Unnaturally Political

NR’s eye on the states.

Riedel Up with First Ad


New Mexico Republican Susan Riedel has released her first television ad in the race to become the next attorney general against Democrat Hector Balderas

In the ad, titled “Strong,” Riedel casts herself as a “voice for victims,” citing her experience as a prosecutor and judge.

The ad is not only the first for Riedel, but the general-election race – Balderas has not yet hit the airwaves.

GOP AG Chair ‘Guardedly Optimistic’ about Nov.


Alan Wilson, chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association told me in a phone interview he is feeling “very good” about GOP incumbent attorneys general holding onto their jobs this November.

Of the 25 seats Republicans currently hold nationwide, 17 are up for election this year. On Monday in Tennessee, the state supreme court appointed Republican Herbert Slatery.

Wisconsin, Colorado, and Arizona are the only red states in which the incumbent is not running for reelection. Races in those three are very competitive, said Wilson, South Carolina’s AG.

“We have a great slate of candidates in these states and believe that we will be able to hold just about every red state,” Wilson said. “We are guardedly optimistic about our chances in those three states. We have strong candidates in each that are doing very well in their campaigns.”

With Democrat AGs in Nevada, New Mexico and Arkansas not running again, Wilson is hopeful Republicans can make some inroads.

Wilson told me he is very proud Republicans have women running for AG in New Mexico and Arkansas.

“Right now, Florida is the only state with a female Republican AG,” Wilson said. “We have the opportunity to increase that number to four if Riedel, Rutledge, and Coffman are successful this November.”

Susan Riedel is running in New Mexico, Leslie Rutledge in Arkansas, and Cynthia Coffman in Colorado.

“Over the last six years, the states have lost ground to the federal government and it is the state attorneys general who stand in the delta between the people and the federal government,” Wilson said. Wilson emphasized the critical nature of these elections. “This is why we need strong rule-of-law AGs who will fight in the courts and represent [the people of their states].”

Tags: South Carolina , Wisconsin , New Mexico , Arkansas , Nevada , Colorado , Tennessee , Arizona , Florida


Wisconsin GOP Video Takes Aim at Happ


“Susan Happ: Soft on crime, no respect for victims, wrong for Wisconsin.”

So ends a scathing ad attacking the Democrat candidate for attorney general candidate and Jefferson County district attorney, paid for by the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

The ad focuses on details of an ethics complaint filed against Happ by the victim in a child sexual assault case.

A call to Happ’s campaign for reaction to the video has not been returned.

As I noted last week, Happ signed off on a deal that reduced felony child sexual assault charges to misdemeanor disorderly conduct for a man who had previously bought land from Happ and her husband.

The new ad uses television news reports to flay Happ’s decision not to appoint a special prosecutor in the assault case and her refusal to answer questions about a possible conflict of interest with the accused.

 “Happ’s soft-on-crime approach and glaring conflict of interest demonstrates how she would take the Department of Justice backward,” Wisconsin GOP communications director Lauren Clark said in an e-mail statement. “Wisconsin voters deserve an Attorney General who will fight for victims, not criminals.”

Tags: Wisconsin

Adam Gregg Releases First TV Ad


Iowa attorney general candidate Adam Gregg’s first television ad of the campaign, “Fighting for Iowa,” has him touting his “passion and the energy to fight every single day or Iowa families, Iowa farmers, and our Constitutional freedoms.”

Gregg, a Republican, is facing Democrat Tom Miller, the longest serving attorney general in the country.

Gregg has criticized Miller for accepting campaign contributions from lawyers in the finance, insurance and real estate industries during a time when Miller was actively investigating their role in possible improper foreclosure practices.

Gregg has the support of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad who is polling more than 20 points ahead of his opponent in his reelection campaign.

Tags: Iowa

Bob Cooper Replaced as Tennessee Attorney General


Rejecting incumbent Democrat Robert Cooper, the Tennessee supreme court has selected Herbert Slatery III, the first Republican in state history to serve as the state’s next attorney general, the Tennessean reports.

Slatery, 62, served as Gov. Bill Haslam’s chief legal counsel prior to his appointment to the AG’s office which will become effective immediately.

Cooper has served a single term since 2006. Cooper and Slatery were among six finalists from which the supreme court made its selection.

Tennessee is the only state in the country giving its supreme court the power to choose the attorney general.

