In 2014, questions were raised about the appearance of conflicts of interest in attorney general offices around the nation. A Republican led investigation found no evidence Chris Koster engaged in foul play or provided special treatment. Still, Republicans are trying to muddy established facts. The truth is, Attorney General Koster’s office always let the facts dictate the direction of his office’s investigations. To remove even the appearance of a conflict, the Attorney General decided to impose the strictest ethics policy of any attorney general’s office in the nation.


FACT: Chris Koster testified in front of a Republican chaired House Ethics Committee in response to these questions. He was cleared of any wrongdoing and Republicans agreed with Chris’s actions in the lawsuits.

State Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, said he accepted Koster’s explanation on ‘face value.'” [St. Louis Business Journal, 12/9/14]

Barnes said the committee agreed with Koster’s decision not to pursue the 5-Hour Energy case.” [Columbia Missourian, 12/8/14]

I Know Chris Koster Better Than Most, And He Is Methodical, Detail-Oriented, And Judicious In The Decisions He Makes. The Article Doesn’t Portray A Guy I Know.” — Rep. Chris Molendorp, (R-Cass) [The Missouri Times, 11/3/14]


FACT: Under Chris Koster’s leadership, the Attorney General’s Office has won back over $600 million for the people of Missouri, including several major settlements from Pfizer and AT&T. He lets the law decide whether to move forward with the case.

Koster won “The Largest Nationwide Medicaid Fraud Settlement In History Resulted In Pfizer Paying The State $22 Million.” [AP, 12/31/09]

Koster reached a settlement with Pfizer for over $100,000 after “Allegations that the company engaged in illegal off-label marketing schemes to promote the sales of its urology drug Detrol for uses that were not approved by the Food And Drug Administration (FDA).” [AGO, 10/21/11]

Koster announced $1.5 Million from Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Inc, a subsidiary of Pfizer. [AGO Press Release, 7/31/13]

Koster helped reach a $105 Million Dollar settlement With AT&T For “Cramming Violations” – Missouri received $314,715. [AGO Press Release, 10/8/14]


FACT: In the case of 5 Hour Energy, very few states chose to go through with the class action lawsuit. Similar suits were either trimmed or thrown out completely. Attorney General Koster saved taxpayer dollars from being wasted on a misguided and frivolous case.

Only four states went through with a suit against 5 Hour Energy: Washington, Hawaii, Vermont And Oregon. [Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 1/31/15]

5-Hour Energy Class Action MDL Trimmed.” [Top Class Actions, 9/9/14]

U.S. District Court Judge Philip S. Gutierrez dismissed the lead plaintiffs’ claims” [Top Class Actions, 9/9/14]

Collapse Of 5-Hour Energy Case Reveals The Secrets Of Class Action Lawyers.” [Forbes, 11/7/15]

Rubinstein warned that if 5-Hour refused, he would file similar lawsuits in other states to run up the costs” [Forbes, 11/7/15]


FACT: Despite being cleared of any wrongdoing, Koster self-imposed the strongest ethics policy in the nation on his office and campaign. Since instituting the policy, his office has refused or returned over $100,000.

Koster’s new policies “substantially raise the bar for ethics in our state. I hope other elected leaders will follow Koster’s example and adopt conflict-of-interest policies that increase confidence in our state’s political system.” — Mike Wolff, Dean of St. Louis University School of Law, Former Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court [KMWU, 11/19/14]

“By limiting campaign contributions from attorneys, clients, and lobbyists, these new rules positively address the appearance of governmental conflict-of-interest.” — R. Lawrence Dessem, Professor of Ethics at the University of Missouri School of Law [KMWU, 11/19/14]

“These New Restrictions Are The Strictest Conflict-Of-Interest Provisions Of Any Elected Attorney General In The United States. Transparency Is The Best Way To Erase Any Potential Perception Of A Conflict.” — Chris Koster [Think Progress, 11/20/14]

Koster returned over $100,000 since the new policy was put in place.
[Missouri Ethics Committee, Accessed 3/2/16]


More information

AFTER THE NEW YORK TIMES STORY, KOSTER TESTIFIED IN FRONT OF REPUBLICAN CHAIRED HOUSE ETHICS COMMITTEE, WHO AGREED WITH KOSTER’S EXPLANATION NOT TO PURSUE 5-HOUR ENERGY CASE AT “FACE VALUE” – KOSTER “IS METHODICAL, DETAIL-ORIENTED, AND JUDICIOUS IN THE DECISIONS HE MAKES. THE ARTICLE DOESN’T PORTRAY A GUY I KNOW”

