Governor’s Veto Doesn’t Make Sense for Taxpayers04/01/2015 | News |
SB1059, a government transparency bill I carried during the 2015 General Assembly session, was one of seventeen bills vetoed by Governor McAuliffe earlier this week. The legislation would have enhanced transparency for the procurement of outside counsel through the Office of the Governor or the Attorney General. It also limits contingency fees paid by the Commonwealth, and, as the article below points out, those fees can be very costly for Virginia's taxpayers.
Contingency fees are perfectly acceptable as a fee structure for clients who may not have access to the court system through other means. If a client can't afford to pay legal fees up front, they can agree to pay a fee if a favorable result is reached in court. The Commonwealth of Virginia is not one of those clients.
Gulf Coast trial lawyers use contingency fees to go on Elliot Spitzer-style corporate witch hunts, significantly padding their already deep pockets in the process. This bill simply says if contingency fees are needed, the Attorney General must explain why it's in the best interest of the Commonwealth and its taxpayers, while also setting a cap on contingency fees at $50 million--hardly an amount that will limit our capability to secure outside counsel when needed.
By vetoing this bill and removing the contingency fee caps, Governor McAuliffe is preserving the ability of the Attorney General to enrich Gulf Coast trial lawyers at the expense of Virginia teachers, law enforcement, and retirees. I want to keep this money within the borders of Virginia, and it's a shame that the Governor doesn't agree. The citizens of the Commonwealth deserve better.