Harold, Raoul differ on how attorney general should fight corruption

  • From left, Republican Erika Harold, Libertarian Bubba Harsy and Democrat Kwame Raoul are candidates for Illinois attorney general.

    From left, Republican Erika Harold, Libertarian Bubba Harsy and Democrat Kwame Raoul are candidates for Illinois attorney general.

 
 
Posted11/2/2018 5:36 AM

Departing Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan earned praise from would-be successors Erika Harold, a Republican attorney from Champaign, and state Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat, for her work to protect consumers.

But while Raoul says fellow Democrat Madigan has been "unfairly criticized" for her approach to combating corruption, Harold says the departing attorney general could have done more to root out the political malfeasance that has dogged Illinois for decades.

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Harold said she will make fighting corruption a priority but says the office needs the investigative tools to do so effectively.

"Unlike many states, the attorney general doesn't have the ability to convene a statewide grand jury and doesn't have generalized subpoena power," said Harold, 2003's Miss America.

Such options would assist the attorney general's pursuit of public corruption and other cases independent of county prosecutors, she said, referring to the Pennsylvania attorney general's investigation of sex abuse allegations against priests.

Raoul doesn't oppose expanding grand jury authority if justified but says the office must have the resources to do so.

Raoul said openness is one of the best deterrents to corruption. He wants more transparency, which he said can be accomplished through the attorney general's public access counselor. The public access counselor assists with Freedom of Information Act requests and intervenes in complaints about lack of access or improperly closed meetings of public bodies.

The public access counselor is "overwhelmed" with requests, according to Raoul, who says he will make sure that department is "appropriately staffed to respond quickly and accurately" to requests.

Harold acknowledges the failure of the counselor's office to respond to requests might have to do with insufficient personnel and other resources. It could also result from foot-dragging, said Harold, who proposes the attorney general issue "more binding opinions" to reduce the backlog.

On his website, Libertarian candidate Bubba Harsy states: "All matters involving government corruption or government employees committing crimes will be looked into." Upon receiving evidence of violations by government officials or employees, Harsy says he will prosecute them with "no exceptions."

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