In an interview with Charlie Mitchell this week, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood responded to Entergy’s charge that his pursuit was ostensibly on behalf of well-moneyed plaintiffs lawyers that receive preferential contracts from his office.
“Please don’t let this be reduced to some thing about lawyers and fees,” he said, adding that none of the private attorneys or expert witnesses in the Entergy case have donated to him in any way, shape or form.
He said the contract with Mobile attorney Vincent Kilborn is a public record. The case, Hood said, will cost at least $2 million to pursue, which his office doesn’t have and the Legislature will not allocate.
Given the fact that it was a public record, yet no one had seemed to know anything about it, Jackson New Media, Inc. (that owns YallPolitics.com), made a request of Jan Schaefer in Hood’s office for the contract he referenced. Within two days, we received a response. Thanks goes to Jan for getting this done in short order.
Hood’s office has entered into a contract with attorneys Vince Kilborn and David McDonald of the law firm Kilborn, Roebuck and McDonald of Mobile, AL. Kilborn and Roebuck have been appointed as Special Assistant Attorneys General. This is the same arrangement that Joey Langston and Timothy Balducci were engaged in with Hood’s office before both pleading guilty to an unrelated federal judicial corruption scheme. The MCI case resulted in two of Hood’s largest campaign donors netting $14 million in a no-bid contract ultimately mediated by his predecessor and political mentor Mike Moore acting as “resolution counsel” for MCI. Hood has expressly declined to press charges on either of his now disgraced former Assistant Attorneys General or any of the other participants in the Dickie Scruggs-led scandal.
Here is the contract.
There are a few things that stand out on this.
First, the date. The investigation against Entergy allegedly started in July 2008. This contract was dated September 17, 2008. Hood and his cohort, Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley have been on a full court press against Entergy in the media. For several months this has been going on. All the while, the meter’s been running with these out of state plaintiff’s lawyers . . . and nobody knew. The other interesting part of the timing was that Hood filed his Motion to Dismiss from an Entergy counterclaim two days later.
Second, there are some interesting questions that the contract and the existence of it bring to light.
Were these lawyers working for him before that date? If so, are those expenses not included in the contract?
Did they bring the case to him (which is his argument against the contract bidding in the sunshine legislation) and if so, when?
Why are we only hearing about this involvement now?
And what did the Public Service Commissioners Brandon Presley, Lynn Posey and Leonard Bentz know about this contractual arrangement and when were they aware?
Next, the money. The contract calls for a sliding scale of between 25% of the first money for a settlement less than $25 million stairstepping by dollar volume all the way down to 4% of incremental fees over $100 million. Hood has claimed that there will be in excess of $2 million in costs associated with pursuing this claim. Ratepayers will also pay about the same amount for costs passed from Entergy as legitimate costs of funding their defense of the charges.
Finally, the secrecy. Hood has been quick to point out that Kilborn and McDonald have not contributed to his campaign. Will Kilborn and McDonald privately associate other lawyers that have? It’s a common practice and pursuant to the terms of the contract, it’s possible that we will never know. Hood also wants to “maintain responsibility for the public distribution of information concerning this matter. All press inquiries shall be referred to the Attorney General for comment and response.”
That nugget right there might just explain the whole thing.
We will continue to dig through and analyze these documents and questions and find other public records surrounding this. I hope the YP nation will hop in and help analyze this new info.