One of Oklahoma’s prominent trial lawyers is defending Governor Brad Henry against accusations of appearance of impropriety, saying the big ol’ fishing trip to Brazil was just a fishing trip. Sure, Henry vetoed tort reform legislation earlier this year, but just because the fishing party was a bunch of trial lawyers, doesn’t mean there was any connection. From The Oklahoman:
The purpose of a trip to Brazil by the governor and mostly other attorneys was to fish and not to talk about lawsuit reform or other legislative issues, the organizer said Tuesday.
“There is not any business or politics or anything serious talked about on a fishing trip,” said Terry West, a Shawnee attorney and longtime family friend of Gov. Brad Henry.
West said he booked the trip more than a year ago — long before the governor vetoed a lawsuit reform bill in April.
“The trip would have gone forward, had there been no tort reform bill or if he had signed one,” he said. “It’s just unrelated to legislative events.”
That’s probably right. People do develop personal relationships outside of narrow legislative interests; lobbyists need friends, too. Henry had a life before becoming governor and getting the power to veto legislation he had promised to sign.
But, still…Knowing that legal reform — an issue Henry campaigned on — would be a major issue in Oklahoma’s 2007 legislative session, Terry West booked a big trip for lawyers and the governor beforehand? And we’re only hearing about it now?
Makes you suspect that Henry’s advocacy of tort reform was never sincere.
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