Connecticut Attorney General Dick Blumenthal has just been rated the second-worst state attorney general in America by the Competitive Enterprise Institute in its recent study, The Nation’s Worst State Attorneys General. If the ratings had considered only lawsuit abuse, he would have been ranked #1. (In the 2007 ratings of the The Nation’s Top Ten Worst State Attorneys General, Blumenthal was rated the #1 worst attorney general in America. Blumenthal hasn’t gotten any better since then, but the competition has gotten fiercer.)
Yesterday, legal commentator Walter Olson (who runs Overlawyered, the world’s oldest law blog, which federal courts have cited) linked to a draft of the study showing Blumenthal being rated as #3, just behind Oklahoma’s Drew Edmondson. Olson humorously noted that “at only #3, Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal demands a recount.”
In a sense, Blumenthal now has his recount. Additional information about Blumenthal, such as his mistreatment of small-business owners, pushed Blumenthal ahead of Edmondson in a photo finish, leaving Blumenthal at #2, and Edmondson close behind at #3.
Rated #1 was California’s Jerry Brown, the nation’s worst state attorney general.
All three of these state attorneys general got an “F” in each of the four judging criteria — (1) ethical breaches and selective application of the law, (2) fabricating law, (3) usurping legislative powers and (4) predatory practices.
But picking which one was worst overall was difficult because each of these three was worse than the two others in at least one critical respect. Edmondson is probably the worst state attorney general in terms of contempt for civil liberties. Brown is by far the worst state attorney general in terms of failure to perform basic attorney general job-duties like defending the state and its laws against lawsuits.
The next three state attorneys general in the list of worst state attorneys general — Rhode Island’s Patrick Lynch, West Virginia’s Darrell McGraw, and Vermont’s William Sorrell — fared slightly better. Although they, too, received dismal marks, they each got at least one grade that was not an “F”. (Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell even got a “C” alongside his two Fs and one “D.” These lenient marks triggered a protest from a Vermont think tank, which e-mailed me this morning to say that CEI “must have some kind of soft spot for Sorrell. . . he ought to be tied for worst.”)
Here are the worst AGs’ report cards:
1. Jerry Brown, California: F,F,F,F
2. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut: F,F,F,F
3. Drew Edmondson, Oklahoma: F,F,F,F
4. Patrick Lynch, Rhode Island: D-,F,F,F
5. Darrell McGraw, West Virginia: D-,F,F,F
6. William Sorrell, Vermont: C-,D-,F,F