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The Latest: Committee cancels lawsuit meeting with Kaul

September 4, 2019

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Latest on the fight between Republicans and Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul over settling lawsuits (all times local):

1:40 p.m.

Republicans who control the Legislature’s finance committee have scuttled a meeting with Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul on whether to settle a handful of lawsuits.

Republicans passed a law in a December lame-duck session that requires Kaul to get the committee’s permission before settling lawsuits. But Kaul won’t discuss any settlements unless committee members sign non-disclosure agreements. He says confidentiality is a key part of many settlements.

The committee’s attorney, Andrew Phillips, signed a confidentiality agreement on the panel’s behalf last week. The committee had planned to meet with Kaul on Wednesday afternoon to discuss settling seven lawsuits.

But Kaul said Wednesday he wasn’t happy with the agreement because he feels it doesn’t bind individual members to remain silent.

The committee’s co-chairman, Rep. John Nygren, announced about an hour and a half before the meeting with Kaul was set to take place that the two sides wouldn’t get together thanks to Kaul’s opposition to the agreement. Nygren says the next move is up to Kaul.

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12 p.m.

Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul says he’s not satisfied with a confidentiality agreement Republicans have signed to allow discussions on lawsuit settlements to proceed.

Republicans passed a law in a December lame-duck session that requires Kaul to get the Legislature’s finance committee’s permission before settling lawsuits. Kaul won’t discuss any settlements unless committee members sign non-disclosure agreements.

Republicans hired attorney Andrew Phillips last week to sign a confidentiality agreement on the committee’s behalf. Kaul’s office has questioned whether the agreement applies to every committee member.

State Justice Department officials met with Phillips Wednesday morning. Asked about developments at the meeting, department spokeswoman Gillian Drummond said there’s still no reason to think the agreement binds members and Kaul doesn’t think it’s sufficient.

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