Texas Seeks Sanctions Against Gov. Bush Over Tobacco Deal
DALLAS (AllPolitics, May 26) -- Gov. George W. Bush and seven state legislators will be subject to $25 million in fines if the Texas attorney general gets his way.
Attorney General Dan Morales, a Democrat, and five lawyers who
represented Texas in tobacco litigation filed a motion in U.S. District Court on Tuesday asking for the sanctions against Bush and the lawmakers for "acting in bad faith" in their efforts to block payment of attorney fees in the tobacco settlement.
Bush is being named as a private citizen in the case.
"There comes a time when enough is enough," Morales said. "The arguments put forth by Gov. Bush and the seven legislators are two years too late and frivilous."
Bush issued a statement calling the motion "absurd" and suggesting it was politically motivated.
"This appears to be political grandstanding on the part of the attorney
general, who must be embarrassed that the state of Minnesota made a better deal where the tobacco companies, not the taxpayers, are paying the attorneys' fee," Bush said.
The motion alleges Bush personally intervened in the settlement when he had no authority to do so and has held up the agreed-on payment for lawyers representing the state.
On Jan. 22, a federal judge approved the $15.3 billion settlement against the tobacco industry. The attorneys were to receive 15 percent of the settlement -- as much as $2.3 billion -- for their fees.
Bush, a Republican who is seen as a possible candidate for
president in 2000, contends the fees are excessive.
High attorney fees have been an issue in other settlements against the
tobacco industry, most notably Florida, but no state had attorney fees as high as Texas.
Michael Tigar, known for his work as the attorney for Terry Nichols in the Oklahoma City bombing case, is representing the state of Texas and its attorneys.