After reading Sam Hannah’s article last week in the Ouachita Citizen, I had to check to make sure I clicked the right link. I thought that I had somehow gotten to a Buddy Caldwell campaign press release. There was no mistake. I understand opinion editorials, but I was surprised to see that it lacked any pretense of objective journalism.
Apparently, Buddy Caldwell should be applauded for his magnificent leadership in reaching the settlement between the state and BP over the oil spill. The outside lawyers that Buddy hired are only getting $38 million in fees, while firms representing other states are getting close to $700 million. It does seem like a good deal, but hardly anything is as it seems.
No matter how much Mr. Hannah may want to simplify it to cast Buddy in a nice light, there are few facts that I think he and his readers should be reminded.
The reason the lawyers are getting paid $38 million instead of close to a billion has nothing to do with the leadership of Buddy Caldwell. In fact, shortly after the spill, the Attorney General tried his hardest to see that his friends and campaign contributors would be enriched just like the lawyers of those other states.
Since Mr. Hannah didn’t, let me put on my journalistic cap and offer a little background so you can be truly informed. Louisiana law provides that outside lawyers hired by the AG to represent the state be paid on an hourly rate instead of being allowed a contingency on the reward won by the state. But shortly after the BP spill, Buddy teamed with the Senate President to offer SB 731 in the 2010 legislative session. The bill would have allowed the lawyers Buddy hired compensation based on a contingency agreement instead of an hourly rate. Fortunately for us, he wasn’t successful. But had he been, the campaign contributors he hired to represent the state would have made a killing just like those lawyers representing the other Gulf States.
This notion that man should be applauded for something he fought against is ludicrous.