You can download the emails as a PDF here.
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||CONTACT: LEIGH FIFELSKI|
|WEDNESDAY, May 12, 2010||(517) 999-3646|
LANSING – Attorney General Mike Cox is tarnishing his office after four top aides – including Cox’s press secretary for his gubernatorial campaign – were linked to e-mails circulated among partisan operatives and attorneys general plotting to kill new federal health care reforms, according to documents obtained and released today by citizens group Progress Michigan.
In emails obtained by Progress Michigan, four of Attorney General Mike Cox’s top aides are communicating and coordinating on a federal lawsuit to defeat health care reform with the Republican State Leadership Committee, a federal 527 political committee with funding ties to the health care insurance industry. The Republican State Leadership Committee gave Cox $35,000 in political contributions for his 2006 election campaign, according to campaignmoney.com.
“Right now, the taxpayer-funded lawsuit trail leads from the Michigan Attorney General’s office straight to partisan politics,” Progress Michigan Executive Director David Holtz said. “At taxpayer expense, Mike Cox is tarnishing the Attorney General’s office in an unprecedented way by pushing his personal political agenda and ambitions and sticking taxpayers with the bill for his lawsuit. Mike Cox should be working for the people of Michigan, not trying to score partisan political points.”
The documents were obtained by Progress Michigan from a citizens group in Wisconsin where the attorney general’s office has also been implicated in a widening controversy that now involves several Republican attorneys general. Today’s disclosure is the first to link Cox to the controversial emails.
Emails obtained by a Wisconsin citizens’ group, One Wisconsin Now, showed that Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s office was communicating on the federal lawsuit with political consultants working for the Republican State Leadership Committee. The RSLC has spent more than $57 million to elect Republican candidates since 2002. The E-mail traffic connected Van Hollen’s office to RSLC and other Republican attorneys general and their offices working to overturn reforms, including Cox’s office.
The emails obtained by Progress Michigan show correspondence involving Cox’s office and Ben Cannatti, RSLC’s political director, just days before Cox’s federal lawsuit challenging the health care reforms. Four of Cox’s top aides in Michigan, along with Cannatti, were copied in e-mails dated March 22 and March 23 from Florida deputy attorney General Joe Jacquot and Bryan Stirling, South Carolina’s deputy attorney general. The four Cox aides are: Carol Isaacs, chief deputy attorney general; Eric Restuccia, solicitor general; Marks Sands, assistant attorney general; and Nick DeLeeuw, press secretary for Cox’s campaign to be Michigan governor and a former spokesman for Cox in his role as attorney general. Mr. Cannatti, owner of Caleb Consulting, has been on retainer with the RSLC since 2005, “advising the committee on political and issue operations, press and message development [and] policy,” his website says.
The e-mails discussed the deadline, 10 a.m. March 23, for signing onto the lawsuit challenging the new federal health care reforms that expand insurance access and coverage to tens of millions of Americans. Later that day, 14 states announced the lawsuit, including South Carolina, Florida and Michigan.
A Michigan Freedom of Information Act request from Progress Michigan was submitted to Cox’s office on April 27. Cox’s office has invoked a 15-day delay in fulfilling the FOIA request. The Progress Michigan FOIA request asks for “access to copies of all correspondence and other documents in possession of the Michigan Attorney General’s office related to the filing by Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox of a lawsuit against the United States challenging the constitutionality of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act.”