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CEI Reveals The Nation’s Worst State Attorneys General 2015

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From noteworthy ethical and legal breaches, including violating the Constitution, fabricating legal norms, usurping legislative powers, hiring campaign contributors as outside counsel on a contingency-fee basis, to suing businesses over conduct occurring outside their own states, six state Attorneys General (AG) earned a place on the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s list of The Nation’s Worst State Attorneys General 2015.

In the full paper released today, author Hans Bader of CEI explains:

“Historically, the job of a state AG is to act as the state’s chief legal advisor, charged with defending the state in court and giving legal opinions to officials on pending bills and policies. In some instances, AGs are also empowered by state legislatures to enforce specific laws and assist district attorneys in prosecuting serious crimes. But increasingly, state AGs are ignoring these basic obligations and meddling in areas traditionally outside their purview.

Six of these AGs are repeat offenders and have overstepped their bounds, betrayed the trust of the citizens of their states, and in some cases violated the law. These public servants must be held to the standard which their office requires, not perpetuate cultures of corruption within their office.”

The following have earned a spot on this year’s list of the nation’s worst state AGs:

  1. Kathleen Kane, Pennsylvania
  2. Jim Hood, Mississippi
  3. Tom Miller, Iowa
  4. Kamala Harris, California
  5. William Sorrell, Vermont
  6. Eric Schneiderman, New York

Utilizing the following criteria, Bader highlights how each of these six AGs has violated the public’s trust and deserve scrutiny.

  • Ethical Breaches and Selective Applications of the Law. Using campaign contributors to bring lawsuits. Using the AG’s office to promote personal gain or enrich cronies or relatives. Favoritism towards campaign donors and other uneven or unpredictable application of the law.
  • Fabricating Law. Advocating that courts, in effect, rewrite statutes or stretch constitutional norms in order to make new law—for example, seeking judicial imposition of new taxes, regulations, or restrictions on private citizens’ freedom to contract—or making up regulatory requirements out of thin air.
  • Usurping Legislative Powers. Bringing lawsuits that usurp regulatory powers granted to the federal government or other state entities, or that are not tied to any specific statutory or constitutional grant of authority.
  • Predatory Practices. Seeking to regulate conduct occurring in other states—for example, preying on out-of-state businesses that have not violated state law and have no chance of remedy at the polls.

You can read The Nation’s Worst State Attorneys General 2015 here.

To schedule an interview with Hans Bader, senior attorney at CEI, contact Mary Beth Gombita, 202-331-2770, marybeth.gombita@cei.org.