Patrick McGuigan, a former Reagan White House staffer, published a story in CapitolBeatOk, this week. In his well-researched paper, he follows the money and the opioide lawsuits; or more accurately, the lack thereof.
In McGuigan's article, he shows the very active role of the dark money group, Republican Attorney Generals Association (RAGA). RAGA is also a political force through their dark money group which spends fortunes to help incumbents ward off other conservative primary challengers.
McGuigan, who is the state's elder journalistic mentor; was once a prominent figure in newspaper publishing when the Gaylord family ran a far more conservative Daily Oklahoman. He now teaches classic journalism in secondary & post secondary educational institutions.
Why now? Why is this lawsuit strategically timed for the re election? And why are some 'incumbent-friendly' opioide distributors exempt?
More importantly, why did Hunter leave off so many opioide dealers who are already named in other lawsuits in other states?
An Enquiring Mind needs to know:
OKLAHOMA CITY – An Enquiring Mind needs to know: What are the grounds upon which the legal powers-that-be in Oklahoma decide who/what to include, and who/what to exclude, from historic litigation brought against “Big Pharma”?
That is the collective nickname for the pharmaceutical companies that make Opioids, the legal but increasingly marginalized medicines that Americans once loved, but now hate.
One pharmaceutical company of note, Sanofi, is not named in any the hundreds of lawsuits that have been filed at various levels of American government, including federal, state, local and tribal entities.
The fact it is foreign-owned has perhaps introduced an element of caution for the various American governments searching for additional revenues, to supplement those secured in the tobacco litigation of years past.
Still, the drama is unfolding and it seems clear that permitting its products to be sold in the United States could yet expose Sanofi to prosecution – but it is not part of the Oklahoma litigation. Still, remember this figure: $25,000.
There are six other companies thus far missing from action brought by our state against major pharmaceutical firms.
McKesson Corporation was named by the Cherokee Nation in its lawsuit patterned on various state lawsuits. McKesson is also a star player in suits filed in Ohio, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Delaware, Florida and Kentucky. Although the company’s distribution network includes the Sooner State, it was not included in the lawsuit hereabouts. You must remember this: $25,000.
AbbVie, another Big Pharma entity, is a party in the Ohio consolidated federal case against Opioid producers, but is not named in the Oklahoma case. So, remember this: $25,000.
Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals is named in the Missouri, Kentucky, New Mexico, and Illinois litigation. In fact, it is involved in 281 suits. The company recently settled a demand from the U.S. Department of Justice for $35 million. Ouch – but they are not named in Oklahoma’s lawsuit. So, keep this figure in mind: $10,000.
Smaller fry unfettered by concerns over Oklahoma litigation include:
* Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America represents several pharmaceutical companies, but they have not been pulled into the Oklahoma litigation. A trade association, they wouldn't be an inviting target. However: Their love offering? $5,000.
* Pfizer, Inc. has been sued by Allergan (a defendant in some other lawsuits) which is seeking indemnification for production of opioids. No sign of Pfizer in the Oklahoma litigation – $1,000 is the modest sum to remember. (Allegan is named in the Oklahoma action.)
* Express Scripts received a demand letter from 16 state attorneys general – but Oklahoma’s A.G. declined to join in. Could a mere $500 procure peace?
To put a fine point on this, all seven of these entities share an important, perhaps in some quarters dispositive, attribute.
Namely, they are, each and every one, contributors (in the amounts indicated) to the political action arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA). RAGA has become a significant player in Oklahoma politics this summer, through June having spent around $500,000 in an independent expenditure supporting the incumbent (appointed, not elected) Attorney General of Oklahoma.
RAGA has not eased up – the spending total for the runoff is another $700,000, according to available federal and state filings. The total RAGA expenditure is $1.2 million to date.
The runoff is scheduled to conclude around the state on Tuesday, August 28, with early voting at county election boards commencing in just a few days.
Mike Hunter is the appointed incumbent.
His opponent is Gentner Drummond.
NOTE: The first version of this story under-reported total RAGA spending in the Oklahoma attorney general's race. The story has been updated and is now correct. In the photograph accompanying this story, Pat McGuigan is shown on an "Oklahoma Forum" segment for "The Oklahoma Network" earlier in this decade.
The Republican Attorney Generals Association has a 'dark money' funneling device which has helped many AGs currently in office, to ward off challenges from the left and right.
While the name suggests an institution dedicated to maintaining law & order, it appears (and McGuigan's journalism points out) that some subversion of law and order may be happening, whether RAGA is a willing player or not.