Behind the choice of an OKC law firm to represent the state in winter storm lawsuits
The political connections between Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond and the law firm he chose to handle the attempted recovery of billions of dollars from record high natural gas prices during the 2021 winter storm Uri are more than $5,800 in campaign contributions to Drummond.
There are other connections, though they may be indirect, but involve tens of thousands of dollars for those who influence the Attorney General in his daily decisions.
Drummond announced last week his selection of the Oklahoma City law firm Foshee & Yaffe to attempt legal action following the Attorney General’s conclusion there was market manipulation at the time of the deadly winter storm. The Attorney General’s choice was made after an offical Request for Proposal was made and the firm was one of a handful of law firms that submitted bids.
At the time, OK Energy Today pointed out one of the attorneys, Alex Yaffe, had been a contributor of $5,800 to Gentner’s 2022 run for office.
There are other financial and political connections involving the law firm. One of the chosen law firm’s attorneys, Christopher L. Kannady, who is also a Senior Counsel for the Federal group in Washington, D.C. and a state representative from a South Oklahoma City House district, used a political consulting firm owned in part by the wife of Drummond’s Chief of Staff, Trebor Worthen.
Trebor Worthen is known for the political consulting he did for candidates in the state, not to mention the criminal investigation and charges involving A.H. Strategies, the former firm in which he was a partner at one time. The firm, before it was dissolved, received $34,942.00 from Kannady’s political campaigns.
Worthen was partners with Fount Holland and Karl Ahlgren at A.H. Strategies until 2016 when Holland was indicted by the Oklahoma County District Attorney. The charges were dismissed a year later.
Trebor Worthen, who is not a lawyer, was also once a partner in “Majority Designs,” a printing and mailing service. The firm received more than $6,400 from Rep. Kannady.
Following the end of Majority Designs, Worthen’s wife, Jenna, launched “The James Martin Company,” a fundraising and political consulting firm. She is registered with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission as a “Designated Filing Agent” for none other than Gentner Drummond.
Campaign records indicate Kannady’s legislative campaigns spent $47,406.72 with the James Martin Co.
As OK Energy Today previously reported, Foshee and Yaffe, known mostly for its worker’s comp experience, was also the firm used by the Attorney General in doing an early investigation whether there was market manipulation. It was a decision by the Attorney General that allowed Foshee and Yaffe to get it foot in the door in winning the ultimate recovery work for the state.
Despite the firm’s reputation for handling worker’s comp cases, Drummond picked it to handle recovery of billions of dollars in the energy cases.
““I was greatly impressed by the firm’s extensive experience and their demonstrated abilities to win favorable judgments on behalf of government clients,” Drummond said last week in announcing his selection of the firm.
“I look forward to working with them to hold accountable any bad actors and fight for Oklahoma ratepayers.”
How much was the firm paid by the state for the primary probe?
The Attorney General’s office isn’t saying. Despite repeated requests by OK Energy Today since Drummond’s announcement a month ago to seek bids for a law firm to recover billions of dollars from historically high gas prices during the storm, the AG’s office did not reveal the cost of using Foshee and Yaffe in the initial investigation.
The office did provide a copy the contract, which provided for a maximum $50,000 payment. The contract indicated the four attorneys in the law firm who handled the initial review for Drummond lowered their rates. Alex Yaffe, Matt Sill, Katie Griffin and Simone Fulmer each charged $825 an hour but lowered their fees to $250 an hour.
The RFP issued by the Attorney General’s office seeking bids from law firms to represent the state in recovering money from the alleged market manipulation stated the firm or firms would be limited in payment to $50 million.
However, what isn’t known and cannot be provided by the Attorney General’s office, is the actual amount that was paid to Foshee and Yaffe and also whether it was a sole-source contract, one decided only by the Attorney General. A sole-source contract would have not have involved competitive bidding.