As I See It
Political power play has Wisconsin potentially losing out on millions in legal settlements
It is becoming increasingly clear why it was a bad idea for Wisconsin lawmakers to restrict the power of the state’s Attorney General. After the election, but before Tony Evers was sworn in as Governor and Josh Kaul was sworn in as Attorney General, the Republican controlled legislature passed new laws restricting the power of both public officials. One of those laws requires the Attorney General to get the permission of state lawmakers before settling any lawsuits. This was a clear power play, but it makes no sense. It has always been the job of the Attorney General to file litigation on behalf of Wisconsin taxpayers. He is the trained expert. But now that the A.G. has to go crawling to lawmakers in order to settle any lawsuits involving the state, nothing is getting settled. Kaul and lawmakers have been trying to figure out the specifics of the new law, and as a result more than a dozen legal cases are languishing. And the clock is ticking. For example, OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma is considering offering a sweeping settlement with a number of states, including Wisconsin, that could be worth up to $12 billion, in suits alleging deceptive marketing practices. If lawmakers don’t hurry up and give their approval to a settlement, Wisconsin could lose out on its share. That’s why it was a bad idea for lawmakers to ever get involved in these complex legal issues. That should be left to the professionals, or else Wisconsin could end up losing millions of dollars to which it is legally entitled.