Republican Lt. Gov. Rob Ramsey and several conservative organizations challenged the court’s appointment power as a system rigged to favor Democrats.

Conservatives led an unsuccessful campaign to defeat three Democrat justices in last month’s retention election.

With Democrats still controlling the state’s high court, the fate of the AGs office was left “in the hands of judges originally nominated by trial lawyers in an unconstitutional manner,” Grant Everett Starrett, president of Tennesseans for Judicial Accountability said.

Ramsey, however, applauded the court’s selection Monday. “Slatery will be a strong advocate for the people of Tennessee and a vigilant defender of Tennessee’s conservative reforms,” he said.

The Republican Attorneys General Association also released a statement shortly after the announcement congratulating Slatery on his appointment.

“We are very pleased by the appointment of Mr. Slatery. His previous experience in private practice coupled with his current role as legal counsel to Governor Haslam will make the transition to Tennessee Attorney General seamless,” RAGA chairman and South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said.

RAGA also notes that with the selection of Slatery, Republicans now hold 25 attorney general seats across the country.


Tags: Tennessee


Former Arizona AG Ends Speculation


Former Grand Canyon State attorney general Grant Woods told me Friday afternoon that he has no plans right now to endorse either Republican Mark Brnovich or Democrat Felecia Rotellini for his old job.

“I have no plans to endorse at the moment,” Woods told me in an exclusive phone interview. “Right now, I am very active in the governor’s race. I care a lot about the attorney general race, but I don’t need to be involved with them all.”

Woods told me his decision not to endorse isn’t absolute.

“I don’t want either one attacked personally,” he said. “If I started seeing either side running a campaign that is super unfair, maybe I will change my mind.”

As I noted earlier today, Woods endorsed Rotellini in 2010 in what turned out to be a failed bid for AG.

He told me today he had hired both of them for different jobs under his jurisdiction while he was attorney general. He said that has not changed his opinion of Rotellini since his endorsement last time around.

“Nothing has changed in that regard.” Woods quickly added: “I also think Mark is a good lawyer, he has had a nice career thus far, and if elected he would do a nice job.”

He emphasized: “I have nothing but positive things to say about either of them.”

I asked Woods if he was concerned that staying silent on the race, given his past endorsement of Rotellini, might imply support for Brnovich.

“I understand that concern, and I know that is something [Rotellini] is concerned about. But, if anyone asks me about that, I will tell them the same thing I told you.”

Tags: Arizona

Where In The World is Grant Woods


During the 2010 race between GOP candidate Tom Horne and Democrat Felecia Rotellini, former Arizona AG Republican Grant Woods bucked his party and endorsed Rotellini.

Rotellini lost to Horne, but is back in 2014 facing Republican Mark Brnovich. But while Woods has endorsed Democrat Fred DuVal for governor, he has made no endorsement for attorney general.

So, where does Woods stand on Rotellini? It’s unclear and increasingly becoming a matter of speculation. I have a call to into his office that has not yet been returned.

“I can’t imagine that he won’t come out with an endorsement for Rotellini,” Laurie Roberts, columnist for the Arizona Republic, told me in a phone interview. “If he endorsed DuVal, why not endorse [Rotellini]? I think it is just all about timing.”

“She needs independent and moderate republicans to win, and a Woods endorsement would certainly help her with those voters,” Roberts said.

Rotellini could use a Republican endorsement because political operatives her in the state tell me she is seen as “a rubber-stamp for the Obama administration.” Obama lost Arizona by nine points in the last election.

Woods’ silence was amplified by the announcement last week from Arizona’s longest serving attorney general, Republican Bob Corbin, endorsing Brnovich.

If Woods sits this race out should voters imply he is supporting Brnovich? Roberts isn’t convinced voters would get the nuance.

That doesn’t meant the Brnovich camp won’t use his lack of endorsement to their benefit. Or, suggest the endorsement of Rotellini by Woods and others in 2010 were more about not supporting Tom Horne.

For now both sides will have to settle for speculation in what is shaping up to be a tight race.

Tags: Arizona

Bondi Outpolling Opponent


Florida attorney general Pam Bondi is leading her Democrat opponent, George Sheldon, by 8 points in a poll released by Public Policy Polling. Bondi, current AG, is showing a lead with 43 percent of voters, while Sheldon only pulls 35.

