Bill targets Kentucky AG legal winnings

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by Claudia Coffey

WHAS11.com

Posted on March 19, 2014 at 5:59 PM

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- A bill that just cleared the State Senate is taking aim at how and where the attorney general disperses settlement money.

House Bill 223 would move the money that Attorney General Jack Conway wins in settlement to the State General Fund for lawmakers to make the call. Conway says it’s unconstitutional and would violate confidentiality.

"I think it would be very hard to reach a settlement, bring the legislature into the process. There are separation of powers problems with the bill. So I have serious concerns about that," Jack Conway said.

State Senator Robin Webb, the bill's primary sponsor, says this is already state law and this bill would clarify that.

“The legislative intent was for public accountability, transparency and reiterates by statute that the power to appropriate funds for public purposes is solely within the purview of the legislative branch of government and was an action to insure that settlements are handled pursuant to law."

Right now, -when an attorney general negotiates a settlement, that money is dispersed according to a court ordered settlement.

The settlement in question is from January when the Attorney General's office won $32 million in two settlements from pharmaceutical companies.  Conway announced, in a move approved the court, that it would be used to fund drug treatment programs.

"I will gladly involve legislative leadership when significant recoveries are made. I did that on the last settlement with the pharmaceutical companies. The court ordered us to direct it to treatment. I wasn't going to ignore a court order," Conway said.
 

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