Truth Test: Hunter’s ‘$100 Million Lawsuit’

Wednesday, August 22nd 2018, 10:58 am
By: Grant Hermes

Gentner Drummond has made many claims about Mike Hunter's record, but we're taking a look at one he's making about Hunter's current work -- suing drug makers over the opioid crisis. 

“Presently, we have a no bid, no cap contract to political patrons of Mr. Hunter that maximized their contributions. And they will get upwards of $100 million,” Drummond said during the News9/NewsOn6 debate on July 31.

It wasn't just on TV either. He made a similar claim in a press release. A “no-bid contract worth $100 million.”

So, is Drummond telling the truth? Kind of. But there's some serious spin going on. Here's why.

According to the contract signed by Whitten-Burrage, the law firm Hunter hired to run the opioid case, the agreement isn't worth any explicit amount. Instead, it's on a pay scale that looks like this.

The firm gets 25 percent of any pay out to the state between $0 and $100 million all the way up to 35 percent of a payout more than $500 million. But there's no mention of it explicitly being worth $100 million.

So, what about the no bid part that's shady right? The no bid part, no. But who it went to, that's something else

According to state law, contracts for professional services, including lawyers, are exempt from contract bidding meaning even if Hunter wanted to send out a bid request, he couldn't.

As for who it went to, members of the law firm and their family members have donated extensively to Hunter's campaign, including the weeks before the lawsuit was filed. 

Reggie Whitten, one of the name partners at the firm, said he donated to Hunter because he believes in his fight against drug companies. Whitten lost a son to opioid addiction in 2002 and later started a group for addiction awareness, but he is still a donor.

Drummond is trying to build a case that the deal is shady, but it's built on twisting some of the facts to make the contract sound more lucrative and shady than it actually is. 

That's why we're calling this claim misleading. 

Below is the PDF of candidate committee contributions and expenditures report for Mike Hunter: