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Lawyer John Goodson recommended 2 firms that got state auditor contract

by Brian Fanney | February 22, 2016 at 7:55 p.m.

High-profile class-action lawyer John Goodson recommended two law firms that are pursuing legal action to allow state Auditor Andrea Lea to cash unredeemed U.S. savings bonds, her office said Monday.

Skot Covert, a spokesman for Lea, confirmed that Goodson recommended the Cooper & Kirk and Kessler Topaz law firms. Goodson was not paid for his recommendation, Covert said.

Lea “chose Cooper & Kirk, a firm that she was familiar with through her service on the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System board and who had documented wins versus the federal government in order to give Arkansas the best possible chance at victory,” Covert said in a statement.

Arkansas Business first reported the recommendation Monday.

The auditor’s office received a separate recommendation from Ruth Whitney, chief executive of InVeritas Research & Consulting Inc., who had advocated for the 2015 bill that became the state law on savings bonds.

Whitney recommended the Mike Moore Law Firm, Covert said, which has represented other states in their efforts to redeem savings bonds. The auditor’s office understood that Whitney was representing the firm as a lobbyist.

“Auditor Lea weighed the Mike Moore Law Firm’s lackluster performance before the General Assembly as well as their inability to thus far successfully litigate similar suits and had serious doubts on their ability to litigate the matter in court,” he said.

Goodson did not return a request for comment left with his Texarkana law office. Goodson has worked with the firms representing Lea — Cooper & Kirk and Kessler Topaz — in the past.

He is married to state Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson. She is now running for chief justice. In January, an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette investigation found that Kessler Topaz is among the larger donors to Arkansas Supreme Court races, along with Goodson.

Goodson and his law firm, Keil & Goodson, gave $6,000 to help fund Lea’s 2014 election. Over 14 years, Goodson and the firm have given at least $650,000 to candidates in Arkansas and elsewhere, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

Read Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.


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