Tags: Florida

New Poll Shows Schuette Pulling Ahead in Reelection Bid


A recent poll on the Michigan attorney general race shows GOP incumbent Bill Schuette leading his Democratic opponent Mark Totten 40-38 with 21 percent of voters still undecided. The Detroit News also reports that Schuette has a name-identification advantage with voters. “More than 76 percent of respondents to the poll said they have never heard of Totten. About 60 percent of likely voters surveyed could identify Schuette by name.”

Tags: Michigan

Clean Elections Commission Concludes Wrong Doing


According to the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission, Arizona attorney general Tom Horne has “used $312,239.78 worth of state employees’ time and office space on his reelection campaign,” the Arizona Republic reports. Tom Collins, executive director of the commission alleges that the Horne campaign was implementing a structure “where the responsibilities of campaign staff reflected the Executive Office of the Attorney General’s Office.” Horne lost his reelection battle in last month’s primary election against challenger Mark Brnovich.

Tags: Arizona

Susan Happ’s Spellcheck Mishap


Earlier today, the reelection campaign for Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin sent  out an e-mail with a fairly benign typo.

“Mary Burke’s No So Good With Other People’s Money.”

Notice anything?

Clearly, the headline should read, “not so good,” but it’s an easy enough mistake to make.

However, the Democratic group One Wisconsin Now, took notice of the typo and decided to poke fun at Walker over it.

Certainly a humorous comeback, but what happens next is even funnier.

Susan Happ, the Democrat candidate for Wisconsin attorney general attempted to tweet her followers that she has received the endorsement of United Wisconsin, another progressive grassroots organization in the state.

Unfortunately, she told them this instead:

No word yet on Twitter from One Wisconsin Now on Happ’s proofreading capabilities.

The lesson here? It is unlikely anyone from Wisconsin will be crowned spelling bee champion anytime soon.

UPDATE: The Happ campaign appears to have deleted the tweet since this posting. 

Tags: Wisconsin

Tuesday AG News Round-up


Former United States attorney general Ed Meese spoke with Genevieve Wood of the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal about “the most lawless administration in the history of the country.” Meese goes on to say that he believes the greatest protection of Constitutional limits on the president are members of Congress who will only take action “when they understand the people are behind them.”

The Republican Attorneys General Association is planning a $1.2 million Arizona television ad buy, the Arizona Republic is reporting. No word from RAGA about the content of the ad. The news comes on the same day Democrat candidate Felecia Rotellini began running her first ad in the race against Republican Mark Brnovich.

Pam Bondi, Republican attorney general of Florida, is out with a new television ad focusing on her fight against drug abuse in the state. Her opponent, Democrat George Sheldon, called it “a solid ad,” and comments, “I think that’s a remarkable accomplishment. I’m very pleased that Pam is articulating that issue,” the Tampa Tribune reports.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette earned the endorsement of the Michigan Retailers Association in his reelection race against Democrat Mark Trotten. This endorsement is added to an expanding list which includes the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the Michigan Fraternal Order of Police and the Partnership for Michigan’s Health, to name a few. Trotten’s endorsements come primarily from unions including the SEIU Michigan State Council, as well as the Sierra Club and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan.

Tags: Arizona , Florida , Michigan

Riedel Outraises Opponent


The Republican attorney general candidate in New Mexico, Susan Riedel, has outraised her Democratic opponent, Hector Balderas, the campaign announced in a press release this afternoon.

Riedel reports raising more than $92,000 in the period from June 29 to September 1 and has nearly $200,000 cash on hand. While Balderas reports only raising $70,000 for the same period, he does show a sizable cash on hand advantage over Riedel with $822,000.

“New Mexicans are hungry for leadership from the Attorney General’s Office,” Riedel said in an e-mail statement.  “They are looking for someone committed to putting an end to political corruption, and someone with the skills and experience necessary to reduce the incredibly high levels of violent crime in the state.”

Balderas’ campaign hasn’t release anything about his fundraising numbers today. While the candidates have largely avoided attacking one another, focusing mostly on the importance of public safety and the role of an attorney general, Riedel has criticized her opponent as a “career politician” given the 10-year period since serving as a prosecuting attorney.

If Riedel, who has the support of popular GOP Gov. Susana Martinez, wins the general election this November, she will be the first Republican elected attorney general in New Mexico since 1987.

