State attorney general asks court to throw out tobacco lawsuit
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -- The state attorney general asked Orange County's Superior Court Commissioner on Tuesday to throw out a challenge to a voter-approved initiative earmarking most of the county's tobacco settlement funds for health care.
In a brief court appearance, Attorney General Bill Lockyer asked Commissioner Jane Myers to dismiss the lawsuit that claims Measure H, which passed overwhelmingly in November, is unconstitutional.
Measure H puts at least 80 percent of the county's $950 million tobacco settlement into health care programs for the poor. The county's Board of Supervisors wanted to use 60 percent of the money in various public health programs and dedicate the remainder to reducing the county's bankruptcy debt.
The county named the measure's most vocal advocate -- J. Brennan Cassidy, the past president of the Orange County Medical Association -- in its lawsuit.
But Lockyer told the court, the lawsuit "arrogantly disregarded" the will of the people.
"The county, is in my view, abusing its power in suing a private citizen to try to stop implementation of the voters' will, which was overwhelmingly adopted," he said after the court appearance.
Myers was expected to issue a ruling on the request by Feb. 14.
The county will receive $28 million in tobacco settlement money this fiscal year and as much as $35 million in annual installments over the next quarter-century.