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MCJ – AG’s office needs...

MCJ – AG’s office needs sunshine

By: Magnolia Tribune - February 5, 2009

AG Jim Hood’s office needs sunshine

In his vicious, unrelenting pursuit of Entergy, Attorney General Jim Hood said, “If they have nothing to hide, why not put their records on the table.” He argues that if Entergy has nothing to hide, it should be eager to share with him any documents he requests.

Well, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Has Hood contracted with outside attorneys to prosecute cases?

If so, what are the arrangements, fees, or contingency awards?

How many cases is the Attorney General currently prosecuting that could financially benefit lawyers he has under contract?

Hood should have to answer these questions because he heads a state agency.

Sen. Joey Fillingane (R-Sumrall) originally introduced Senate Bill 2718 to require the Attorney General to put his records on the table and require openness and increased accountability in the Office of Attorney General.

But, Hood’s people killed that bill in committee. As of Wednesday morning, Fillingane’s language was still alive, however, because of a committee substitute.

Fillingane’s language requires the Attorney General to place all his civil cases on a public docket and to report the name of any retained or contracted outside counsel.

The measure requires the contracted attorney or firm to keep daily time and expense records. The Secretary of State would review and make public the contract. And, if the fee is reasonably expected to exceed $500,000, then that contract would be bid out to at least three attorneys or firms.

This government reform measure would cap contingency fee awards at $1.75 million.

Government should not be a get-rich-quick scheme. If attorneys choose to wield the power of the state to prosecute, their motivation should be public service, not personal gain.

For his part in a judicial bribery scheme that included major contributors to Hood’s campaign like Dickie Scruggs and Joey Langston, Timothy Balducci will be sentenced next week.

Langston contributed more than $100,000 to Hood.

Hood ‘deputized’ Langston and Balducci as Special Assistant Attorneys General to go after MCI/WorldCom.

They walked away with $14 million.

Madison County Journal

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Magnolia Tribune

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