DAGA Download – April 23
April 23, 2021
Accountability for George Floyd’s murder was achieved this week. Minnesota AG Keith Ellison led his team in successfully prosecuting former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. A New York Times article highlighted the important role AG Ellison had in achieving guilty verdicts in the Chauvin trial. AG Ellison was “deeply involved in just about every aspect of the case, from preparing witnesses to weighing in on jury selection.” In response to the conviction AG Ellison said, “I would not call today’s verdict justice … [b]ecause justice implies there is restoration. But it is accountability, which is the first step toward justice.” DAGA Co-Chairs Massachusetts AG Maura Healey and Nevada AG Aaron Ford said, “Today, there was accountability for George Floyd’s murder. But the work for justice continues. Democratic AGs stand in solidarity with people across the country who are fighting to bring equity and fairness to the justice system.” Read their full statement here.
BONUS: AG Ellison’s role in the Derek Chauvin trial has once again shed light on the importance of electing Democratic AGs. Read more on how the AG’s role demonstrates the important need for Democrats to increase their investment in state Attorney General races for years to come here.
Rob Bonta made history as the first Filipino-American to hold the position of California Attorney General when he was confirmed by the California State Legislature. DAGA Executive Director Sean Rankin said, “We are thrilled to officially welcome Rob Bonta into our room here at the Democratic Attorneys General Association. AG Bonta’s proven track record of fighting for justice and equity—whether it be criminal justice and immigration reforms, environmental justice, or economic justice—without a doubt meets the moment.” Read more congratulatory statements on AG Rob Bonta’s historic appointment here.
REFORMING THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
In the wake of the guilty verdicts in the Chauvin trial, DAGA Co-Chairs Massachusetts AG Maura Healey and Nevada AG Aaron Ford called on the U.S. Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. “The Act would grant State Attorneys General the authority to step in and hold local law enforcement agencies accountable under federal civil rights laws. We need that power to play a bigger role,” they said. Colorado AG Phil Weiser on CNN also expressed the need for state AGs to have that authority saying, “it’s important that we have accountability—that’s how we build confidence in our police force.”
SUPPORTING PUBLIC HOUSING FUNDING
New York AG Tish James led a coalition of 14 Democratic AGs asking Congress to increase the funding for the nation’s public housing system as part of President Biden’s infrastructure plan. The letter sent by Democratic AGs highlighted that the currently allotted $40 billion is insufficient to address the years of neglect and underfunding towards the nation’s public housing systems. DAGA Co-Chair Massachusetts AG Maura Healey who co-signed the letter said, “We urge Congress to do right by the American people and increase funding to address the massive need in our communities right now.” Read the full letter here.
Democratic AGs have continued to take action in preventing the sales of fraudulent or blank COVID-19 vaccination cards. A bipartisan letter signed by 42 Attorneys General was sent to OfferUp, an online mobile marketplace, urging them to monitor their platform for ads and links that sell blank or fraudulent card, take down such ads and links, and preserve records and information on ads and individuals engaged in such sales. DAGA Co-Chair Nevada AG Aaron Ford warned, “Nevadans, making these fake cards is illegal and could put our entire health and safety plan at risk. Please be wary of misinformation and file a complaint with my office if you come across any scams related to COVID-19.” Read the full letter here.
FIGHTING FOR ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
In recognition of Earth Day, DAGA highlighted the important roles Democratic AGs play in combating the climate crisis, defending clean air and water protections, and fighting for environmental justice. Democratic AGs took nearly 500 actions during the Trump administration and have continued their efforts during the Biden-Harris administration. Electing state Attorneys General who believe in protecting our planet, addressing climate change, and pursuing environmental justice is not only an imperative, but is also what the majority of people across the country want. Learn more about Dem AGs’ actions to protect the environment here.
ON THE TRAIL
VA ENDORSEMENT CORNER
Virginia AG Mark Herring announced a wide array of support for his re-election.
- AG Herring was endorsed by gun violence groups Giffords and Brady PAC. Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords said, “Mark is a proven leader that has taken on the NRA, closed gun loopholes, and sponsored commonsense background check legislation in the General Assembly.” Brady PAC Executive Director Brian Lemek said, “As a lifelong gun violence prevention advocate, I have never encountered a public servant more committed to ensuring the safety and welfare of the citizens in the commonwealth.”
- AG Herring was endorsed by key gun violence prevention activists. Andy Parker said, “Mark has been a champion for common sense legislation like red flag laws and background checks, cracked down on gun-runners, and sued in court to block the sale of untraceable 3D guns. We need his experience in the office of Attorney General.” Andy Goddard said, “Attorney General Herring has an unbeatable track record when it comes to pushing for gun safety legislation, and has always been accessible to our communities.”
- AG Herring was endorsed by the Members of 32BJ of the Service Employees International (SEIU), who represent 7,000 frontline janitors and airport workers. 32BJ SEIU Vice President Jaime Contreras said, “His efforts to ensure that contracted workers are paid livable wages will greatly improve the lives of men and women hit hardest by COVID and wage inequality.”
- AG Herring was also endorsed by AFSCME, SMART, and UFCW Local 400. Learn more about what the presidents of these unions said in their support for AG Herring here.
RAGA: “TURMOIL” AND “CHAOS”
Georgia AG Chris Carr announced that he is stepping down as Chair of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA). In his letter, he wrote that “the fundamental difference of opinion began with vastly opposite views on the significance of the events of January 6”. This announcement comes after last week’s reporting by the Alabama Political Reporter highlighted possible investigations underway regarding RAGA and Republican AGs’ roles in the deadly January 6th insurrection. Notably, Republican AGs continue to avoid disclosing the truth. For more on RAGA and Republican AGs’ involvement in the January 6th rally turned deadly insurrection and their repeated attacks on democracy, check out this comprehensive timeline here. Read more about the “turmoil” and “chaos” here.
BONUS: RAGA promoted an architect of the January 6th events, Pete Bisbee, to be their new Executive Director. Prior, Bisbee was executive director of RAGA’s policy arm – the Rule of Law Defense Fund – which sponsored the January 6th “Stop the Steal” rally and paid for robocalls promoting the event that told attendees, “At 1 p.m., we will march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal.” Shortly preceding this hire, RAGA’s Finance Director also announced her resignation.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Cannabis reform is criminal justice reform, and that is why Virginia AG Mark Herring is fighting to legalize cannabis in the Commonwealth of Virginia.