The circular logic being used to protect and defend attorney fees in the Texas tobacco settlement is making me dizzy. The governor is demanding that the issue of legal fees be separated from the settlement. The attorney general says the deal cannot be altered. Attorney fees and settlement dollars are inseparable he says.
However, when discussing the prospects of re-opening negotiations to get a sweeter deal similar to Minnesota's, the attorney general avoids the issue of attorney fees by saying fees are a separate issue. The debate over attorney fees has become a never-ending game of semantics.
The purpose of the tobacco lawsuit was to compensate taxpayers for monies spent on smoking-related illnesses.
That goal won't be achieved unless the governor, attorney general and the county and hospital districts all compromise. Without compromise, closure is impossible and protracted litigation is all but assured.
If either the governor or attorney general is adamant about resolving the fee issue through litigation, there will be years of appeals. It's time to work out your differences, guys.
Tom Beaty, Houston