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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
Family: Patrick Byrnes - Husband Rebecca and Lucy Byrnes - daughters
Occupation: Illinois Attorney General
Education: B.A. in Government, Georgetown University, 1988; J.D., Loyola University School of Law, 1994
Civic involvement: I am a member of National Association of Attorneys General, the Illinois Women's Institute for Leadership (IWIL) executive board, and the Chicago Network. For additional information on recognition I have received for my service as Attorney General, please see: http://lisamadigan.org/Meet-Lisa/recognition
Elected offices held: Illinois State Senate (1998-2002) Illinois Attorney General (2003-Present)
How would you streamline your office's duties to save the state money?
Throughout the fiscal crisis, I have reduced the office's reliance on general revenue funding while ensuring we generate critical state revenue and effectively advocate for Illinoisans. The office operates with less general revenue funding than it has received since 1997. Yet, I have created a housing counseling unit to help struggling families keep their homes and established the Public Access Counselor's Office to help people access public records. Additionally, I have generated nearly $1 billion per year in state revenue. Last year, I generated more than $32 dollars in state revenue for every general revenue fund dollar the office received.
What is something the office could be doing now that it isn't?
The Attorney General must identify threats to Illinoisans' financial security and take action to protect people. When the mortgage foreclosure crisis began, I worked to hold big banks accountable for fraud, recovering $2.5 billion for homeowners. With identity theft increasing, I created a unit of experts to help people repair their credit, assisting more than 35,000 victims to remove more than $26 million in unauthorized charges from accounts. As more Illinoisans deal with high student debt, I am investigating and suing for-profit colleges for defrauding students, investigating Sallie Mae for abusive practices, and suing companies falsely promising loan repayment assistance.
What in your background makes you qualified for a specialized office like this?
I will continue to stand up, speak out and fearlessly fight for the people. I have achieved unprecedented financial recoveries for the state and the people, including more than $10 billion in state revenue, $2.5 billion for homeowners, and $144 million for the state's pension systems. I have prosecuted public officials and recovered funds lost through Medicaid fraud and public contracting fraud. I lead the task force charged with protecting children from sexual violence, resulting in arrests of more than 790 predators and an unprecedented number of arrests of individuals for trading images of sexual violence against infants and toddlers.
Should the attorney general be involved in looking into wrongdoing of public officials?
I have used all the tools of my office, and created new ones, to fight public and private corruption. I initiated the State's investigation of Governor Blagojevich and have prosecuted public officials, including a sitting democratic state representative and democratic State's Attorney. I fought to prevent Governors Ryan and Blagojevich from collecting public pensions, prosecuted public contracting fraud and am suing pharmaceutical companies for inflating state prices, recovering more than $262 million.I have led the nation in tackling private corruption as part of the foreclosure crisis, recovering $2.8 billion for homeowners, communities and pensions.
What would you support to encourage more open government?
As Attorney General, I have significantly increased the office's role in enforcing our most important government transparency laws â€" FOIA and the Open Meetings Act. I established the first-ever Public Access Counselor in the office to help the public obtain government information. As part of this work, I fought to make the Blagojevich administration disclose federal subpoenas to the Better Government Association. I led the legislative effort to strengthen the sunshine laws and, under these laws, my office now receives more than 3,400 requests annually from Illinoisans seeking help to access government information and fight the state's culture of secrecy.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
The Attorney General is the state's chief consumer advocate, fighting to protect the financial security of all Illinoisans. As Illinoisans have struggled through the recession, I have taken action against banks and recovered $2.5 billion for homeowners, recovered more than $2 billion in unfair charges for utility consumers, and cleared more than $26 million in illegal charges from identity theft victims' accounts. As more Illinoisans deal with significant student loan debt, I am helping them by investigating and suing for-profit colleges for defrauding students, investigating Sallie Mae for abusive practices, and suing scammers that falsely promise loan repayment help.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
I am inspired by Nelson Mandela. I was a volunteer teacher in South Africa during apartheid, where I witnessed his success liberating black South Africans.
What's the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
Work hard and be honest.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
I wish I had not smoke cigarettes in college.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
English was my favorite subject and in South Africa, I taught English, algebra, science and history.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Get the best education you can.