Democratic attorney general candidate Stumbo wants to fight opioid epidemic, questions qualifications of Republican candidate
The race for Kentucky attorney general is one of the most hotly contested elections of 2019. While Kentuckians closely watch the governor’s race, many view this year’s attorney general race as the first real chance for a Republican to take that office in more than 70 years.
Republican newcomer Daniel Cameron is going head-to-head with Democrat Greg Stumbo, who was elected to the office of attorney general in 2003 and served in legislative leadership for many years. Both candidates sat down with The Bottom Line to discuss the race, their priorities, and what they expect in the coming weeks.
Below is the interview with Democrat Greg Stumbo, a native of Prestonsburg, Kentucky who served a four-year term as attorney general from 2004-2008 before returning to the legislature and becoming Speaker of the House in 2009. He lost his re-election race for the state House in 2017. Stumbo currently practices law as a partner with Morgan & Morgan.
VIDEO BELOW: When asked why he decided to run for the office of attorney general again after his last term finishing in 2008, Stumbo said his driving motivation is the opioid crisis in Kentucky. Stumbo noted Kentucky was the first state to sue Purdue Pharma when he was attorney general and said he wants to finish the work he started on this issue.
“I think I am uniquely situated to prosecute those cases because of my longstanding involvement trying to do something about the opioid epidemic from attorney general to state legislator to private attorney. And I think I am uniquely qualified, I’m not bragging or being bolsterous, because of my background and because of the passion that I have because this has affected my family like it has affected a lot of families in Kentucky and I want to see those people brought to justice,” Stumbo said. “Hopefully that will bring some closure and hopefully some resources to start digging our way out of this opioid epidemic. And I hope they use that money for treatment, education, and prevention.”
As for how he would work with either Republican Matt Bevin or Democrat Andy Beshear, Stumbo said he would hope the relationship between the two offices would be good. Discussing the grand jury investigations into the administration of Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher that Stumbo undertook when he was in the office of attorney general beginning in 2004, he stated he did not go looking for that case and said when someone disobeys the law, it is the job of the attorney general to stand up and fight regardless of political party.
On other political aspects of the office, many laws passed by Kentucky’s legislature in recent years have been contested by current Attorney General Andy Beshear for different reasons. For example, Attorney General Beshear contested the 2018 pension reform bill arguing it was unlawful due to the procedure used to pass it. While the practice of passing bills with new language in the final days of the legislative session and other tactics have been used for many years, these types of lawsuits had not been prevalent until Republicans gained control of the state House, Senate, and governor’s office while a Democrat was in the office of attorney general.
Stumbo noted during his time in the General Assembly, many of the same tactics were used but lawsuits were not filed. As for whether or not he would file similar lawsuits against the General Assembly based on procedure and question the legality, Stumbo said if a bill is constitutional, he will defend it whether he personally agrees with it or not. However, he stated he believes Beshear was correct in his decision to sue over recent pension legislation as he feels it was constitutionally flawed.
Experience is what Stumbo highlighted when discussing the differences between himself and Republican Daniel Cameron. He questioned Cameron’s qualification, stating an individual has to have practiced law for eight years in order to qualify to run for the office. Stumbo stated while Cameron’s law license will have been valid for eight years in October 2019, he doesn’t feel Cameron has actually been practicing law for that amount of time, which Stumbo feels would disqualify him (discussion starting at 13:30 in the video below).
Cameron is currently a practicing attorney with Frost, Brown, Todd, LLC and served as legal counsel to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from 2015 to 2017. He practiced law with Stites and Harbison after starting his career serving as a law clerk to a United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
When asked if he expects this race to get nasty in the final weeks with negative ads and other items from the campaigns or outside groups, Stumbo said he absolutely expects the race to turn negative.
Watch the full interview with Democratic attorney general candidate Greg Stumbo below to hear about his motivations for running, how he views the role of the attorney general, his thoughts on Cameron’s qualifications, and much more: