During stop in Meriden, attorney general discusses why his office takes the lead on national investigations

During stop in Meriden, attorney general discusses why his office takes the lead on national investigations

Record-Journal


MERIDEN — The state Office of the Attorney General is probably among the most bulletproof during budget negotiations.

“We make a very persuasive case that we bring in more money than it costs to run our office,” Attorney General George Jepsen told members of the Midstate Chamber of Commerce on Friday.

Jepsen’s office includes 200 attorneys who advocate on behalf of the state. With an operating budget of $30 million, the office generated $565.5 million in revenue in fiscal year 2014.

“Connecticut is a national leader on investigations,” he said.

A class action lawsuit against Volkswagen netted $14 million, as opposed to $9 million the state would have received had it not been the lead plaintiff. A lawsuit involving Moody’s accused the credit rating service of contributing to the stock market crash of 2008 by altering its rating standards on securities. A settlement in that case put $31.5 million in the state’s coffers this year, instead of $11 million had it not been a lead plaintiff, Jepsen said.

“The case we are making is that by being a national leader, they would be penny wise and pound foolish to deprive us of that ability,” Jepsen said of his agency’s budget.

Connecticut is also the lead plaintiff in an anti-trust lawsuit against six generic drug makers accused of entering illegal conspiracies in order to unreasonably restrain trade. About 40 other states joined the lawsuit and a settlement was recently reached. Details won’t be available until Monday, according to Jepsen’s office.

Jepsen is the president of the National Association of Attorneys General and also co-chairman of the Standing Committee on Antitrust.

“It’s extremely important, before we take a position, that we try to make sure we get it right,” he said. “If we get it wrong, it can wreck a business.”

Most of the work that comes across his desk is done in-house, Jepsen told the crowd at the Four Points by Sheraton. What Jepsen believes was the toughest case in the state’s history — filed by the Coalition for Justice in Education Funding — called for thousands of hours of legal work done by five full-time lawyers. The state won an appeal of a lower court’s ruling that would have cost millions.

“It was a huge resource allocation for our office and we won,” Jepsen said.

Jepsen fielded questions about alternative ways to fund state colleges and universities, his thoughts on President Trump’s recent executive order on travel, and why he was among 20 attorney generals nationwide who called for an independent counsel to investigate possible ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

“We believe it protected the public interest of Connecticut residents,” Jepsen said.


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