See update below for some preliminary money trail notes
It's bad enough to have states spending taxpayers' money on a frivolous effort to repeal health care reform, but it's mind-blowing to see how deep the Republican party's involvement was in those lawsuits.
One Wisconsin Now has released an email (PDF) it obtained showing a direct line between the Wisconsin Attorney General's office and the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC).
From their press release:
The emails One Wisconsin Now obtained indicate [Wisconsin Dep. AG] Taffora had contacted [RSLC Political Director] Cannatti looking for lawsuit information. Cannatti's response, which was sent at 9:09 the morning immediately following passage of the health reform bill, suggested Taffora talk to Bryan Stirling, the Deputy Attorney General of South Carolina, who Cannatti said was "coordinating efforts" between the Republican Attorneys General filing the lawsuit.
Among the largest contributors to the RSLC is the American Justice Partnership, created by the National Association of Manufacturers. The American Justice Partnership has donated $2 million to RSLC since 2006 and its website features advertisements run by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce against Kathleen Falk in 2006, Van Hollen's opponent. WMC spent an estimated $2.5 million in Van Hollen's razor-thin victory. The page, also featuring WMC ads for pro-corporate Supreme Court Justices Mike Gableman and Annette Ziegler, is available at: http://americanjusticepartnership.com/partners.php
Van Hollen needs to explain why instead of consulting legal experts and constitutional scholars, he was relying on advice from political consultants," said Ross. "It's a gross abuse of power when the Attorney General puts politics above the law."
Van Hollen's office is refusing to release the full extent of email communications regarding the potential lawsuit requested March 24 by One Wisconsin Now. The request sought documents and communications between the Attorney General's office about the potential lawsuit dating back to January 1, 2010. Van Hollen claims the documents are protected by attorney-client privilege, though it is clearly not the citizens of Wisconsin, his only true clients, that Van Hollen is trying to protect.
We all know these lawsuits are politically motivated. That's no surprise at all. Attorney Generals are elected to oversee the legal interests of the people of the state they represent. They are not elected to do the bidding of high-rolling Republican donors.
And yet, they are. I'll have more on the players in this particular drama as soon as I can put it all together for you. In the meantime, here's a picture of the ugly truth.
Update #1: Following the money, honey:
Ken Cuccinelli, VA Attorney General - Filed one of the earliest lawsuits on March 23, 2010. Received a $15,000 contribution from the RSLC sent February 16, 2010.
Greg Abbott, TX Attorney General - Filed one of the earliest lawsuits on March 23, 2010. Received a $50,000 contribution from the RSLC sent December 18, 2009.
Wayne Stenehjem, ND Attorney General - Joined other states on April 5, 2010. Received $25,000 contribution from the RSLC sent March 16, 2010.
Finally, the RSLC-TENNESSEE PAC received a transfer of $200,000 on December 18, 2009. I'm still tracking down where the funds went after that transfer. Because it is state-based, it depends upon the state disclosure system and what information they release.