Pat Quinn: Candidate Profile
Attorney general (Democrat)
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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: Pat Quinn was born in the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago and grew up in Hinsdale. He is the son of Patrick and Eileen Quinn, who were married for 65 years. Patrick served in the United States Navy during World War II. He has two brothers, Tom and John, and two sons, Patrick and David, and has lived on the West Side of Chicago for the past 34 years.
Occupation: Attorney at Law
Education: Georgetown University School of Foreign Service (1971)
Northwestern University School of Law (1980)
Civic involvement: Governor (2009-2015)
Lt. Governor (2003-2009)
State Treasurer (1991-1995)
Elected offices held: Governor (2009-2015)
Lt. Governor (2003-2009)
State Treasurer (1991-1995)
Commissioner of the Cook County Board of (Property Tax) Appeals (1982-1986)
What personal background and experiences particularly qualify you for the role of attorney general?
I bring a lifetime of commitment to pursuing the public interest, and have both the independence and knowledge to best utilize the tools available to the Attorney General. I also would bring to the Attorney General's office the energy and commitment to aggressively challenge unlawful actions of the Trump Administration.
I have litigated public interest law cases before the Circuit Court, Appellate Court and Illinois Supreme Court
evaluated thousands of pieces of legislation
practiced before administrative bodies including the ICC
won reforms in election law cases
represented hundreds of homeowners and businesses in property tax matters
judged thousands of property tax appeals
and analyzed thousands of clemency petitions.
Throughout my professional life, 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 practice allowing legislators to receive their entire salary on their first day in office
pursuing and then signing the law establishing marriage equality
signing the legislation abolishing the death penalty
and insisting that tough ethics provisions be added to proposed legislation authorizing a Chicago casino.
I also have a long record of seeking to raise ethical standards of government officials. As Governor, I successfully pursued legislation tightening ethics requirements. As Treasurer, I proposed the Illinois Whistleblower Protection Act, which incentivizes members of the public to report wrongdoing to the Attorney General. As a Commissioner on the Cook County Board of Tax Appeals, I declined political donations from attorneys who practiced before the Board.
What do you consider the chief responsibility of the state attorney general and how would you conduct the office to achieve it?
The Attorney General's role has three main components:
Â¥Ensure public confidence in state and local government by pursuing ethics and transparency throughout government, by seeking to reform and improve the system of justice, and by proposing new legislation when needed to protect the public.
Â¥Challenge violations of the law, including violations of laws protecting consumers, the environment, human rights (including the right to be free from discrimination), access to health care, and workers rights such as wage theft,
Â¥Represent state agencies, always keeping in mind that the Attorney General's primary responsibility is to vindicate the public interest.
The Attorney General is the chief law enforcement official in the state. It is his or her duty to apply the law fairly and accurately, and in a non-partisan way. Throughout my career I have pursued honesty and integrity in government and respected the rule of law. As Attorney General, I will hire attorneys who embrace these values and require members of my office to apply this philosophy of honest and fair government to all matters that we handle.
Is the office of public information public access counselor important? What should be the attorney general's role in ensuring that state and local governing bodies operate in an open and transparent manner?
Government transparency must be a top priority of the Attorney General.
I have pursued this objective for decades. As Governor I advocated for and signed legislation to strengthen the Freedom of Information and the Open Meetings Act, which included giving additional powers to the Public Access Counselor, and I vetoed legislation that would have weakened the FOIA.
Recently, we all have learned about a particularly troubling example of government failing to operate in a transparent way: the unfair and discriminatory assessments by the Cook County Assessor's office. When I served as Commissioner of the Cook County Board of Property Tax Appeals, I called upon the Assessor to make public the computer-based tools used by his office to assess properties. I continue to believe that this should be done.
If elected Attorney General, I will vigorously enforce the Freedom of Information and the Open Meetings Act. The office of the public information access counselor will play an important role in that effort. If needed, I will seek additional resources to ensure that Requests for Review to that office are processed promptly.
How aggressive should the attorney general be in seeking consumer protections through the courts?
I believe that the Attorney General's office should vigorously enforce the laws protecting consumers.
The Attorney General should use all available tools to ensure that utilities, insurance companies, financial institutions, and platform monopolies treat their customers fairly and in accordance with the law. I spearheaded the creation of the Citizens Utility Board, and am particularly concerned about ensuring that utility companies act in the public interest. Particular attention should be given to areas where veterans are vulnerable.
The Attorney General should also 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.
There is much that the Attorney General can do to protect consumers. He or she must aggressively utilize statutes such as the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, and also the antitrust laws, both to create precedents that can ferret out structural bad behavior and to help individual consumers who have been victimized. The Attorney General also should seek new legislation when needed such as the Geolocation Privacy Protection Act (which Governor Rauner vetoed).
How efficiently do you think the attorney general's office operates currently. What, if anything, would you do to streamline the office?
The Attorney General must continually look for ways to operate his or her office more efficiently. When I served as Governor, my Administration reduced expenses by implementing new technology and reengineering the way that work was performed. At the same time, it is important to invest in the Attorney General's office. Vigorous enforcement of the law adds to state revenues, since the state often receives fines, previously unpaid taxes, and other court awards. Pursuant to the Illinois False Claims Act, when the Attorney General prosecutes fraud committed against state or local government which is alleged by a whistleblower, the Attorney General's office receives a portion of the resulting proceeds of litigation or settlement.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
In addition to promoting ethics and transparency in government and protecting consumer and privacy rights, I will prioritize the following areas:
Criminal Justice Reform. The Attorney General must be a leader in improving the quality of justice. Mass incarceration, wrongful convictions and unequal justice should be a concern of everyone. I am proud of the fact that I signed the legislation abolishing the death penalty in Illinois.
Healthcare. I will protect access to healthcare and hold accountable pharmaceutical companies and others who are responsible for the opioid epidemic.
Environmental Protection. The Illinois Constitution establishes the fundamental right of every person to a healthful environment. As Attorney General, I will vigorously enforce the environmental laws and advocate for new laws when necessary.
Violence and Gun Safety. I will lobby the General Assembly to pass common sense gun safety laws, intervene in federal lawsuits that seek to prevent states and local governments from enacting reasonable gun legislation, and partner with law enforcement agencies to prosecute serious gun law violations.
Human Rights. I pursued and signed the landmark legislation establishing marriage equality. As Attorney General, I will challenge unlawful discrimination and harassment whenever it appears.
Workers Rights. I will utilize the tools available to the Attorney General to defend collective bargaining rights and to protect workers against wage theft, pregnancy discrimination, and harassment on the job.
Protecting Immigrants. I will join with other state Attorneys General who are working to protect the rights of immigrants and oppose President Trump's anti-immigrant policies.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
Pope Francis: "Open your heart to faith and God will do the rest."
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
Service to others is the rent we pay for our place on God's earth. Ã PJ and Eileen Quinn
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
More time with my parents.
Hold your parents tenderly
For the world will seem
A strange and different place
When they are gone.Ã“
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
My favorite subject in school was economics, and thanks to excellent teachers, I learned that economic justice is the foundation of a decent society.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
"I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down at the bottom we, too, should have rights."
Dr. Seuss, Yertle the Turtle