Attorney general race is clash of ideologies

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Three candidates with sharp ideological differences are running for Connecticut attorney general in a campaign that has seemed largely subdued with few TV ads and no outside money pouring in.

Incumbent Democrat George Jepsen, 59, of West Hartford, is seeking a second term in next Tuesday’s election. He’s touting his efforts to protect consumers from data breaches and his work with his state and federal counterparts to hold corporations accountable for wrongdoing, including a $25 billion federal-state settlement in 2012 with the nation’s five largest banks over alleged mortgage foreclosure abuses.

Republican Kie Westby, 63, of Southbury, said the attorney general’s office has been contributing to an anti-business climate in the state with unnecessary and highly publicized litigation, a claim Jepsen denies. Westby said he would push state officials to rescind stricter state gun laws passed after the Newtown school massacre and roll back federal Common Core education standards, saying they’re both unconstitutional.

Green Party candidate Stephen Fournier, 69, of Hartford, said one of his priorities as attorney general would be to sue the federal government, which he accuses of abusing its power by waging wars without formal declarations of war.

Jepsen and Westby raised enough campaign cash from individuals to qualify for more than $800,000 apiece from the state’s publicly funded elections system, while Fournier has pledged not to raise or spend more than $1,000. Jepsen is the only one running TV ads.

The Connecticut attorney general’s office deals only with civil litigation. It has more than 200 lawyers and a budget of $29 million, but generates hundreds of millions of dollars a year for the state.

Jepsen, a former state Senate majority leader, said he wants to continue protecting consumers from illegal business practices, protecting businesses from unscrupulous competitors and scrutinizing utility rate increases.

“I think the average citizen and the average honest business needs someone who can be more than just a voice, somebody who’s up there banging the table,” Jepsen said. “They need someone who has the resources and background to be a true legal advocate on their behalf.”

Westby is a lawyer and former Marine reservist who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2010 and the U.S. Senate in 2012. As attorney general, he said he would work to reach settlements with businesses without going to court.

“I want individuals and businesses to follow the law, but I don’t want to make a public spectacle out of their mistakes,” Westby said.

Fournier, a retired lawyer, wants to call for an investigation of 9/11 because he said he doesn’t have enough information to conclude that the U.S. government wasn’t somehow involved. He also accused the federal government of abusing its power by waging war without declarations, detaining people without due process and running mass surveillance.

“The big problem in the state and the country is corrupt authority,” Fournier said.

 

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