It's bad enough that S&P has to go and defend itself against what it says are completely meritless allegations with regard to its totally up-and-up, if not-always-in-the-ballpark-of-accurate, credit ratings. But it'd really prefer not to have to hire local counsel in Denver, Des Moines, Hartford and 14 other remote hellholes that the states that are suing it insist on using as their seats of government.
"Congress has expressly found credit ratings and the management of potential conflicts of interest related to them to be 'of national importance,' " S&P said in a filing Monday in an Iowa district court.
In addition, S&P contends that it should have to defend itself against only one merged case. It cites words and phrases that repeatedly popped up in state suits against the rating firm, most of which were filed in February.
"This case is one of nearly twenty virtually identical cases—fourteen of them filed the same day—brought by a coordinated group of state attorneys general against [S&P] arising out of the exact same alleged conduct," S&P's lawyers wrote in the Iowa court filing.
Alas, a ratings agency's conspiracy is a state attorney general's competency.
In a filing Monday, Iowa prosecutors criticized S&P for insinuating "darkly that state officials have coordinated among themselves with their enforcement." State attorneys general have worked closely together, which is "effective law enforcement," the Iowa prosecutors said….
In February, the U.S. Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit in federal court in Los Angeles alleging that fraudulent ratings by the firm caused federally insured banks and credit unions to suffer losses on mortgage-related investments.
Most of the state-court suits were filed the next day, and some attorneys general flanked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at a news conference in Washington. U.S. prosecutors are seeking more than $5 billion in damages from S&P, while state officials want to collect at least that much in their lawsuits….
Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said the state's suit against S&P "should be in state court because we are seeking to enforce state law…not federal law, and therefore there is no federal jurisdiction."