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Monday, October 27, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - "Florida Attorney General active in faraway court fights"

The ILB has had a number of posts on the Indiana Attorney General filing amicus briefs in dozens of cases outside Indiana, including this post from June 23, 2014.

Here is the ILB's inital post on this topic, from July 27, 2009, headed "Who should decide Indiana's position on national legal issues? Who should know?"

This weekend the Miami Herald ran a long story by Michael Van Sickler that begins:

Earlier this year, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi opposed a ban on certain kinds of semiautomatic weapons.

In Connecticut.

The ban was that state’s response to the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. Bondi and 21 other attorneys general, most of them Republican, filed a brief that argued the ban was unconstitutional.

Bondi’s office didn’t explain the brief. No news conferences. No press release. Nor did she draw attention to signing briefs challenging other gun measures, including a similar ban on semiautomatic weapons in New York, a federal ban on “straw” purchases of guns and a federal law restricting handgun purchases for those between the ages of 18 and 21.

She signed all of these briefs with colleagues from southern and western states that dominate the Republican Attorneys General Association, a political fundraising organization known as RAGA that has contributed $750,000 to Bondi’s $5.5 million reelection campaign.

Since taking office in 2011, Bondi has adopted RAGA’s priorities, recited talking points and joined members’ legal battles far beyond Florida.

A few more quotes from the long story:
In her bid for reelection, Bondi has focused on a get-tough-on-crime message and her record as a staunch defender of victims’ and states’ rights. But none of these “friend-of-the-court” briefs support that or appear to respond to pressing situations in Florida. * * *

Bondi’s office refused to answer whether she consulted with law enforcement before signing the briefs or how they would make Floridians safer. * * *

Guns aren’t the only topic covered in numerous other briefs — many seemingly unrelated to Florida — that reflect how much big money is expanding the scope of AG offices across the country. Since the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision, super PACs like RAGA and its Democratic counterpart (DAGA) can raise unlimited cash from corporations and unions. In passing contributions along to candidates, the groups are further politicizing an office that had been removed from overt partisanship.

“It never crossed the mind of the Supreme Court how Citizens would affect elected prosecutors,” said James Tierney, director of the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School. “That’s one of the worse aspects of that decision. We’re just now seeing the impact.” * * *

RAGA is run by an eight-member attorney general executive committee, including Bondi, and a small policy staff in Washington, D.C. They promote a variety of issues, including opposition to gay marriage, medical marijuana and the “federal overreach” of the Environmental Protection Agency, which has inspired a number of briefs against federal attempts to limit pollution from coal-powered utilities and agribusinesses.

Bondi, 48, is the only female Republican attorney general, and the group’s website prominently features photos and videos of her. * * *

Bondi and her cohorts stress many of the same issues: pill mills, human trafficking, federal overreach. They backed Bondi’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act by helping to pay the state’s initial litigation costs of $250,000.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 27, 2014 09:12 AM
Posted to Indiana Government