Republican Rep. Jay Barnes Said He Accepted Koster’s Explanation At “Face Value.” “State Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, said he accepted Koster’s explanation on ‘face value.’ “What touches the nerve of the general public,” Barnes said, is attorneys general meeting lobbyists at upscale resorts and taking contributions from those with pending litigation, according to the Times.” [St. Louis Business Journal, 12/9/14]

Columbia Missourian: “Barnes Said The Committee Agreed With Koster’s Decision Not To Pursue The 5-Hour Energy Case.” [Columbia Missourian, 12/8/14]

Joplin Globe: “Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, Quizzed Koster About The Specifics Of His Dealings With The Companies. Barnes Said That While He Agreed With Koster’s Decisions, The Process By Which He Made Them Allowed For The Appearance Of Impropriety.” [Joplin Globe, 12/9/14]

Jay Barnes Was A Member Of The House Ethics Committee. [Missouri House, 98th General Assembly]

Republican Rep. Chris Molendorp Wondered “Who Had A Reason To Frame The [NYT] Story That Negatively And Who Had The Influence To Get It Done.” “Not all Republicans are eager to criticize Koster. ‘First, since when is 5-Hour Energy a pressing public policy issue for Missouri?’ Rep. Chris Molendorp, (R-Cass) said. ‘I would be stunned if they received complaints about the product’s effectiveness. Two, stories in the New York Times don’t just appear. The New York Times reporters have a lot to do, investigating a fly-over-country attorney general is interesting, so I wonder who had a reason to frame the story that negatively and who had the influence to get it done.’” [The Missouri Times, 11/3/14]

Molendorp: “I Know Chris Koster Better Than Most, And He Is Methodical, Detail-Oriented, And Judicious In The Decisions He Makes. The Article Doesn’t Portray A Guy I Know, It Portrays A Person Who Is Careless, Sloppy And Reckless And That Isn’t The Chris Koster I Know.” “‘Three, I know Chris Koster better than most, and he is methodical, detail-oriented, and judicious in the decisions he makes. The article doesn’t portray a guy I know, it portrays a person who is careless, sloppy and reckless and that isn’t the Chris Koster I know.’” [The Missouri Times, 11/3/14]

DEMOCRATS, FIREFIGHTERS AND UNIONS DEFENDED KOSTER – CALLED KOSTER “A MAN OF GREAT INTEGRITY”

Rep. Vicki Englund Said That Koster Was “An Attorney General With The Utmost Integrity.” “‘Chris Koster is an attorney general with the utmost integrity,’ Rep. Vicki Englund (D-St. Louis County) said. ‘Many times, I’ve seen him take on fights against powerful interests and be prudent not to use the authority of his office on cases that were without merit. To me, this smells like a political cheap shot by Republicans who look at their weak field for governor and have sour grapes that the best candidate in the field, Chris Koster, left their party.’” [The Missouri Times, 11/3/14]

Rep. Jeremy LaFaver Believed Koster Was “A Man Of Great Integrity” And “A Devoted Public Servant.” “‘Attorney General Koster is a man of great integrity and a devoted public servant,’ Rep. Jeremy LaFaver (D-Kansas City) said. ‘Any allegation to the contrary is simply someone grasping to score cheap political points.’” [The Missouri Times, 11/3/14]

MO AFL-CIO President Mike Louis Believed The Allegations Had No Merit. “‘Every case that Chris Koster takes on is in the best interest of the citizens of Missouri and when he decides not to take on one it is because he cannot win it,’ Louis said. ‘There is no merit and he doesn’t want to waste taxpayer money.’” [The Missouri Times, 11/3/14]

Missouri State Council Of Firefighters Legislative Director Mark Habbas Did Not See Koster Being Involved In “Any Pay-For-Play Activity.” “Others such as Mark Habbas, Legislative Director, Missouri State Council of Firefighters, were mildly critical of the article itself while defending Koster . ‘Chris Koster is one of the smartest people I know and there is no way I see him being involved in any pay-for-play activity,’ Habbas said. ‘The story seemed lacking when I read it.’” [The Missouri Times, 11/3/14]

TO SAY KOSTER HAD LET PFIZER OR AT&T GET A FREE PASS IS TO WILLFULLY IGNORE HIS RECORD OF JOINING ACTIONS AGAINST THOSE COMPANIES – AND IN THE CASE OF 5-HOUR ENERGY, THE VAST MAJORITY OF KOSTER’S FELLOW ATTORNEYS GENERAL AGREED WITH HIM, THIS WASN’T A CASE WORTH PURSUING
PFIZER

