DAGA Download – April 16
April 16, 2021
ON THE TRAIL
VA ENDORSEMENT CORNER
Virginia AG Mark Herring was endorsed by Emgage PAC and the American Muslim Women PAC. Emgage PAC National Organizing Director and Virginia Executive Director Mohamed Gula said, “From leading the charge against Trump’s hostile Muslim ban, to consistently pushing for social changes that benefit our communities, Attorney General Herring doesn’t shy away from the tough fights.” The Muslim Women PAC President Mirriam Seddiq highlighted AG Herring’s “excellent track record” and said, “He’s never been afraid to center women of color in his advocacy for social reform, and continues to be accessible to women in the Muslim community. There is no better candidate for attorney general than Mark Herring.” Following their endorsement, AG Herring said “Last year, I was proud to stand tall and defend the civil liberties of Muslim Virginians when they were being attacked by Trump’s hostile, unconstitutional mandates, and I will always make sure our policies center their voices. Together with these dynamic organizations we will achieve many more victories over the next four years.”
MODERNIZING THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
District of Columbia AG Karl Racine led a bipartisan coalition of 20 Democratic Attorneys General in urging Congress to provide federal funds for state systems and technology upgrades needed to seal and expunge criminal records. The federal funds could help nearly 70 million Americans to clear or expunge records of arrest or conviction. AG Racine said, “An old criminal record shouldn’t be a life sentence, especially for those who have turned their lives around … We desperately need to modernize our justice systems. Implementing thoughtful ways to clear records would make the criminal justice system more efficient, more cost-effective, and most importantly, more just, helping expand opportunities for millions of Americans and their families.” You can read the full letter here.
TAKING ACTION AGAINST HATE
District of Columbia AG Karl Racine led another bipartisan coalition of 35 Attorneys General in urging Congress to pass the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act which would provide state and local governments and law enforcement agencies with the tools and resources to understand, identify, and report hate crimes, and ultimately help prevent them. This is not the first time Democratic AGs have taken action against hate crimes. All 25 Democratic AGs spoke out on the rise in hate crimes towards the AAPI community in March. Connecticut AG William Tong said “I thank our federal delegation for their strong leadership in combatting hate, and particularly Senator Blumenthal who led introduction of the NO HATE Act in the Senate. We need a strong state and federal partnership to report these hate crimes so that we can investigate and bring justice to all affected communities.” Read the full letter here.
STANDING UP FOR DC STATEHOOD
District of Columbia AG Karl Racine led a coalition of 24 Democratic Attorneys General in refuting the misguided arguments from a group of Republican Attorneys General who sent a letter to congressional leaders with inaccurate legal arguments against the District’s statehood. The follow-up letter sent by Democratic AGs called on Congress to pass H.R. 51 and S. 51, legislation that would make the District of Columbia a state, following the House Committee markup of the bill. AG Racine said “Today, it’s encouraging that legislation to make the District a state took an important step forward. The right to participate in our democracy shouldn’t be partisan – yet in these partisan times, it sadly has become just that.” Read the full letter here.
AN ADVOCATE AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE
Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro has continued to be a major actor in the fight against gun violence. In mid-March, AG Shapiro led a coalition of 18 Democratic AGs in calling on the U.S. Attorney General to close the loophole in the ATF’s interpretation of the federal Gun Control Act. Just last week, President Biden announced a half-dozen executive actions focused on curbing gun violence, including the regulations on “ghost guns” that AG Shapiro had previously called for. This week, AG Shapiro once again was an advocate for stronger regulations and spoke to MSNBC about the importance of background checks and other actions he is taking. In the conversation he said, “It’s a choice we’re making … some are making to do nothing in this country. I refuse to accept that and that’s why we’re leading on this ghost gun issue and many other issues to try and keep people safe.” Watch the full video here.
UPDATE: MAKING IT RIGHT
Virginia AG Mark Herring announced that he has hired three former capital/public defenders as part of his efforts to expand his new Conviction Integrity Unit. In January, AG Herring launched the Conviction Integrity Unit to identify and overturn wrongful convictions in Virginia. In his announcement, AG Herring said “A wrongful conviction denies someone not only their freedom but indefinable opportunities and the ability to choose their own path in life – it is a wrong that can never be fully righted, but we must try.” AG Herring continues to fight for civil rights, one of the core pillars of his legacy as Attorney General of Virginia.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
President Joe Biden nominated former Democratic New Jersey AG Anne Milgram to lead the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Once confirmed, she’ll be the fourth former Democratic AG to hold a senior leadership role in the Biden Administration.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
DAGA Co-Chair Massachusetts AG Maura Healey joined Senator Elizabeth Warren to talk about student debt in front of the Senate Banking subcommittee. Watch the full video here.