Attorney General Sunshine – S.B. 984
Requires state agencies and officials to use an open request
Requires state agencies and officials to use an open request for proposal process when seeking outside counsel in a matter in which attorneys’ fees may exceed $1 million. Mandates inclusion of due process safeguards in contingency-fee contracts between the state and outside counsel, such as ensuring that government attorneys have complete control over the litigation and settlement. Requires state agencies and officials to disclose to the attorney general any past or present relationship between the attorney or firm and state agency, the reason use of a contingency-fee arrangement is believed to be in the state’s interest, and the justification for hiring the private attorney or firm before entering a contract. Requires submission of a copy of contracts in which fees may be $1 million or more, along with supporting information, to the Legislative Oversight Committee. Establishes a maximum sliding scale for contingency fees in state contracts with outside counsel ranging from 25% of amounts below $10 million to 5% of amounts over $25 million (the percentage declines as recovery increases). Prohibits a total fee in excess of $50 million. Makes contingency-fee contracts available to the public on the attorney general’s website and requires firms to maintain records of their time and expenses and requires the attorney general to submit an annual report to Governor and legislative leaders describing the use of contracts with private law firms and attorneys over the prior year. Prohibits provisions in settlement agreements that direct money to any place other than the state or state agency that is a party litigation, which must be paid into the state treasury. Exempts agencies not subject to notice and comment requirements and securities litigation conducted on behalf of state entities.