Stephanie Mencimer

Stephanie Mencimer

Reporter

Stephanie works in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. A Utah native and graduate of a crappy public university not worth mentioning, she has spent the last year hanging out with angry white people who occasionally don tricorne hats and come to lunch meetings heavily armed.

Full Bio | Get my RSS |

Stephanie covers legal affairs and domestic policy in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. She is the author of Blocking the Courthouse Door: How the Republican Party and Its Corporate Allies Are Taking Away Your Right to Sue. A contributing editor of the Washington Monthly, a former investigative reporter at the Washington Post, and a senior writer at the Washington City Paper, she was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2004 for a Washington Monthly article about myths surrounding the medical malpractice system. In 2000, she won the Harry Chapin Media award for reporting on poverty and hunger, and her 2010 story in Mother Jones of the collapse of the welfare system in Georgia and elsewhere won a Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.

California Won't Be Suing its Way to Cleaner Air

| Wed Sep. 19, 2007 10:42 AM PDT

Last year, the California attorney general made headlines by suing most of the nation's leading automakers for contributing to global warming. The AG's office used a novel interpretation of the state's "public nuisance" laws to bring the suit and had corporate America in fits. Well, they can rest easier now. A federal judge tossed the suit yesterday, saying that it would be inappropriate for the court to wade into this sort of foreign policy and interstate commerce issue, and that global warming would be better addressed in the political system.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Worm Poop Threatens Corporate Profits

| Wed Sep. 19, 2007 10:01 AM PDT

Some of the nation's biggest corporations have found that baseless lawsuits are often a useful tool for squashing upstart competition. The latest example of this kind of noxious behavior comes from Scotts Miracle-Gro, a $2 billion company that claims 60 percent of the nation's garden-care market. Earlier this year, Scotts sued the tiny New Jersey start-up TerraCycle, which sells fertilizer made from all-natural worm poop, packaged in recycled soda bottles. Scotts alleges that TerraCycle has copied its packaging design and engaged in false advertising.

TerraCycle was started by college students and has never made a profit, but has made in-roads into some of the bigger retail outlets. Apparently Scotts sees the worm poop as a threat. TerraCycle has fought back mainly with PR. They've put up a cheeky website that notes that the Scotts CEO gets a half-million dollars worth of "personal aircraft use" each year, while TerraCycle's CEO's biggest perk is unlimited free worm poop. The website also has some funny photos comparing the two companies' headquarters.

The PR has helped boost sales, but it's not likely to pay TerraCycle's legal bills. Scotts has demanded every last piece of paper from the company in discovery--everything from plans for future product development to the worm's dinner menu--as a way of driving up the costs of litigation. In the meantime, TerraCycle is asking its customers to write letters to the Scotts board asking the company to drop the lawsuit--and also is taking donations.

(H/T Law and More)

Another Big Democratic Funder Headed to the Big House

| Tue Sep. 18, 2007 9:19 AM PDT

Looks like the Democratic presidential candidate, whomever it is, will be running without the deep pockets of famed plaintiff lawyer Bill Lerach. Lerach is a California securities class action lawyer whose name has struck fear in the hearts of corporate executives for years thanks to his success winning some enormous cases, including a $7 billion settlement from companies that helped Enron hide its wrongdoing.

His crusades against corporate wrongdoing have made Lerach something of a folk hero in certain quarters, and he's won friends in high places for plowing his winnings into Democratic politics. Just in 2004, Lerach's law firm donated more than $1.5 million to 527 groups like the AFL-CIO's Coalition to Defend the American Dream that worked to defeat President Bush. Before the ban on soft money, Lerach and his partner, Melvyn Weiss, donated millions of dollars to Democratic Party entities.

That reliable spigot of campaign funding is likely to dry up now that Lerach has agreed to plead guilty to a criminal conspiracy charge stemming from a seven-year federal investigation. Prosecutors charge that Lerach and his firm paid more than $11 million to people to be plaintiffs in their shareholder lawsuits. Lerach could spend up to two years in prison as a result of his plea. Even if he gets to hang on to most of his money, it's unlikely that many candidates are going to want to take it...

AOL Sucks

| Tue Sep. 18, 2007 7:49 AM PDT

When AOL built its new corporate headquarters outside Washington D.C. a decade ago, the company set off an explosion of poorly planned exurban sprawl. By plopping its campus in the middle of nowhere and miles from any public transportation, AOL helped overwhelm local highways with commuter traffic that's now among the worst in the nation and spurred the overdevelopment of the formerly bucolic horse country of Loudoun County, Virginia.

County officials offered AOL lots of tax breaks to come and create this smog-choked mess, but now, the company's top executives have decided that they'd rather be somewhere more interesting. The tech company announced yesterday that AOL's senior management would be fleeing its dreary Dulles office park for the better bagels, pizza and public transportation of New York City. Of course, the execs say that it's because they need to be closer to the advertising business. But I think the rich guys at the top simply hate the very life-sucking suburbs they helped create as much as the rest of us do. Before AOL's entire upper tax bracket decamps to Madison Avenue, Loudoun County should ask for its money back.

Bush to Poor Kids: We Want You to Have Health Insurance. We Just Don't Want You to Know About It.

| Mon Sep. 17, 2007 1:23 PM PDT

Over the past six years, President Bush has proven pretty definitively that he was just kidding when he once claimed to be a "compassionate conservative." But his opposition to providing health insurance for impoverished and working class kids might rank as an all time low, even for him.

The administration has actively opposed reauthorization of the State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), a highly successful Clinton-era initiative that extended health insurance to families who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to buy private insurance. The plan enrolls some 7 million children. In attempting to put a lid on the program, the administration already has banned states from using federal money to cover kids who are above 250 percent of the poverty line, which many had begun to do.

Bush officials have argued that the states hadn't yet enrolled enough eligible poor kids in Medicaid to justify extending government aid to better off families. But now, the administration is trying to prevent states from doing just that--signing up more eligible kids.

On Aug. 31, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed a new regulation that would ban states from using federal funds to enroll poor kids for Medicaid or SCHIP if the work takes place in a public school. Not surprisingly, some states have found that the single best way to sign up lots of kids for Medicaid is to do outreach through their schools. If the new rule is approved, those programs will all but disappear, leaving thousands of kids without access to the health care they're already entitled to. Read more about the new reg here.

Tue Dec. 3, 2013 4:55 AM PST
Tue Sep. 17, 2013 10:32 AM PDT
Tue Aug. 27, 2013 8:12 AM PDT
Wed Jul. 31, 2013 1:01 PM PDT
Tue Jul. 23, 2013 9:36 AM PDT
Fri Jul. 19, 2013 9:54 AM PDT
Tue Jun. 18, 2013 3:30 AM PDT
Mon Jun. 10, 2013 3:30 PM PDT
Tue Apr. 30, 2013 9:29 AM PDT