accused King, other state’s attorneys general and a Houston law firm of being involved in a national “pay-to-sue” scheme. The newspaper alleges that Houston lawyer F. Kenneth Bailey has taken a “pre-packaged lawsuit” against a pharmaceutical company to a number of states and convinced their AGs to get involved by giving them big campaign contributions.
Bailey and his firm gave $50,000 to King, the editorial states.
King said New Mexico is represented by Bailey’s law firm in a multi-state lawsuit against Janssen Pharmaceuticals. The law firm was hired in 2006 following a competitive bidding process. King pointed out that he wasn’t the AG at the time. He took office at the start of 2007.
King did, on a no-bid contract, extend the agreement with the law firm last year, but he said that’s because it wouldn’t make sense to change attorneys in the middle of a lawsuit. The contract can be extended each year until the lawsuit is complete.
The newspaper alleged that “pay-to-sue” lawsuits can sometimes be baseless, but King said this lawsuit is strong. The company, New Mexico alleges, marketed to the state’s Medicaid program a drug it said would lower anxiety in people in nursing homes. But the company didn’t tell the state all it needed to know about the drug’s side effects. And the state was overcharged because it was falsely told that the drug was better for treating anxiety than other, cheaper alternatives, King said.
As for the campaign contributions, King, a Democrat, said his campaign treasurer hasn’t been available, so he’s still trying to determine if he took any money from Bailey or his law firm. He said any contributions would have been given in accordance with the law.
New Mexico had no campaign contribution limits when King last ran for office in 2006. The state recently approved a contribution-limit bill King pushed that will take effect after the 2010 election.
WSJ editorial ‘didn’t contain all of the facts’
King’s defense wasn’t included in the Wall Street Journal’s editorial, the AG said, because the newspaper never called him for comment.for office
Why? The business-friendly newspaper, King said, is being used as the latest assault by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and drug companies who are trying to stop “activist attorneys general” from taking on big business. In 2006, King said, the groups funneled $650,000 to his opponent through the Republican Leadership Council.
“My initial thought was that the article didn’t contain all of the facts,” King said about the newspaper editorial. “They tried to insinuate that something was wrong… and to me it just appears to be part of the ongoing battle where there are organizations trying to prevent attorneys general from pursuing consumer cases.”