Time for GOP's Attorney-General Laundry Operation
To Stop Spinning & Come Clean
|For Immediate Release:|
For More Information Contact:
|July 21, 2001|
Craig McDonald, 512-472-9770
Austin, TX: Since they formed the Republican Attorney General Association (RAGA) in 1999, the top lawyers of several states have acted as if they were awaiting judicial confirmation of the fact that they must publicly disclose RAGA's political contributions and expenditures--as most other political committees routinely do.
"RAGA's failure to come clean on its funds lends poetic justice to the self-inflicted plight of RAGA founder Bill Pryor," said Texans for Public Justice Director Craig McDonald. "Now RAGA's stealth finances have delayed Pryor's own judicial confirmation proceedings. It is past time for RAGA to disclose four years' worth of its contributions and expenditures. Senator Cornyn and Bill Pryor need to open RAGA's books. Contempt for the public's right to know is not a qualification for the federal bench."
The explicit mission of RAGA's founders (including ex-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn who now champions Pryor on the Senate Judiciary Committee) is to raise money to elect conservative Republican attorneys general who will resist using their offices to file industry-wide lawsuits like the one against the tobacco industry. Critics, including Texans for Public Justice, have long complained that RAGA resembles a lawsuit-protection racket because its members appear to solicit the very business interests that most fear state litigation, including Microsoft, HMOs and the gun and lead-paint industries.
Although it has been known that Microsoft and the National Rifle Association supported RAGA, it has been impossible to settle these troubling solicitation concerns because RAGA has refused to disclose its political finances. Instead, it launders its money through the much larger Republican National State Election Committee, making it impossible to see what political funds RAGA raises from whom. Newly disclosed internal RAGA documents reveal that RAGA's attorneys general did indeed solicit RAGA contributions directly from businesses facing state lawsuits. To clear up what appears to be a serious conflict of interest, Pryor and Cornyn must fully disclose the political finances over the past four years of the group that they founded. The confirmation proceedings of RAGA's founder should be postponed as long as it takes for RAGA to open its books.