Tags: New Mexico

Rotellini Releases First TV Ad


Felecia Rotellini, Democrat candidate for Arizona attorney general has released her first television commercial of the general election.

According to sources, the television ad buy is more than $135,000, with the vast majority of that being spent in the Phoenix media market.

The ad, titled “High and Dry,” makes no mention of Rotellini’s opponent, Republican Mark Brnovich, and features a supporter discussing how Rotellini’s work as prosecuting attorney helped her recover savings lost in the largest non-profit bankruptcy in U.S. history, the Baptist Foundation of Arizona scandal involving what the ad calls “a complex ponzi scheme” in which 11,000 investors were taken for more than $570 million.

With less than two months to go before Election Day, the ad attempts to paint a positive picture of Rotellini and appeal to voters free of any explicit partisan identification or talk, which is becoming common practice for the Rotellini campaign.

Tags: Arizona

Monday AG News Round-up


Michigan attorney general, Republican Bill Schuette, is entering the fall election cycle with four times as much cash on hand advantage as his Democrat opponent, Mark Trotten, and has outraised him 12-1 The Detroit News reports.

The race to become Wisconsin’s next AG is quickly turning into a finger-pointing game about who is tougher on crime, despite Democrat Susan Happ’s half-hearted memo requesting otherwise.

Mark Brnovich, Republican candidate for Arizona AG has racked up the highly-coveted endorsement of former attorney general Bob Corbin.

Keeping the topic in the news, a letter-writer to the Las Vegas Review Journal calls the unauthorized leaking of documents from Nevada AG candidate Republican Adam Laxalt’s former law firm a “grossly unfair and misleading tactic.” 

Tags: Michigan , Wisconsin , Arizona , Nevada

Friday AG News Round-up


Republican incumbent attorney general Luther Strange is running for reelection in Alabama against Democrat Joe Hubbard. As ABC affiliate WNCF reports, while the race may be closer than many think, “Hubbard has to overcome being a Democrat.” Sounds a similar challenge faced by the Democratic candidate for AG in Arizona.

As I noted yesterday, Wisconsin Democrat Susan Happ asked media outlets to avoid the temptation of cherry-picking cases (despite doing so herself) to scrutinize her in her race against Republican Brad Schimel. It appears at least one group is choosing to follow Happ’s actions and ignore her words.

Ken Paxton, GOP candidate for attorney general in Texas, has earned the endorsement of the Texas Business Association.

Bill Schuette, Republican Attorney General of Michigan, has announced the National Federation of Independent Business’ PAC has endorsed his reelection bid.

Tags: Alabama , Wisconsin , Texas , Michigan

Dem AG Candidate Happ: Do As I Say, Not As I Do


Wisconsin attorney general candidate, Democrat Susan Happ, is fighting back against reports of the handling of a child sexual-assault case involving a man to whom Happ and her husband sold property.

In a memo released on Happ campaign stationary, the Jefferson County District Attorney said it is “dangerous” for Brad Schimel, her GOP opponent, to question her handling of cases because he “has plea bargained and reduced charges in hundreds of cases himself” since 2006 as Waukesha County District Attorney.

“So the records are there,” the memo continues. “They’re all public. And both sides could fire these missiles off every day. That’s not what we want this campaign to be about.”

The memo concludes:

Susan Happ wants to focus on who is best equipped to represent the citizens of Wisconsin as the people’s lawyer, who is more attuned to their needs and wants and who can better represent them, protect their rights and keep them safe.  That’s what she intends to talk about between now and the election.  We would invite her opponent, his supporters, and the news media to join her.

Happ is arguing two things: Both she and Schimel are district attorneys, whose offices have handled thousands of cases during their time as prosecutors and each has their share of controversial cases an opponent could make a campaign issue. And, the campaign for AG should not be about cherry-picking cases.

But at the same time the Happ campaign is doing exactly what it is asking Schimel not to do: Cherry-pick cases. In 2007, prior to reporting to jail after his third operating while intoxicated (OWI) conviction, a man killed a pregnant woman and her 10-year-old daughter while committing his fourth OWI offense.

The Happ campaign memo contends the failure of Schimel’s office to tack on a prohibited alcohol concentration (PAC) charge to the man’s third offense was leniency that contributed to the death of the mother and daughter.

State law at the time, however, prohibited that PAC charge from being filed. Schimel’s office asked for and got the maximum 75-day sentence allowed under law.

