N.Y. AG-hopeful has history of donations, state work

Coffey left his job as a securities litigator at Bernstein, Litowitz, Berger & Grossmann in December to run for office. He has donated nearly $20,000 to New York Comptrollers Carl McCall and Alan Hevesi.

The office, according to The Wall Street Journal on Monday, hired his firm to represent the state’s pension fund in three major cases — splitting a total of more than $400 million in fees with another firm.

Records also show that in 2006 Coffey and four other attorneys at his firm donated a total of $25,000 to Jim Hood, Mississippi’s current attorney general.

Of the total, Coffey gave $5,000. Just a week later, Hood hired the firm to represent the state’s Public Employees Retirement System in a securities class action against Delphi Corp., according to the Journal.

The suit was settled in 2007, with the lawyers in the case pocketing $40.5 million in fees.

The firm, the Journal noted, has represented Mississippi’s pension fund in several other cases and has contributed more than $70,000 to Hood since 2006.

In a statement, Hood said the hiring of outside counsel in securities cases has “zero relation to campaign contributions.”

The attorney general said a dozen firms are on the state’s approved list of counsels. “The first of these firms to e-mail or contact our office about a case gets to handle the case,” he said in his statement.

Legal Newsline
8/9/10