Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pruitt's Manager Defends Poultry Donations, Says He Has 'An open mind' About Lawsuit

Scott Pruitt's campaign manager says his candidate has "an open mind" about the state's poultry industry lawsuit, but did not directly address his acceptance of $26,000 in donations from poultry industry interests.

Tyler Laughlin, responding to a request for comment from Pruitt from The McCarville Report Online about the donations to Pruitt's campaign for the Republican nomination for attorney general, said, "Scott will evaluate the lawsuit at the appropriate time. Recent decisions by the presiding judge have put certain claims in question, and in fact, are on appeal. It is very difficult to ascertain today what the lawsuit will look like in 2011. The prudent response is to assess the status of the litigation based on the facts existing at the time the next AG takes office.

"As you may know Scott's opponent has stated that he will continue the poultry lawsuit while Scott has said he will take a close look at it with an open mind. I think it is fair to say that agriculture businesses believe they will have a fair hearing with Scott while his opponent's mind is already made up. And as you may know Leonard has taken numerous contributions from members of the law firm that stands to make a great deal of money if the lawsuit continues.

"The bigger issue is how the attorney general chooses outside counsel. By not going through an open, transparent, competitive process, it creates a perception that lawsuits filed by the attorney general are more about rewarding attorneys and not about enforcing current law in the courts. And this perception is heightened with the realization that some firms can, and have, made tens of millions of dollars on just one case. That's why, as state senator, Scott introduced legislation to require sunshine and accountability in the selection of outside counsel, and why as Attorney General he will require the retention of outside counsel to go through an open and competitive process to insure the sanctity and integrity of litigation, giving Oklahomans confidence that we are fighting to protect our state's interest versus regulating through litigation."

Pruitt's opponent, Ryan Leonard, told TMRO that he, too, was offered donations from those in the poultry industry but refused them; he said he did not believe it is appropriate given that the donors are named in the state's lawsuit.

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