Kansas City Star: “Pfizer Agreed To Pay Missouri $750,000, At Least $350,000 Less Than What The State Would Have Collected Had It Participated In The Multistate Investigation. [Kansas City Star Editorial, 10/29/14]

AP Headline: “Missouri Gets $693,000 In Pfizer Settlement.” [AP, 8/8/14]

Koster Announced $1.5 Million From Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Inc That Was Purchased By Pfizer. [AGO Press Release, 7/31/13]

Koster Had Secured $22 Million From Pfizer “The Largest Nationwide Medicaid Fraud Settlement In History.” [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 12/31/09]

AT&T

Koster Helped Reach A $105 Million Dollar Settlement With AT&T For “Cramming Violations” – Missouri Received $314,715 In Penalties. “Attorney General Chris Koster announced today that Missouri, along with 49 other states and the District of Columbia, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Federal Communications Commission, has reached a settlement with AT&T Mobility, LLC, to resolve allegations that the company placed charges for third-party services on consumers’ mobile telephone bills without authorization by the consumers, a practice known as ‘cramming.’ The settlement requires the company to pay $105 million in penalties and restitution. Missouri consumers will be entitled to seek refunds for cramming violations, and Missouri will receive $314,715 in penalties. Consumers who have been “crammed” often complain about charges, typically $9.99 per month, for ‘premium’ text message subscription services (also known as “PSMS” subscriptions) that send texts with information such as horoscopes, trivia, and sports scores. Often consumers found themselves receiving these services without having requested them. Last fall, AT&T Mobility, along with Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, announced that it would stop billing their customers for these third-party charges. AT&T is the first mobile phone provider to enter a settlement to resolve the cramming allegations from past practices. Under the terms of today’s settlement, AT&T Mobility is required to pay $80 million in refunds to consumers who were victims of cramming. The fund will be administered by the Federal Trade Commission.” [AGO Press Release, 10/8/14]

Koster Announced AT&T Would Stop Unauthorized “Cramming” On Their Customers’ Bills. “Carriers have allowed third parties to use mobile billing to charge for their services– services most consumers did not want and may not have even noticed,” Koster said.  ‘It is time for this practice to stop.  We will continue to work with other carriers to encourage them to take the same step that AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile have agreed to take.’ Koster noted that eliminating these types of premium text messages will stop the majority of third-party charges on cell phone bills. Cramming on cell phones and landlines is estimated to cost Americans $2 billion per year.” [AGO, 11/21/13]

5-HOUR ENERGY

REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATIC ATTORNEYS GENERAL AGREED WITH KOSTER ON 5-HOUR ENERGY – ONLY 5 STATES HAD FILED RECENT CASES AGAINST 5-HOUR ENERGY

Judge Ruled Living Essentials Was Not At Fault In Lawsuit Brought By Oregon AG. [State of Oregon v. Living Essentials, LLC; Case No. 14CV09149, 10/4/16]

Indiana’s Case Against Living Essentials Was Dismissed. “Court Ends Indiana Attorney General’s Lawsuit Against Energy Shot Company for Alleged Misrepresentations. The Indiana Superior Court of Marion County granted summary judgment in favor of Living Essentials, LLC, and Innovation Ventures, LLC, the makers of liquid energy shot product 5-hour ENERGY, against all claims alleged by Indiana AG Greg Zoeller. In its order, the court found the AG’s allegations that the companies made implied claims that misrepresented, in part, the benefits of non-caffeine ingredients in 5-hour ENERGY were not actionable under Indiana law.” [State AG Report, 5/5/16]

Time: “Attorneys General In Five States Are Suing Bhargava’s Energy Shot Business, Accusing It Of Deceptive Marketing Practices.” “Five of those states — Indiana, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont and Washington — have sued the company since last July, accusing it of making deceptive claims in its marketing. Ohio settled with the company in July without filing suit, after investigating the company for deceptive marketing, with the energy drink company agreeing to pay $1 million for research or public education on childhood disease. Ohio and Indiana are the only states among the six with Republican attorneys general.” [Time, 3/26/16]

Only Four States Attorneys General Have Sued 5 Hour Energy: Washington, Hawaii, Vermont And Oregon. “Oregon, Washington and Vermont filed similar lawsuits last summer. The Hawaii lawsuit says advertising claims that the vitamins and nutrients in 5-hour Energy Original and Extra-Strength causes users to function at enhanced levels are false because the only ingredient that provides any claimed effect is caffeine.” [Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 1/31/15]

