While it does seem laughable coming from the party that has bent over backwards for Rex Sinquefield and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, the Missouri GOP is accusing Gov. Jay Nixon of running a pay-for-play operation with trial lawyers. The news release is printed below:
In a brazen example of pay-to-play, Jay Nixon and Chris Koster have accepted more than half-a-million dollars in campaign contributions from trial attorneys who are seeking state contracts. It is just the latest example of the “for sale” sign that Jay Nixon has placed on lucrative state business.
According to the St Louis Post-Dispatch, Koster’s office has decided that it is not competent enough to handle a lawsuit against a drug manufacturer. Instead, he is outsourcing the legal work to an as-of-yet undermined law firm who will be selected by the Nixon Administration.
This has proven to be an incredibly profitable arrangement for both Nixon and Koster, who during the first 10 months of 2011 have accepted $567,000 in campaign contributions from the trial lawyers seeking this contract.
And it’s no wonder that these law firms are “investing” so heavily in Nixon and Koster—the winner of the contract could receive as much as $100 million in legal fees if the state wins the case.
“Most elected officials try to avoid even the appearance of impropriety—but not Jay Nixon or Chris Koster. Instead, Nixon and Koster are accepting obscene amounts of money from law firms that are seeking a contract that could be worth $100 million. If that’s not pay-to-play, I don’t know what is,” said Lloyd Smith, Executive Director of the Missouri Republican Party. “The bottom line is that Jay Nixon has something golden, and he’s not going to give it away for nothing.”
Pay-to-play allegations have dogged Jay Nixon throughout his career:
* Over the past several years, he has been hit repeatedly by the media and even his fellow Democrats for rewarding wealthy donors and political insiders with the state’s most lucrative fee offices. In fact, former Representative and Democrat Ray Salva claimed “It’s all politics… Don’t let anybody fool you.”
* Nixon has repeatedly rewarded campaign contributors with plum government positions. This has included Nixon’s multiple attempts to appoint prolific Democratic fundraiser John Temporiti to various state boards, as well as his appointment of Jeff Mazur as “senior advisor” in the Office of Administration, Don Downing as a University of Missouri curator, Lloyd Carmichael to the Highways and Transportation Commission, and Tom Strong to the Coordinating Board for Higher Education, among others.
* In the late 1990s, then-Attorney General Nixon came under fire for outsourcing tobacco litigation to trial lawyer donors, including Tom Strong, who raked in more than $111 million in fees after just 5 months of work.
* While he was Attorney General, Nixon was repeatedly criticized for accepting campaign contributions from entities that he was facing in court—from the tobacco industry, to Blue Cross, to his former advisor Chuck Hatfield, and more.