Wednesday, February 21, 2018

AG recovers $32 million

Attorney General Jim Hood issued the following statement.

AG Sends $32 Million to the Legislature, Urges Mississippians to Tell Legislature: #LeaveOurAGAlone

Call your legislator—Capitol Switchboard: 601-359-3770

JACKSON—Attorney General Jim Hood announced the fourth settlement of the civil suits in the MDOC-Christopher Epps prison bribery scandal and deposited $32.1 million into the state’s general fund Tuesday, in the midst of the Legislature attempting to strip his Constitutional authority to go after corporate wrongdoers. General Hood is calling on Mississippians to contact their lawmakers and say, “Leave our AG alone!”

A portion of the check includes another settlement in the Epps case for $750,000 from CGL Facility Management, LLC, which is a company that provides facility management, project management, and corrective and preventative maintenance services to correctional facilities. The CGL settlement is the fourth of 11 civil actions to be settled in the Epps bribery scandal, and Tuesday’s deposit included $3.9 million from those cases.

The largest portion of the check delivered Tuesday is $25.3 million from a recently announced settlement with Watson Pharmaceutical, which sold overpriced drugs to the state’s Medicaid program, costing taxpayers $7 million.

The money sent to the general fund covers 21 cases (attached) settled by the attorney general with the majority of those cases involving violations under the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act (MCPA). That act is what protects Mississippians from being taken advantage of by corporations who have lied to customers, inflated their prices, and allowed safety measures to go unenforced, among other things. A number of bills currently pending in the state Legislature would remove the power of the attorney general to take these wrongdoers to court, thus resulting in not only losing billions of dollars to the state but, more importantly, fewer protections for Mississippians.

“This isn’t kids’ games, and should not be dismissed as just partisan politics,” said General Hood. “This is a billion dollars of the people’s money. The legislators driving these bills are attempting to give taxpayer money to corporations. We don’t want to believe it, but you can see corporations writing our laws. This should shock the conscience of republicans and democrats alike. With a billion dollars on the line, no reasonable prosecutor would dismiss the possibility of bribes, kickbacks, and campaign contributions being offered.”

House Bills 1238 and 1177 and Senate Bill 2295 each attack the attorney general’s authority by attempting to weaken or remove the office’s prosecutorial authority, in various ways, by uprooting his ability to fight for Mississippians under the MCPA and without getting prior approval from other agencies. The following is a short description of what each bill would do and non-exhaustive examples of how previously settled or pending litigation would be affected if these laws were in place:

· HB 1238
o Allows entities regulated by state and federal agencies to claim they do not have to abide by the MCPA due to outside regulations

§ Litigation affected: opioid manufacturers, which are being investigated for allegedly misrepresenting drug benefits; pharmaceutical companies who overprice drugs (Watson); Volkswagen, for selling vehicles that circumvent federal and state emission standards; Equifax, Experian, and Transunion, which was an investigation into credit reporting agencies regarding misrepresentation of credit monitoring services, credit reports, and credit scores that lead to a settlement

· SB 2295
o Requires approval by the Public Service Commission for the AG to bring suit against utility companies
§ Litigation affected: pending Entergy case, where the utility company faces a $1.1 billion lawsuit for overcharging its customers by not purchasing the cheapest power to sell to consumers

· HB 1177
o Allows state agencies and private citizens to file suit and collect damages owed to the state
§ Litigation affected: Watson Pharmaceutical; if bill becomes law, Division of Medicaid—not the AG—would investigate and file suit.

Many state agencies do not generally have resources needed to investigate and prosecute and could use different theories, that’s why the AG is tasked with representing the state

“If people are going to take action about something happening at the capitol, now is the time,” said General Hood. “These bills directly impact every Mississippian, and if they are signed into law, it would be devastating to everyone, including the people who are pushing this legislation. I was elected, just as other attorneys general before and after me, to protect you. I’m urging everyone to call their legislator to tell them to leave the AG’s office alone so that we can do our job protecting Mississippians as we have done long before I took office, and long after I leave.”

The number to the Capitol Switchboard is 601-359-3770, and constituents who wish to share the message on social media are asked to use #LeaveOurAGAlone


Anonymous said...

This is frightening to know they want to get away with this. That said, Ol Hood has been on a roll here lately. I wonder if he has stepped on some toes on his quest for repayment. I wonder who is behind and sponsoring these bills?