Indiana’s Case Against Living Essentials Was Dismissed. “Court Ends Indiana Attorney General’s Lawsuit Against Energy Shot Company for Alleged Misrepresentations. The Indiana Superior Court of Marion County granted summary judgment in favor of Living Essentials, LLC, and Innovation Ventures, LLC, the makers of liquid energy shot product 5-hour ENERGY, against all claims alleged by Indiana AG Greg Zoeller. In its order, the court found the AG’s allegations that the companies made implied claims that misrepresented, in part, the benefits of non-caffeine ingredients in 5-hour ENERGY were not actionable under Indiana law.” [State AG Report, 5/5/16]

Top Class Actions Headline: “5-Hour Energy Class Action MDL Trimmed.” [Top Class Actions, 9/9/14]

Top Class Actions: “Claims In The Multidistrict Consolidated Class Action Lawsuit Alleging That 5-Hour Energy Was Falsely Advertised Were Trimmed By A California Federal Judge Last Week.” “Claims in the multidistrict consolidated class action lawsuit alleging that 5-Hour Energy was falsely advertised were trimmed by a California federal judge last week. Lead plaintiffs in the consolidated class action lawsuits accused the makers of the popular energy drink, Innovation Ventures LLC and Living Essentials LLC of falsely claiming that consumption of 5-Hour Energy will give its consumer five hours of energy without leading to an ‘energy crash’ after use. The plaintiffs contend that 5-Hour Energy advertisements claim that the drink can provide this lasting energy because of its mix of B-vitamins and amino acids, but in reality, the plaintiffs argue, energy is provided by the over 200 milligrams of caffeine in the drink. The plaintiffs also allege that the small energy drinks wear off quickly. Multiple actions were consolidated into the present multidistrict litigation in California in June 2013, which seeks to establish a nationwide class with subclasses for purchasers of a decaffeinated version of the product; purchasers of four, six or 12 multipacks; and consumers in different states, including New York, California, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Ohio, Illinois, Georgia, New Mexico, New Jersey, Missouri, Indiana and Florida.” [Top Class Actions, 9/9/14]

Top Class Actions: “The Defendants Succeeded In Their Bid To Toss Most Of The Class Action Lawsuit. U.S. District Court Judge Philip S. Gutierrez Dismissed The Lead Plaintiffs’ Claims Under The California Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising Law And Consumer Legal Remedies Act, As Well As Various State Law Claims For Breach Of Express And Implied Warranties.” “On Thursday, the defendants succeeded in their bid to toss most of the class action lawsuit. U.S. District Court Judge Philip S. Gutierrez dismissed the lead plaintiffs’ claims under the California Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising Law and Consumer Legal Remedies Act, as well as various state law claims for breach of express and implied warranties. The defendants argued, and Gutierrez agreed, that the plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate that they had read or heard 5-Hour Energy advertisements. Gutierrez also denied the plaintiffs’ request for an injunction stating “[i]f plaintiffs do not intend to purchase 5-hour Energy in the future, defendants’ alleged misrepresentations cannot do them any injury, and injunctive relief will not provide them with any redress,” in his ruling while also allowing the plaintiffs to amend their complaint on this claim.” [Top Class Actions, 9/9/14]

However, The Judge Did Uphold The Fraud Claims In The Case. “Gutierrez upheld the plaintiffs’ fraud claims, however, pointing out in his ruling “all of the products relevant to this suit bore either the claim ‘5 hours of energy now’ or the claim ‘Hours of energy now’ on their labels. … However, even if that is not the case, it is self-evident that all 5-hour Energy products were labeled with the name 5-hour Energy, and plaintiffs assert that the 5-hour Energy name itself is misleading.’ Gutierrez also rejected the defendants’ arguments that the plaintiffs’ claims are preempted by U.S. Food and Drug Administration policy. Gutierrez indicated the plaintiffs will be able to amend most of their claims in light of the ruling. The plaintiffs are represented by L. Timothy Fisher and Annick M. Persinger of Bursor & Fisher PA.” [Top Class Actions, 9/9/14]

KOSTER RESPONDED TO NYT ARTICLE AND HOUSE HEARING BY SELF-IMPOSING THE STRONGEST ETHICS AND TRANSPARENCY RULES IN THE COUNTRY FOR AN ATTORNEY GENERAL

Koster: “These New Restrictions Are The Strictest Conflict-Of-Interest Provisions Of Any Elected Attorney General In The United States. “Transparency Is The Best Way To Erase Any Potential Perception Of A Conflict.” [Think Progress, 11/20/14]

KOSTER’S MODELED HIS NEW POLICY OFF OF NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN’S POLICY – AND THEN WENT FURTHER

