ATRA releases results of outside counsel survey

John O'Brien Sep. 23, 2010, 12:34pm

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The American Tort Reform Association has posted results from a questionnaire that asked if or how state attorney general candidates will use private attorneys.

The questionnaire was sent to 70 candidates in 29 states earlier this year. ATRA has been critical of state AGs who hire private lawyers who contribute to their campaign funds on a no-bid basis and fashioned its own code of conduct it wants to see AGs adopt.

"Abusive use of outside counsel by some state attorneys general is well-documented, as political supporters reap windfall rewards from no-bid state contracts with little or no public accountability or the checks-and-balances state governments should provide," ATRA president Tiger Joyce said.

ATRA's code of conduct values disclosure, oversight and accountability in the process of state attorneys general hiring private practice firms to represent their states.

The seven-question survey asks each candidate if he or she would accept campaign contributions from private attorneys who wish to represent the state.

Responses to five other questions ask what, if any, action the candidate would take in five areas.

Those areas are disclosure of all contracts on the Internet, competitive bidding for contracts, oversight by the state's legislature, reporting information concerning work performed by the attorneys and placing monies recovered in the state treasury.

The candidate is also asked if he or she would support legislation that codified the five principles.

Many candidates said they would support such legislation, while one incumbent -- Colorado's John Suthers -- also said he would.

Only two other incumbents responded to the survey. Maryland's Doug Gansler said he would not support such legislation, and Kansas' Steve Six said there is no need for it because state laws already in place have helped Kansas receive high marks from ATRA in previous studies.

The results can be found here.

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