Attorney General Candidates Debate Office’s Role, Conflicts

Attorney General Candidates Debate Office’s Role, Conflicts

CHICAGO (IRN) — Illinois voters will get a chance to pick a new attorney general in November for the first time in 12 years and the major party candidates are arguing how far conflicts of interest laws should go.

The three candidates, Republican Erika Harold, state Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, and Libertarian Bubba Harsy, appeared jointly in front of the Chicago Sun-Times this week.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced in September she wouldn’t seek a fifth term, ending a 16-year stint.

Part of the campaign Republicans are running across the state targets conflicts of interest around lawmakers like House Speaker Michael Madigan’s law firm handling property tax appeals while crafting property tax law.

Harold said the attorney general should highlight where laws should be changed to prohibit certain conflicts. Raoul warned such a move could overreach.

“It hasn’t really been debated in great detail in the legislature, not at all,” Raoul said. “I chair the [Senate] Judiciary Committee.”

“I think if he wanted that debated in the legislature he could have had that debated because he has in fact been in the legislature for 14 years,” Harold said.

Harsy said the property tax conflicts are a scheme and corrupt.

The candidates also discussed the office’s role in providing a check on federal government overreach.

Harold said she wouldn’t hesitate to sue the federal government where she sees overreach. Raoul said Harold needs to address specific issues.

“Does she not support Lisa Madigan and other attorney generals stepping up to protect the Affordable Care Act?” Raoul said. “Does she or does she not support … [efforts] to take on predatory lenders in higher education? Does she or does she not support that?”

Harold did say she agrees with suing the feds to free up federal law enforcement grants. The feds are withholding money over the state’s TRUST ACT, something critics say makes Illinois a sanctuary state.

Harsy said the feds are the ones that have jurisdiction over immigration.

“We can have as many AG guidelines as we want [but] unless the federal government gives us the authority to handle it, we’re not really handling it,” Harsy said. “We can pretend like we’re handling it but we’re not.”

All three candidates said they support legalization of recreational marijuana.

The election is Nov. 6.