The National Attorneys General Organization (NAAG)’s financing sources were recently questioned.
The group gets money from lawsuit settlements and dues from state attorney generals, which raises questions about its nonprofit status.
A Business Scheme
This study from the American Tort Reform Association highlights these links and calls for more openness from the group.
Historically, NAAG influenced multistate inquiries and litigation. Instead of fostering efficiency and cooperation, NAAG now promotes entrepreneurial lawsuits against industries of all kinds.
Outside influence creates a concerning lack of accountability in state attorney general offices, writes Sherman "Tiger" Joyce.
"This troubling trend should be of concern to not only businesses and industries…but all who care about good governance."https://t.co/rFSyperrco
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) April 14, 2022
NAAG has been involved in some of the most notable mass tort actions for decades. It targeted cigarette companies and, most recently, opioid producers and distributors.
NAAG, like individual states and associated for-profit, contingency-fee lawyers, fully participates in multistate litigation settlements.
Unlike the trial bar, an independent group now seems to be making money when it helps people start and end lawsuits.
It’s vital to note the NAAG’s litigation machine recently targeted opioid makers and distributors, highlighting their participation in the opioid epidemic.
Republican Ashley Moody of Florida and Democrats Bob Ferguson of Washington, and Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia, are among the NAAG members pursuing opioid litigation. Notably, Moody is a NAAG leader.
The decision to pursue litigation, rather than deal with the root of the problem stemming from the illicit drug crisis at our nation’s border (fueling the opioid epidemic and devastating their states) raises questions.
Morrisey and Ferguson also chose to go to trial, rather than settle with practically every state and manufacturer. If the trial bar and the outside counsel used by these attorney generals influence decisions, then the answer is yes.
Aside from attending NAAG meetings, personal injury attorneys often teach attorney generals proper litigation procedures. Apparent codependency between the prosecution bar and these elected politicians has emerged.
In these training sessions, it is clear how important NAAG is to state attorneys general when they decide which businesses to pursue.
"My office filed a lawsuit against the National Rifle Association to dissolve the organization in its entirety," New York Attorney General Letitia James says at a news conference. https://t.co/daesiAYEeY pic.twitter.com/GYTyJ6k5I0
— ABC News (@ABC) August 6, 2020
A Call For More Scrutiny
It’s nothing new for outside groups to pay for activist lawyers to work in state attorney generals’ departments and other government agencies.
However, it should be investigated more closely. To file climate and environmental change cases, attorneys from Michael Bloomberg’s charity organization were embedded in attorney generals’ offices in 2020, a process that continues today.
Now, NAAG is promoting coordinated mass malpractice litigation.
NAAG members work on multistate cases in working groups. Their operations include monthly phone conversations to discuss investigations and information-sharing deals.
The NAAG allows “lead” states to recruit additional states for specific lawsuits. Finally, NAAG gives funding to states to assist with litigation.
So they don’t have to spend allocated funds, making them responsible to their governments.
The absence of accountability and openness in state attorney general’s offices is alarming. This worrying trend should worry not only corporations and sectors that may be sued, but also everybody who values good governance practices.