Press Release: Yost Calls on Dettelbach to Disclose Opioid “Legal and Monetary Firewall” Agreement

COLUMBUS (July 16, 2018) – Auditor of State and GOP attorney general nominee Dave Yost today called on Democratic challenger Steve Dettelbach to come clean about his role in the fight to protect big drug companies from Ohio’s opioid lawsuit.

The Associated Press reported Dettelbach’s firm is defending Endo Health Solutions and Endo Pharmaceuticals, two drug companies sued by Ohio for deceptive marketing of addictive opioids. Under Ohio’s Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys, this arrangement creates a conflict of interest that will prohibit Dettelbach from representing the State of Ohio in its lawsuit against the pharmaceutical industry.

Dettelbach told the AP he has a “legal and monetary firewall” agreement in place with his law firm, but did not disclose any written documents to support the claim. Equally troubling, Dettelbach did not disclose his law firm’s role in defending opioid manufacturers when he made public statements in support of the state’s lawsuit – a role that was only made public through media reports.

“Steve Dettelbach’s words do no match his actions,” Yost said. “He publicly pays lip service to suffering Ohioans, but stands by while his law partners get rich fighting against us.”

Dettelbach heads BakerHostetler’s white collar litigation team, the section of the firm that is handling the lawsuit.

“Dettelbach has never given a straight answer on his involvement in the opioid makers’ defense,” Yost said. “Is he personally profiting? Are the Big Pharma fees excluded from the firm’s income stream for purposes of calculating his share of the firm’s profits? Did he participate in the decision to take this case and fight Ohio’s interests? It’s time to drag this both-sides-of-his-mouth business deal out into the daylight.”

Yost called on Dettelbach to disclose:

  • All documentation pertaining to the ethical and financial firewalls Dettelbach claims to have in place, including when they were drafted and executed;
  • When Endo Health Solutions and Endo Pharmaceuticals became BakerHostetler clients;
  • Information regarding discussions Dettelbach has had with BakerHostetler colleagues concerning the case;
  • Any financial benefit Dettelbach has received from BakerHostetler’s representation of Endo Health Solutions, Endo Pharmaceuticals and any other opioid maker implicated in the state’s lawsuit;
  • The accounting treatment of Big Pharma fees for purposes of calculating Dettelbach’s share of his firm’s profit; and
  • Other conflict agreements Dettelbach has with his law firm.

Dettelbach faced a similar conflict of interest when serving as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

“The most important case that federal prosecutors in Cleveland worked on during Steven Dettelbach’s tenure was one that Dettelbach couldn’t touch.The U.S. attorney previously represented a target of the federal corruption probe into Cuyahoga County government.”

Is history repeating itself?

As Ohio Auditor of State, Yost and his team have helped secure 165 criminal convictions of corrupt public officials, and found more than $260 million in efficiency savings for government. He served for eight years as the Delaware County Prosecutor, winning the first capital murder case in the county’s history and taking down the county’s largest drug ring. Yost is also a former county auditor, city council member and award-winning journalist.

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