Name: Pat Quinn
Office seeking: Attorney General
City of residence: Chicago
Campaign website: www.quinnforillinois.com
Why are you running and why should you be nominated? I have pursued the public interest throughout my life and wish to continue that work. I have the knowledge, experience and independence to protect the rights of Illinois residents and businesses. Over the course of my career, I have litigated public interest cases before the Circuit Court, Appellate Court and Illinois Supreme Court; evaluated thousands of pieces of legislation as Governor; practiced before administrative bodies including the Illinois Commerce Commission; won reforms in election law cases; taught tax law at Chicago-Kent College of Law for 24 years; represented hundreds of homeowners and businesses in property tax matters; judged thousands of property tax appeals; and reviewed the record and analyzed thousands of clemency petitions. I also have studied many public policy issues. In every position, I have displayed independence, often taking controversial positions that were the right thing to do, such as leading the statewide petition drive that ended the century-old practice allowing legislators to receive their entire annual salary on their first day in office. Unlike some of my opponents who have accepted contributions from the tobacco, gaming and utility industries, I will never accept campaign contributions from industries that the Attorney General must oversee. I also have advocated for open primaries. I do not believe that Democratic Party insiders should be slating candidates before voters have an opportunity to cast their votes. During the course of my career, I have gotten to know people throughout the state and to understand their concerns. I lived in Metro East in the early 1970’s and visited there on many occasions when I served as Governor and Lt. Gov. When I was Governor, I launched numerous projects in the area to improve infrastructure and create jobs, including: construction of the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge; renovation of the Science Center building at SIU Edwardsville; and construction of an early childhood center at Southwestern Illinois College, various projects at Lewis & Clark Community College, and a new interchange on I-64 near Scott Air Force Base. I also have worked on many projects to help veterans, servicemen and women, and Gold Star families.
What do you view the role of the attorney general's office to be in terms of law enforcement? The Attorney General is the state’s chief law enforcement officer. He or she must vigorously prosecute parties that violate the laws that protect consumers, workers, the environment and market competition; utilize the tools available to the Attorney General’s office to fight corruption; and seek new laws when necessary to protect the public interest. The Attorney General must also pursue reform of the criminal justice system to ensure that all people in Illinois are treated fairly and that the public is safe.
How would you view the relationship between the attorney general's office and state's attorneys in each county? The Attorney General and states attorneys must work closely to challenge wrongdoing and to ensure that limited prosecutorial resources are used in the most efficient way possible. In particular, the Attorney General should partner with states attorneys to prosecute corrupt public officials and take a leadership role when requested by state attorneys as currently allowed by law. I also believe that state law should be amended to expand the authority of the Attorney General’s office to investigate and prosecute corruption, since the Attorney General’s authority in this area is currently limited.
What is the most important issue facing the attorney general's office? How would you approach it? First and foremost, the Attorney General must promote ethics and transparency in state and local government. I have pursued these objectives throughout my career:
--As Governor, I successfully advocated for legislation to raise ethical standards for elected officials, state employees and lobbyists; strengthened the Freedom of Information Act and vetoed efforts to weaken disclosure rules; and instituted new whistleblower protections. I also insisted that casino gaming legislation include tough ethics requirements.
-- As State Treasurer, I proposed both the Illinois Whistleblower Protection and Reward Act, which incentivizes members of the public to report wrongdoing to the Attorney General, and the Inspector Misconduct Act which prohibits state inspectors from soliciting campaign contributions from persons they regulate.
-- As a Commissioner on the Cook County Board of Property Tax Appeals, I declined political donations from attorneys who practiced before the Board. If I am elected Attorney General, I will vigorously enforce the FOIA and Open Meetings Act, prosecute ethics violations, and seek additional legislation to promote ethical conduct.
What other issues would you focus the attorney general's office on? I also will emphasize the following areas if elected Attorney General:
• Consumer and Privacy Rights. I will protect the rights of consumers. We need to ensure that utilities, insurance companies, financial institutions, platform monopolies and other business enterprises treat their customers fairly. I spearheaded the creation of the Citizens Utility Board, and am particularly concerned about ensuring that utility companies act in the public interest. I also will protect privacy rights, which are at serious risk as companies collect the personal information of their customers and share that information in ways that are not disclosed, and will vigorously enforce the antitrust laws.
• Criminal Justice Reform. The Attorney General must be a leader in improving the quality of justice in Illinois. If elected, I will work with local officials, judges and other members of the bar to reform the system of criminal justice. Packing our prisons with non-violent offenders is bad policy: it drains taxpayer money and diverts resources from programs that could actually deter people from committing future crimes. Mass incarceration, wrongful convictions and unequal justice should be a concern of all Illinois citizens.
• Healthcare. In 2013 I signed legislation to bring the benefits of the Affordable Care Act to Illinois. The legislation expanded healthcare coverage to hundreds of thousands of Illinois residents and also brought $12 billion of federal funding to the state. As Attorney General, I will protect access to healthcare and hold accountable pharmaceutical companies and others who are responsible for the opioid epidemic which is harming families across Illinois.
• Workers Rights. During my tenure as Governor, I worked to expand job opportunities and to increase the minimum wage. In 2009, I advocated for and then signed a $31 billion capital bill – the largest capital bill in the nation – to jumpstart the Illinois economy following the Great Recession and to create thousands of jobs. I will continue to advocate in these areas and utilize the tools available to the Attorney General to protect workers against wage theft and pregnancy discrimination. I also will vigorously enforce the Equal Pay Act.
• Environmental Protection. Article XI of the Illinois Constitution establishes the fundamental right of every person to a healthful environment. As Attorney General, I will aggressively enforce the environmental laws, prosecute polluters, and advocate for new laws when necessary to address threats to the environment.
• Violence and Gun Safety. I will lobby the General Assembly to pass common sense gun safety laws and will partner with law enforcement agencies to prosecute serious gun law violations.
• Human Rights. When I served as Governor, I pursued and signed the landmark legislation establishing marriage equality. I also signed unprecedented legislation requiring schools to implement policies to combat bullying (including cyberbullying), and signed legislation to fight against human trafficking. As Attorney General, I will challenge unlawful discrimination and harassment whenever it appears.
What are your views on the legalization of marijuana debate? I support legalization of recreational marijuana so long as strict requirements are put in place to regulate its production, distribution and retail sale in order to ensure that health and safety are protected, avoid corruption and ensure that applicable taxes are paid. When I was Governor, I signed the bill to legalize medical marijuana.