Anonymous said...

In the meantime, Chris Epps is sittin in the pokey and getting his PERS retirement check every month and twice in December. What’s the esteemed legislature on that?

Anonymous said...

KF - your headline is worse than those that the CL is prone to do; and they at least blame the headline writers who are different than the reporters, which is not true with you.

The $32 Million is from 21 different lawsuits, mostly dealing with consumer protection cases, and mostly dealing with nationwide cases that his office 'joined in'. Less than $1 Million is from Epps case. And I get that information from the reading of the first couple of sentences of Hood's campaign -- er, ah, press release.

Now that this is out of the way, wonder how long the AG has been sitting on these settlement dollars in order to cobble enough together to make the total look somewhat impressive for this announcement. Seems like he is back up to his old processes of holding onto settlement checks until it suits his political instincts to send them over to the legislature.

Anonymous said...

So, 1:10, would you like to swap places with Epps?

Anonymous said...

Get over yourself 1:25.

The headline is not misleading at all. He recovered $32 million relating to the Epps crap. $32 million is $32 million. Who cares that it didn't come from one pocket. Did you think it was as easy as getting Epps to write a check for $32 million or for whatever he stole? You go after those who actually benefitted from ill-gotten gains. It doesn't happen in one fatal swoop. Even if he used it for his own political purposes, it doesn't change the fact that it was recovered.

I wonder were you singing the same tune when Tater Tot announced the billion dollar road program yesterday? Nothing at all "political" about that. Seems that the Governor or a commissioner may have taken some pride in such an objectively great announcement, but no... "let's let the Lt. Gov do it."

C'mon! Politics is politics. You just don't like Hood's politics. Say that and be done.

Anonymous said...

This Republican can't wait to vote for Jim Hood.....Governor.

1:25 here said...

1:58 - Simple reading: From the press release:

"The largest portion of the check delivered Tuesday is $25.3 million from a recently announced settlement with Watson Pharmaceutical, which sold overpriced drugs to the state’s Medicaid program, costing taxpayers $7 million."

If $25.3 Million - plus - of a $32 million deposit had no relation to the Epps scandal, and $3 million of the $32 million was related to the Epps scandal, then the headline is off. There was not a $32 million recovered from the Epps mess. Sorry

Anonymous said...

Ditto, 2:09.

Anonymous said...

@ 2:09
I don't care if your a Republican or a Democrat... your a total moron. I think hood would be better than the current cracker Jack we have now of course that isn't saying much.

Anonymous said...

“Your a total moron”. Priceless

Anonymous said...

@ 4:21
That is hilarious!

"Whose" the moron?

I’ll bake a fingernail file cake said...

Has Dr Reddix gone to jail yet ?

1:25 responding said...

What's the matter KF? Don't like the disagreement over your headline writing, so you scuttle the opposition comments?

1:58 - Yes, there is a big damn difference. According to the press release posted, $25 million of the $32 million was from a Medicaid drug settlement. $3 million of the $32 million was related to the Epps deal. From the release:

"The largest portion of the check delivered Tuesday is $25.3 million from a recently announced settlement with Watson Pharmaceutical, which sold overpriced drugs to the state’s Medicaid program, costing taxpayers $7 million."

The reason it matters whether these funds were accumulated by Hood and made in one big deposit (thereby allowing for his press release and lobbying effort) is because the legislature has passed a statute - you know, those things that the AG is supposed to make sure are being enforced - requiring him to deposit these funds upon receipt. He used to hold them in his 'own account' and attempt to spend them as he saw fit, just as he tried to do with his self-annointed successor, Treasurer Fitch, last month.

To say in a headline that $32 million from the Epps scandal was recovered when in fact it was $3 million is in fact a very misleading and inappropriate headline.

Anonymous said...

@1:25, Hey Parks, embrace it, Hoods on a roll!

Anonymous said...

Eat shit kingfish

Anonymous said...

The irony is that the primary author of the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act Of 1994 was a Republican.

Anonymous said...

Rep. Baker is living rent free in Hoods head. How much of the settlement went to Hood’s buddies?

Good try Conway Twitty.

Anonymous said...

This is good news but those who want Tate for governor seem to have to either nitpick it or deflect the credit to the legislature.

