Generally speaking, there are two kinds of state attorneys general—one focuses his office on rooting out public corruption and defending the state constitution against threats of intrusion from the federal government. The other sees himself as the Plaintiff Attorney-In-Chief and focuses his efforts on civil ligation in the belief that serving as a consumer advocate best fulfills the role of that position.
It appears Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell fits in the latter category, following in the footsteps of a long line of predecessors including Richard Ieyoub and Charles Foti. The question is, who’s benefiting from the AG’s activities—the citizens? Or the lawyers?
A new investigation into the AG’s office reveals a gravy train of contracts for politically connected trial lawyers who are carrying out the state’s legal business. The details of that investigation will show that Caldwell’s practice of hiring outside counsel in highly-lucrative and legally suspect deals is costing us a fortune.
Consider the state’s case against BP. While Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange has opted to let lawyers on his staff take on the work, AG Caldwell has paid over $15 million and counting to outside law firms—with much of that money going to his political supporters.
Some would argue that those expenditures are necessary to ensure that the state’s claims are being actively and aggressively pursued in court. But are they? A close reading of the BP trial transcript found the AG’s highly-paid, lead hired gun in this historic case was recently caught sleeping on the job—literally.
This post originally appeared on The Hayride at thehayride.com.