Attorney General Candidate
Questions & Answers
|For the November 2018 Election|
What is the importance of the Illinois Attorney General to your constituents in Champaign County?
The issues constituents in Champaign County face are largely the same as those faced by all Illinoisans; high property taxes, expensive health care costs, and corrupt government officials. To tackle these problems, there are three ways in which I would like to serve the people of Champaign County:
Prosecuting Government Corruption
What we need in Champaign County, as well as the rest of the state, is government accountability. The people of Illinois need an Attorney General that is actually going to prosecute government corruption, and I am that Attorney General. No matter where accountability needs to take place, it must happen. It is the only way to fix Illinois!
Furthermore, the people of Champaign County, as well as Illinois, need someone who is unafraid to resolve the pension crisis through constitutional means. The Illinois Constitution prohibits the unlawful grant of special privileges by the government to people or organizations. In my opinion, many of the pensions given out to government retirees more closely resemble special privileges than pensions. Pensions make mathematical sense, based on what was originally invested into a retirement fund, combined with the returns on the original investment. That is not what we see with Illinois state government retirees.
It is currently common practice for a government retiree to pay less than 5% of the money that goes into their retirement, and when the market does not provide the return on investment needed for these over promised retirements, taxpayers are forced to foot the bill. That is a special privilege. When something is drastically underfunded, ultimately resulting in taxpayers paying for someone’s retirement. We have a special privilege problem, not a pension problem.
Advocating for the Purchase of Health Care Across State Lines
I would also fight for individuals in Champaign County, and all across the nation, to be able to purchase health insurance plans across stateliness. This has historically been banned in the United States since 1945 via the McCarren-Ferguson Act. Purchasing insurance plans across state lines was briefly allowed via the Affordable Care Act, but that was short lived. Pursuant to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, I believe it is a person’s constitutional right to associate with business organizations across state lines if they choose, and that a state does not have the right to limit this in order for them to maintain a monopoly on insurance companies. Once individuals can purchase healthcare plans across stateliness, there will more competition in the insurance market and costs will go down for the consumer. I will be a vocal proponent of this reform.
Why are you qualified to be the Illinois Attorney General?
I graduated from Southern Illinois University with my major in Political Science and my minor in Philosophy. I then continued my education at American University, where I earned my law degree. I passed my bar exam, and have most recently opened my own private practice. I also have experience in the Maryland State Senate, the United States Department of Education, and the United States Senate. I worked at a law firm in Washington D.C. prior to coming back to Illinois and starting a solo practice where I handle administrative, civil, and criminal matters. However, I am most qualified to be the Illinois Attorney General because I am not afraid to go after government corruption, regardless of whose toes I have to step on throughout the process.
My opponents have more experience practicing law than I do, but I do not believe that makes them more qualified. Illinois has a history of Attorney Generals that have experience, but were obviously not qualified because they did nothing to fix Illinois’ corruption problem; that is what this job entails. In 1991 to 1995 we had Democrat Roland Burris, who was later “appointed” to the U.S. Senate seat that Blagojevich was sent to prison for selling. Following Burris, we had Republican Jim Ryan who apparently missed everything that would result in George Ryan being sent to prison. Currently, we have Lisa Madigan who has done nothing to change the status quo. I see my opponents as carrying on the legacy of nice individuals that look very electable on paper, but who at the end of the day are not going to do the job.
The Attorney General’s Office should be used to protect the people of Illinois from their government, not to protect the government from the people of Illinois. I am going to bring that mentality to the Attorney General’s Office. The people of Illinois need an Attorney General that is not afraid to step on the toes of those in power, even if that means going after the Governor, the Speaker of the House, a local mayor, or county board. The corruption in Illinois has to stop, and if elected, I will use the Attorney General’s Office to do just that.
What is a key policy difference between you and your Opponent[s]?
The biggest policy difference I have between both of my opponents is that I am not afraid to call out government retiree pensions for what they are: special privileges. I would strive to use Article I, Section 16 of the Illinois Constitution to nullify unconstitutional special privileges. It is unfortunate that government employees were lied to by our elected leadership as to what is financial feasible in regards to their retirements, but it is not the responsibility of future generations to fund these special privileges.
In the event that government retiree special privileges are nullified; I would encourage other branches of government to provide retirees with some sort of income so they are not left high and dry. Retirees earning five figure retirements would not see much of a change, however the individuals retired making more than the governor of Illinois would see some changes in their yearly payouts, and any retirees making more than $250,000 would see some drastic changes in their yearly payouts.
In addition, General Assembly Members would lose their pensions in their entirety and would be the only government retiree system not receiving some type of new retirement for its members. They are part-time elected officials that are supposed to be providing a service to the people of Illinois and do not deserve lifetime pensions for the services they provide.
Any other information you would like to add for undecided voters in Champaign County?
Another factor in an effort to reduce the cost of healthcare would be for the full legalization of marijuana. I do not believe that strictly “medicinal” marijuana does enough for the people of Illinois, and I believe “recreational” marijuana would ultimately lead to reduced healthcare costs.
Medical patients have been able to replace 5 to 8 prescription drugs with medicinal marijuana. In states that allow easier access to marijuana, there has been significant drops in prescription opioid overdose deaths. By making marijuana legal for recreational purposes, medical patients would be able to grow their own plants and could avoid the expenses of going to a hospital or doctor. Recreational marijuana would allow people the option to grow their own medicine while cutting out the healthcare industry middleman. By cutting out the healthcare middleman, hospitals and insurance companies don’t have to waste time negotiating back and forth over the expense of doctors’ visits, and the consumer is not forced to pay hospitals or insurance companies for these services.
The legalization of recreational marijuana would also create the possibility to release all non-violent inmates that are being held solely on marijuana charges. It costs around $40,000 a year to house a single inmate for marijuana in Illinois and there are close to 1000 people incarcerated for nonviolent marijuana charges in Illinois. Illinois wastes close to $40,000,000 a year housing nonviolent marijuana offenders. We need to get these people out of prison, and use these resources on more important matters facing Illinois.
The Attorney General does not have the power to pass legislation making marijuana legal, but if elected, I will take the position that any future marijuana cases will not be prosecuted, and will work towards the release of nonviolent marijuana offenders from the Illinois prison system.