“Ms. Happ’s inexperience has shown through once again, Schimel campaign manager, Johnny Koremenos, says, “as she apparently doesn’t understand Wisconsin law, which states a defendant cannot be sentenced with both an OWI and PAC charge.”

Happ wants a selective scrutiny of her record off-limits, while at the same time subjecting her opponent to selective scrutiny of his. This sounds like a classic case of do as I say, not as I do.

Tags: Wisconsin

‘Criminals Posing as Public Servants’


The New York Republican Party has launched an ad calling Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Gov. Andrew Cuomo “criminals posing as public servants.”

The ad criticizes the Democrats for shutting down the Moreland Commission which they established last year to investigate state government agencies and departments.

After the commission began looking into a media-buying firm hired to purchase airtime for Cuomo’s campaign, Cuomo and Schneiderman disbanded the commission, the New York Times reports.

Republican AG candidate John Cahill’s campaign has been heavily focused on the controversy.

In a press release, which accompanied the release of the ad, GOP chairman Ed Cox alleges:

Eric Schneiderman:

 Squashed Moreland subpoenas to donors;

Aided and abetted the sexual harassment of young women in the legislature;

Fought and won the parole of a convicted rapist;

Lied about freedom of information requests regarding email exchanges between himself and his political consultant;

Solicited campaign contributions from individuals under investigation;

Broke the law leaking sensitive information to the press regarding an arrest;

And was even involved in a hit and run.


Schimel Announces Plan to Tackle Human Trafficking


During a call with local and national media, Brad Schimel, Republican candidate for attorney general in Wisconsin announced a plan to combat human trafficking in his state.

“Human trafficking is modern day slavery for the women and girls trapped in its web and has powerful links to drug and violent crime,” Schimel said during the call. “It’s real. It’s here and I will continue to confront it as Attorney General.”

Schimel has previously released three other policy proposals on addressing Internet crimes against children, heroin and opiate abuse and the university of Wisconsin Hygiene Lab backlog of drug testing.

The campaign notes that their opponent, Democrat Susan Happ, has not made any such policy proposals.

Tags: Wisconsin

In a Surrender States’ Sovereignty State of Mind


New York’s attorney generalwants to force other States to adopt the energy policies that are one of the big reasons New York is an economic basket case.” Myron Ebell, director for the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute comments here on Eric Schneiderman’s decision to file a motion to intervene in a 12-state court challenge to a 2011 settlement agreement made between the Environmental Protection Agency and environmental groups that would force states to regulate carbon emission from coal-fired plants within their jurisdictions.

Eleven other state attorneys general joined him in the motion.

Earlier this year, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, along with AGs from 11 other coal-reliant states sued the EPA over the settlement. Morrisey argued the rules change would have “devastating effects on West Virginia’s jobs and its economy.”

Schneiderman’s motion disputes Morrisey’s claims and asks that the implementation of the EPA rules not be delayed.

“From extreme droughts to extreme storms, we’re already seeing impacts associated with uncontrolled climate change across the country – and we must rise to meet its challenge with all the urgency it demands,” Schneiderman maintains.

Morrisey and other opponents to the new EPA regulations contend that while states may have differing opinions on federal policy, the rule of law should prevail.

Reporting on the legal arguments, the Los Angeles Times explains:

The plaintiffs said the EPA entered into a settlement agreement in 2011 with environmental groups and states allied with them to regulate existing coal-fired utilities under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. That section is the basis for the rules the Obama administration proposed in June.

The plaintiffs argue the settlement and subsequent regulations are illegal because power plant emissions are regulated under a different part of the Clean Air Act.

“We recognize that states may have different policy goals regarding the emission of carbon dioxide, but hopefully every state can agree that regulations should only be issued in a lawful manner,” Morrisey said in an e-mail statement issued yesterday. “We believe that the proposed carbon dioxide rule is illegal and will ultimately be defeated in the courts.”

He also likens the regulation to a “power grab” in which “affordable electricity prices, American jobs, and maintaining the reliability of our power supply are at stake.”

In response to Schneiderman’s new motion, Morrisey has requested an expedited briefing on his lawsuit.

Whatever happens in the courts, the Empire State’s attorney general can be counted among those willing to surrender efficient – and Constitutional – state governance to federal meddlers.

Tags: New York , West Virginia


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