The office of Gov. Kay Ivey is working to halt the release of “confidential materials” and “privileged documents” related to a lawsuit filed against the Alabama Department of Transportation by a Baldwin County toll bridge company.
Filed in Montgomery Circuit Court last fall, the lawsuit alleges that ALDOT Director John Cooper had a “personal vendetta” against Baldwin County Bridge Company LLC. The lawsuit also alleges Cooper set out to financially hurt the company by, among other things, moving forward with the construction of a new bridge to Gulf Shores, just west of the company’s toll bridge known as the Foley Beach Express.
Last week, Will Parker, the general counsel to Ivey’s legal office, presented a proposed $50,000 contract for securing attorneys to a joint legislative committee during a contract review meeting. The $50,000 would be used to recruit legal services from the Maynard Cooper & Gale law firm for the purpose of ensuring “protection of privileged information” related to the lawsuit.
“We’ve got a contract with Cooper and Gale to assist our office in discovery-related matters, the protection of certain confidential materials, and litigation matters including this bridge case out of Baldwin County,” Parker told a joint committee.
“The director of transportation has tried to help find some solutions to decongestant traffic down there. He’s wanting to build a bridge, and in the course of making this decision and litigating this case, this company has tried to seek some privileged documents, not only from the director of ALDOT, but also from the office of the governor, and so we felt like it was important to get some help on a very quick, short-term basis.”
The joint committee hearing the proposed government contracts does not have the authority to approve or deny said contracts, rather, its authority is limited to placing a hold on contracts for up to 45 days for further review. The general purpose of the meeting is to allow the general public to be informed on new and ongoing government contracts.
Following the meeting, Rep. Chris Pringle, R-Mobile, said that just as state legislators have attorneys to protect the release of their own internal and external communications, he believed the governor had a right to protect her own through the aid of legal services.
“I agree that the governor ought to have the right to have an attorney review it the same way the attorneys represent us in those issues, and the courts can figure that out,” Pringle said. “That’s not my job to figure it out, my job is to let them hire the attorneys to work it out in court.”