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Meadows Introduces Bill to Ensure Transparent Disbursement of Settlement Money

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State Representative Mark Meadows (D-East Lansing), chair of the Michigan State House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, has taken aim at the office of state Attorney General and its current occupant, Mike Cox. It seems that Meadows is hoping to prevent Cox from using the Attorney General’s office to shore up support for his run for the governorship in 2010.

Meadows has introduced House Bill 4799, which would require money received by the State of Michigan in the form of settlements to be deposited into the state’s general fund. The excess settlement money would then be doled out by the standard appropriations process, rather than at the discretion of the Attorney General.

Meadow’s bill was prompted after Cox offered to give $500,000 to two Grand Rapids-area parks. The money was part of a settlement agreement between the State of Michigan and beleaguered mortgage giant Countrywide. The proposed allocation met with local opposition and allegations that the contribution was politically motivated. Adding to the concern was the apparent involvement of Peter Secchia, a well-known Republican.

Cox has dismissed accusations of partisan behavior stemming from his authority as Attorney General. Meadows, meanwhile, states that his intention is not to rein in Cox, but rather to ensure State settlement money is disbursed in a transparent manner and with full accountability.