Former Gov. Ted Kulongoski and former Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers circulated a floor letter today in advance of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on House Bill 4143, which would allocate unclaimed class action lawsuit monies to legal aid services for low-income Oregonians.
The two wrote that the proposed legislation "holds offenders accountable for their fraudulent actions while funding Legal Aid Services."
The bill passed the House 36-21 on Monday, picking up four Republican votes, but will face heavy opposition in the Senate.
Kulongoski, governor from 2003 to 2011, has a serious legal pedigree—he was attorney general from 1993 to 1997 and an Oregon Supreme Court Justice from 1997 to 2001. Myers served three terms as AG from 1997 to 2009.
The two former AGs are joining current AG Ellen Rosenblum in supporting the legislation. Former AG Dave Frohnmayer, who served as the state's top lawyer from 1980 to 1990 opposes the bill.
There's a difference, however: Kulongoski and Myers represent only themselves, while Frohnmayer's law firm represents BP and Philip Morris. Both companies are involved in current Oregon cases that give them a financial reason to oppose the bill. Frohnmayer's colleague, Bill Gary, acknowledged earlier this week that he and Frohnnmayer's floor letter opposing the bill did not but should have disclosed those client relationships.
Here's the letter Kulongoski and Myers submitted today.