Nevada Legislature: Bill reins in Attorney General on hiring outside counsel | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada Legislature: Bill reins in Attorney General on hiring outside counsel

Legislation designed to rein in the Attorney General’s freedom to contract with outside counsel and join multi-state lawsuits is headed for Gov. Brian Sandoval’s desk.

SB244 was authored by Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, who said the governor’s office and lawmakers should be involved in decisions that can commit the state to outside legal costs.

He said the plan doesn’t affect the AG’s ability to hire outside counsel to defend against lawsuits or to hire specialty law firms when specific expertise is needed.

But instead of just hiring those lawyers, the bill would require the attorney general to consult with the governor first and would present the contract for services to the legislative Interim Finance Committee for approval.

Brower said the requirements apply to those multi-state lawsuits the AG has frequently joined as well. One problem, he said, is too often, those contracts send any money the state gets not to the General Fund but to a special fund managed by the attorney general.

Brower said money should go to the state General Fund. He said having IFC review those contracts in advance would enable lawmakers to determine where any money recovered should go and what it should be used for.

He said that would let lawmakers determine, “if it is truly being done to benefit the state.”

The bill also requires the attorney general to report on the status and cost of all such outside legal contracts to the Legislature on a regular basis. Brower said there have been problems getting some of that information in the past.

He said the law isn’t aimed at the current AG or, for that matter, any specific attorney general in the past. All have made similar decisions, especially in joining multi-state legal actions against corporations he said too often provide the most benefit to the lawfirms handling them on behalf of the states. He said he expects Gov. Sandoval to sign SB244.