* The attorney general candidates met today at the Tribune…
Republican attorney general candidate Erika Harold acknowledged Tuesday that Democratic rival Kwame Raoul’s attack ads have turned the contest into a “referendum” over her views on same-sex marriage and abortion. […]
“The fact that this has become a referendum on views like that tells you why we’re not focusing on the issues where the attorney general can have some sort of discretion and some sort of impact,” said Harold, an Urbana attorney who used her winnings as the 2003 Miss America to pay her way through Harvard Law School.
“My views would absolutely not undermine my obligation, commitment to upholding the rule of law,” she said, contending that Raoul was attempting to stir “fear mongering among voters about trying to undermine their belief in my capacity and commitment to doing so.”
But Raoul, a supporter of abortion and gay rights, said laws can change, making the personal views of an attorney general “relevant.”
She said she considered those topics “settled law,” but, as Raoul noted, laws can always change and the US Supreme Court has lately made a habit of overturning some “settled laws.”
* Raoul campaign…
At a meeting of the Chicago Tribune editorial board today, Kwame Raoul, Democratic candidate for attorney general, focused on his plans to defend Ilinoisans’ rights as the state’s top lawyer. Meanwhile, Republican Erika Harold continued to dodge questions about whether she would use the discretion and the advocacy role of the attorney general to stand up for choice and equal rights, given her extreme views on those subjects.
“Now more than ever, state attorneys general stand as the last line of defense,” Raoul said. “From protecting a woman’s right to choose, to confronting health threats caused by pollution in our communities, to defending equal rights, I’m ready to step up on behalf of the people of Illinois.”
Raoul discussed his record of advocacy and his personal experiences as a prosecutor, policymaker, and father of two.
Harold engaged in misleading attacks while avoiding her own record of extreme beliefs:
* Harold wants voters to trust her to “enforce the law,” though she dodged direct questions that would reveal her positions.
FACT: Personal views absolutely matter, because the attorney general has broad discretion in which cases to pursue. Attorney General Lisa Madigan didn’t have to defend HB 40 against a legal challenge brought by State Rep. Peter Breen, an anti-choice crusader who recently held a fundraiser for Erika Harold. But she did. The people of Illinois also rely on the attorney general to serve as their advocate, working with the legislature to improve the law, in addition to enforcing existing law. Harold is against abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.
* When the editorial board asked Harold if she believes any Supreme Court cases were wrongly decided, Harold could not recall one.
FACT: Even though her recent statements make it clear that she opposes the outcome of Obergefell v. Hodges (marriage equality) and Roe v. Wade (a woman’s right to choose), Harold replied, “I’m not going to weigh in.” Raoul identified Citizens United v. FEC and earlier in the interview, Janus v. AFSCME.
* Harold says Raoul partnered with Madigan to raise property taxes.
FACT: Politifact already examined this claim and rated it “mostly false,” describing it as “cleverly misleading wordplay.” As he told the editorial board today, Raoul served in the Senate, not the House, and the part of the bill that would have allowed Chicago to raise taxes was never included in the Senate version of the legislation, nor did it become law. Rather, Raoul helped pass property tax reforms in 2007, and last year, he co-sponsored the HOME Act (SB 2219), which responded directly to problems identified in the Cook County Assessor’s Office by tamping down conflicts of interest, requiring assessors to publicly disclose their valuation models and establishing oversight of local assessments.
* Harold claimed she did not indicate on a questionnaire that she opposed a law protecting workers from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
FACT: In 2014, Harold answered a questionnaire from the Illinois Family Institute and, according to that organization’s publicly released candidate scorecard, she opposed federal legislation that would protect workers from being fired just because they’re gay. The IFI described the piece of legislation she opposed as follows: “Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) (S. 815) grants special rights based on ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity.’”
I haven’t yet received anything from the Harold campaign.