I want KF to look at all candidates' financial filings the first time they filed and the last time. I want to know if their lifestyles and accumulated wealth can be explained by their incomes as public servants.

Unless our politicians are marrying wealthy women or have a trust fund, I'm finding it rather hard to explain given their job earnings. Frankly, it's impossible to understand how some become multi-millionaires given their lifestyle. Where did they get the money to invest?

Anonymous said...

I want KF to look at all candidates' financial filings the first time they filed and the last time.

Nothing stopping you from doing it yourself.

Anonymous said...

Whoever wrote the press release needs to read HB 1177. It doesn't take any "power" away from the AG. In fact, although any state agency can initially file and investigate a False Claims Act case, the bill also plainly provides that any agency can "defer to the Attorney General" for those purposes. And, HB 1177 provides for the recovery of treble damages -- that's three times the loss to the State of Mississippi. Unless I'm missing something, the Consumer Protection Act provides for civil penalties of $10,000 per violation, a paltry amount by comparison. Moreover, the AG already has authority to recover treble damages under the Medicaid fraud statute, and HB 1177 does not revoke that authority.

Anonymous said...

Mike moores best bud has actually been doing his job over the last year or two, cause he gunna run for mssipi gummer. That's "Mississippi governor" for people not from here.

Anonymous said...

Another Republican here who plans to vote for Jim Hood for governor.

Anonymous said...

Jim Hood is a straight up Oxford POS. He has looked the other way on huge in house corrupt activities, and to our knowledge doesn't (at least publicly) work with Pickering in uncovering the taxpayer money being wasted because HE's one of the Oxford good ole' boys (as apparently Pickering is as well) who just doesn't wear the white sheet anymore. So Hood goes after corporations, and wants a pat on the back for doing the job he was elected to do? Sheesh, worthless and WEAK. Please don't think he could actually LEAD the state out of its darkness. He's a prime example of what's corrupt about Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

Good thing Hood put a stop to those outrageous online wine clubs. He's as brave a public servant as they come. Not the least bit corrupt, nor indeed a grandstander... Just a honest, straight shootin' right as rain kind of guy. Makin' Mississippi a great place to live.

Anonymous said...

It's very clear that 99% here have no idea what the AG's office can do by the current state law. It would not hurt to review it before blabbering on. Truth is, if the AG was a Republican these arguments would not be being made.

Anonymous said...

The big corporations have an infinite number of lawyers and millions to spend on them. Mississippi citizens have one lawyer they elect in to protect them, the Attorney General. Whether you are a republican, democrat or independent, you should not let anyone take away your lawyer. The common citizen does not stand a chance against an army of lawyers paid by greedy utility monopolies or crooked corporations. Any craven politician who is trying to handcuff your lawyer needs to be sent home. Where are the voices for accountability in the legislature? They should be howling bloody murder over this political obstruction of holding corporations accountable to those they harm and/or kill?

Anonymous said...

8:24 I have looked but I don't have a platform. KF does.

It is impossible for an elected official ( particularly one with a wife and children to support) who didn't already accumulate wealth, inherit wealth or marry wealth to become a multi-millionaire if their work is serving the people.

I even know how these politicians do it. Debts are forgiven. The cost of getting in the door to speak by having given a donation increases as their power increases. Insider investment opportunities are given. They are given the opportunity to buy in immediately at less that later investors. They get paid to speak as their power grows where a new candidate ( like all politicians once did) wants access to voters and will speak for free. At the higher levels, they can write a book and it's bought before being actually written so as to guarantee it's a best seller.

But, as long as the average voter doesn't have the time or have access to high enough levels of society to know how things are done, our National interest is for sale to the highest bidder.

Of course, when it comes to criminals or nations who are not our friends, money laundering and threats to loved ones or blackmail works.

Freedom isn't lost in grand public debates, it's stolen in countless small ways .. even unnoticed sentences changing laws until the cumulative effects is grand enough for all debate to be silenced.

The bad guys depend on the fact that in a democracy, the voters will be too busy or intellectually lazy to notice until it's too late. They've studied history and human behavior.

What's happening in our country is not new. Technology is simply escalating the success of old tactics.

Anonymous said...

Still not sure why the AG's office is not on the same pay scale as the District Attorney's office

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