Attorney General Koster shifts ethics focus back on legislature

Attorney General Chris Koster has testified to a committee assembled in response to a New York Times article that tied his office’s decisions about what companies to investigate to campaign contributions from those companies’ lobbyists, and turned that attention back on Missouri lawmakers.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster offers an explanation to a House Committee of why his office didn't pursue a lawsuit against the makers of 5-Hour Energy Drinks.  (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

(Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster offers an explanation to a House Committee of why his office didn’t pursue a lawsuit against the makers of 5-Hour Energy Drinks. (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The committee was created by House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka) after the October article that suggested Koster pulled the plug on investigations of companies at the urging of their lobbyists, only to receive donations later from those lobbyists’ firms.

Koster defended his decisions and noted that his office’s policies concerning when investigations would proceed changed before that article’s release, and since then his office changed its policies about accepting donations from companies it is investigating or had in the previous 90 days.

Regarding the three areas focused on in the Times’ article, Koster stood by his office’s actions and decisions regarding 5-Hour Energy Drinks and AT&T. He again admitted that a mistake was made causing Missouri to miss a filing deadline in a case against pharmaceutical company Pfizer, but noted that Missouri was the only state among 17 to miss that deadline but pursue an alternative legal theory and come out with a settlement.

Koster was pointed in his response to the article, and the formation of that committee in response to it.

Speaking about the 5-Hour energy investigation, Koster said, “To assert that this is the type of case that Missouri should be prosecuting is just silly. Back when I was a Republican we would have considered a lawsuit of this kind to be frivolous and abusive to Missouri’s business community, but today the Speaker has convened a House investigative hearing to inquire as to why this case was never brought.”

Sounding as if he was arguing a case, Koster then called on the legislature to think of its own actions in the same way he says the article made him think about his office’s.

“While Missouri has a relatively transparent campaign finance system, there are several steps I hope the legislature will consider in order to begin to improve this process,” Koster told the committee.

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Source: MissouriNet