The three major party attorney general candidates are sparring over how much of an "activist" the attorney general should be.
The three candidates, Incumbent Democrat Bill Sorrell, Republican Jack McMullen and Progressive Ed Stanak have very different views about the kinds of legal cases that the Attorney General’s office should be involved in.
Stanak says the office should be less concerned with signing onto national lawsuits and instead should devote more time and attention to what he called "economic justice" issues.
"I would apply them probably more in behalf of the 99 percent. One issue that I feel the public have an expectation is economic justice," said Stanak. "And what happened on Wall Street in 2008 reaches right into East Overshoe in Vermont and I’m sort of amazed that there’s been non investigation of criminal wrongdoing by the six major banks all of whom are registered to do business in Vermont. So I’m not sheepish or bashful about pursing that kind of stuff on behalf of the public interest."
Sorrell defended the actions of his office. He pointed to the state’s role in the national tobacco legal settlement and he says it’s critical to use the limited resources of the attorney general in the most cost effective way.
"There is an ongoing investigation led by the New York and California AGs," said Sorrell. "And the last time I talked with the California AG she had 35 staff assigned full time to this investigation and I have 75 or 76 lawyers total for all of the work that we have. My anti-trust unit is one lawyer."
Meanwhile, Republican Jack McMullen said he thinks it’s a mistake for the Attorney General to get directly involved in any policy questions.
"I don’t adventuring in a non policy shop with activism to try and set policy is a good approach," said McMullen There’s plenty to do with the laws we have without adventuring to the outer limits of the those laws to try to set policy. That’s a Legislative function."
The three candidates did agree on one issue. They all opposed the creation of a special independent inspector general to review cases where there have been allegations of excessive force by law enforcement officers. The three candidates said this is a role best left in the attorney general’s office.