Koster’s Policy Was Modeled Off Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman of New York. “Attorneys general across the country are considering possible voluntary changes in ethics codes to address issues raised by The Times, several current and former attorneys general said in interviews and in public comments. Mr. Koster said his policy was modeled after that of Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman of New York. A spokesman for Mr. Koster said he also supported Mr. Schneiderman’s call for the Democratic Attorneys General Association, which makes large contributions to attorney general candidates, to stop taking money from targets of investigation.” [New York Times, 11/19/14]

Koster’s Policy Went Even Further Than Schneiderman’s Policy.The new policy is modeled after one adopted by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The New York policy is similar to the one Attorney General Koster announced today, but unlike the New York policy,  Koster’s policy applies to attorneys, law firms and lobbyists directly involved in litigation against the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, in addition to applying to the litigants themselves. The new rules will apply to all campaign donations going forward.” [Missouri Times, 11/20/15]

KOSTER’S SELF-IMPOSED POLICY PROHIBITED ANY INDIVIDUAL, LOBBYIST, LAWYER, OR LAW FIRM WITH PENDING LITIGATION OR LITIGATION RESOLVED WITH THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE IN THE PREVIOUS 90 DAYS FROM CONTRIBUTING TO KOSTER’S CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE.  IN ADDITION, NO ONE EMPLOYED BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE COULD CONTRIBUTE TO KOSTER’S CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE, IN ADDITION TO REFUSING GIFTS OF ANY VALUE FROM REGISTERED LOBBYISTS

Koster’s New Policy Banned Contributions From “Individuals Or Companies That Are The Subject Of An Ongoing Investigation Or One That Has Been Resolved In The Prior Three Months, Nor Will He Accept Contributions From Any Lobbyists, Lawyers Or Law Firms Who Represent Them. He Also Announced He Would No Longer Take Gifts Of Any Value From Registered Lobbyists.” “Under Mr. Koster’s new policy, he will no longer accept donations from individuals or companies that are the subject of an ongoing investigation or one that has been resolved in the prior three months, nor will he accept contributions from any lobbyists, lawyers or law firms who represent them. He also announced he would no longer take gifts of any value from registered lobbyists.” [New York Times, 11/19/14]

Koster Would Not Take Any Money From Those Employed By The Attorney General’s Office. “The new policy:

  • Declines contributions from individuals and entities with litigation currently pending against the Attorney General’s Office or that has resolved in the past 90 days;
  • Declines contributions from lobbyists, attorneys, and their law firms, personally engaged in the representation of individuals and entities with litigation pending against the Attorney General’s Office or that has resolved in the past 90 days;
  • Declines contributions from anyone employed by the Attorney General’s Office.” [Missouri Times, 11/20/15]

All Campaign Donor Cards And Online Donations Were Subject To A Disclaimer Of The New Policy. “Beginning immediately, all campaign donor cards will contain the following declaration:

To the best of my knowledge:

  • Neither I personally nor any entity which I control has litigation presently pending against the MO Attorney General¹s office nor has had such litigation resolved by that office within the last 90 days;
  • I am not a lawyer, a law firm that employs a lawyer, or a registered lobbyist, personally engaged in current litigation against the MO Attorney General¹s office, nor have I represented any entity engaged in such litigation in the past 90 days;
  • I am not a current employee or contract employee of the MO Attorney General¹s office, nor have I been so employed in the past 90 days.

Contributors making an online donation will be asked to verify this disclaimer at the time of their donation, while individuals making a contribution via check will be asked to confirm this disclaimer in a separate disclosure form. The campaign will return contributions not conforming to this policy immediately upon determining any error has occurred.” [Missouri Times, 11/20/15]

KOSTER HAD RETURNED OVER $100,000 SINCE NEW POLICY PUT IN PLACE

Koster Had Returned Over $100,000 Since The New Policy Was Put In Place. [Missouri Ethics Committee, Accessed

3/2/16]

LEGAL SCHOLARS PRAISED PLAN – “SUBSTANTIALLY RAISE THE BAR FOR ETHICS IN OUR STATE”

Mike Wolff, Dean Of St. Louis University’s School Of Law, And Former Chief Justice Of The Missouri Supreme Court: Koster’s New Policies “Substantially Raise The Bar For Ethics In Our State.  I Hope Other Elected Leaders Will Follow Koster’s Example And Adopt Conflict-Of-Interest Policies That Increase Confidence In Our State’s Political System.” [KMWU, 11/19/14]

Dean R. Lawrence Dessem, Professor Of Ethics At The University Of Missouri School Of Law On Koster’s New Policies: “By Limiting Campaign Contributions From Attorneys, Clients, And Lobbyists, These New Rules Positively Address The Appearance Of Governmental Conflict-Of-Interest.” [KMWU, 11/19/14]