We are days away from Election Day. On Tuesday, voters will cast their ballots for the candidate of their choice for Illinois governor and local representatives. One major race to watch that voters will weigh in on: Illinois Attorney General. Democrat Kwame Raoul and Republican Erika Harold both have their eye on replacing Lisa Madigan as the state’s top lawyer. Morning Shift sat down with attorney Erika Harold to dive into what her top priorities would be as AG, and opened the phone to listeners to pose their own questions.
On wanting to 'take the politics out of the office' of AG
I think we need an attorney general that will be more focused on fighting public corruption during the course of this campaign. I've talked to people on both sides of the aisle who want to see the attorney general take a more proactive role in addressing issues of public corruption. I also think that the state would benefit from someone who would take the politics out of the office and serves as more of an independent voice within that office, making sure that they’re fighting for the people’s interests as opposed to political interests. I also think that my background as somebody who comes from outside the political process would give me a greater ability to be able stand up and hold both parties accountable.
On her top three priorities if she were elected
Fighting public corruption is a top priority, also making sure that the office of statutory responsibilities are fulfilled in an efficient and fair way. And that’s important because there are a lot of important functions that the attorney general serves that there are backlogs right now within that office. One example: the Charitable Trust Bureau; most people don’t realize that is part of the attorney general’s office [and] there’s a backlog there. There’s also a backlog in the Public Access Council Bureau, which is part of the attorney general’s office, and that’s a very important office because it enforces compliance with the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act. And many people will seek advisory opinions with the attorney general about potential ways in which the public body has not complied with the Open Meetings Act or has not given proper disclosure of documents and making sure that timely opinions are rendered to requesters is really important because those sunshine laws are very integral to helping the public fight public corruption from occurring in the first place.
On whether or not she would continue the probe into Rauner's response to Quincy's Legionnaires' crisis
The political affiliation of the governor—or whoever wins the election—would have no bearing on how I would handle any charges that come out of the grand jury. Without knowing specifically what the attorney general’s office is looking at or investigating, I don’t want to speculate about what the grand jury might be doing. But I do want to say that I think it’s important for us to be evaluating how those issues were handled. So I think it was absolutely appropriate that the General Assembly did an investigation and that the Auditor General did an investigation, because if there are ways that we can better protect people’s safety and health, then we absolutely should do that.
The difference between her and opponent Kwame Raoul
A couple of key distinctions. [...] I’ve identified fighting public corruption as a key priority. Sen. Raoul said it would not be something he would elevate as a top priority. And I would be somebody who would seek to hold both parties accountable; during the course of this campaign, I've highlighted ways in which I would stand up against the federal government if I thought it was exceeding the scope of its discretion. And I’m not somebody’s who has been part of what’s happened in terms of state government; he’s been there for the past 14 years, and so you can evaluate his record. My record has been outside of government, and I think that better equips me to stand up and be a check on both parties.
LEARN MORE: Lawyer Erika Harold On Her Run For Illinois Attorney General (WBEZ 2/5/18)
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire interview.