Attorney General (DEM)

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  1. Elected offices held and civic involvement


    Illinois State Representative (2013-present); Commissioner - Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform (2015-2016); Assistant United States Attorney (2003-2011); Edgar Fellow (2012)

    • Vice Chair, YMCA of Metro Chicago Board of Managers
    • Member, Woman’s Board of the Art Institute (arts education initiatives/volunteering)
    • Member, Steppenwolf Theatre, Board of Trustees
    • Mentor, University of Chicago Women’s Mentoring Program
    • Mentor, Princeton Alumni Fellowship Program

    33rd Ward Democratic Committeeman


    No elected offices


    Governor of Illinois (2009-2015), Lt. Governor of Illinois (2003-2009), State Treasurer (1991-1995), Commissioner of the Board of (Property Tax) Appeals (1982-1986)


    State Senate (2004-present); delegate to Democratic National Convention (2008, 2012, 2016); board member, International Child Care; board member, Legal Prep Charter School; advisory board, Youth Guidance - Becoming a Man program; steering committee, American Heart Association - Counsel for a Cause

    • Mayor, City of Highland Park, IL (two-terms, 2011-Present)
    • Council Member, City of Highland Park, IL (2009-2011)
    • Precinct 222 Democratic Committeeman (2006-present)
    • Founder and Acting Chair, Highland Park/Highwood Legal Aid Clinic
    • Founder, Community - the Anti-Drug
    • Founder, Leadership Alliance of Lake County
    • Founder, Highland Park Environmental Education Program
    • Founder, Highland Park Human Services Task Force
    • Member, Local Government Advisory Board - Illinois Comptroller
    • Board Member: Planned Parenthood, Highland Park Healthcare Foundation, Northwestern University Women’s Health Research Institute Advisory Board (Chair), Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership (former President), Ravinia Festival Women’s Board; Former Board Member: Lurie Children’s Hospital Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

    Actively involved in many organizations including: Northwest Municipal Conference Legislative Committee, Northwestern University Leadership Council, Personal PAC, Sierra Club, League of Women Voters, and Highland Park-Highwood Rotary


    Appointed and served as:

    • Commissioner, Chicago Public Schools Desegregation Monitoring Commission (1999-2004)
    • Commissioner, Illinois Supreme Court Character and Fitness Committee (1999-2004)
    • Chairman, Illinois State Board of Education (2004-2011)
    • Commissioner, U.S. Department of Education Equality and Excellence Commission (2011-2013)
    • Fellow, Leadership Greater Chicago (2014)
    • Vice-President, Chicago Board of Education (2011 – 2016)
    • Interim CEO, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) for (April – July, 2015)
    • President, Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners (2016 – present)
    • Commissioner, Public Building Commission (2016 – present)

    Civic Involvement:

    • 2nd Vice President, Chicago Bar Association
    • Member, Board of Directors: Metropolitan Planning Council; Rush University Medical Center; Museum of Science and Industry; Chicago Legal Clinic
    • Member, the Commercial Club of Chicago and the Economic Club of Chicago
  2. 1. How will you, as attorney general, work for transparent, accountable, efficient government?


    The Illinois Attorney General should be the state’s primary watchdog. As Attorney General, I will make sure that Illinois no longer outsources this function to the federal government, news organizations and not-for-profit organizations. On Day 1, I will begin transforming the Attorney General’s Office into one that fights corruption on par with the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices throughout the state. Notably, during my over seven years at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago, I successfully investigated and prosecuted public corruption matters and, thus, have experience rooting out and exposing corruption. Moreover, during my time as a state representative fighting against a morally and ethically corrupt Democratic Machine, I have found that the best way to change its behavior is to publicly expose it. Thus, where an investigation will not be jeopardized by making its details public, I will share those details with the public. In this way, we will clean up Illinois once and for all.


    The attorney general has a very important role to play in ensuring that our government is transparent, accountable and efficient. The attorney general, in particular through he work of the office of the public access counselor, works to promote transparency by resolving disputes and addressing requests related to the Freedom of Information Act and the Public Meetings Act. The attorney general, as the top lawyer for Illinois citizens, must ensure that all government entities are fulfilling their obligations for transparency and accountability through timely and accurate reporting. The attorney general must work in collaboration with the legislative inspector general and the executive inspector general on transparency and accountability within the legislature and executive functions. The attorney general can also work to promote efficient government by collaborating with the Illinois Auditor General and by recommending that the legislature authorize audits of state agency programs or activities.

    I have released the most comprehensive anti-corruption plan in the race for attorney general. You can read more details at


    Secrecy leads to a government that is not transparent, accountable, or efficient and increases the opportunities for corruption. As Attorney General, I will fight corruption and create a Public Integrity Bureau whose sole role will be to combat corruption. I will also advocate for more funding for the public access counselor so that they can adequately deal with the backlog of requests made by citizens and the media.


    In Illinois, we have suffered from a culture of corruption, where insiders and special interests benefit at the expense of working families. The only way to change this culture is to shine a light on improper and unethical practice. For that reason, as Attorney General, I would make transparency, accountability, and efficiency high priorities. I would investigate any practice that appears to be improper, unethical or wasteful and issue public reports. The voters have a right to know about what their representatives are doing so they can make informed decisions in the voting booth. Making questionable practices public will also prompt the legislature to change laws and rules in response to the will of the public. To help in this effort, I would establish a Public Corruption task force—including Attorney General staff and outside experts with backgrounds in law enforcement, constitutional law, and government ethics—to establish comprehensive legislative recommendations that would transform the Office of the Attorney General into an independent watchdog responsible to the voters, with the power to issue subpoenas and indictments in criminal corruption matters. I will also work to create public databases that will allow individuals, media and academics access to evaluate information.

    As Attorney General, I would also work toward greater government efficiency in my office. I will conduct a thorough review of office operations and staffing levels in order to maximize the resources that are appropriated to the office. I will work to ensure the Attorney General’s office maintains a responsible budget that aligns with its constitutional mandate and my goals and priorities for the office.


    Government transparency and accountability must be top priorities of the Attorney General.

    I have pursued these objectives throughout my professional life. As Governor I advocated for and signed legislation to strengthen the Freedom of Information and the Open Meetings Act, and I vetoed legislation that would have weakened the FOIA.

    Recently, we all have learned about a particularly troubling example of government failing to operate in a transparent way: the unfair and discriminatory assessments by the Cook County Assessor’s office. When I served as Commissioner of the Cook County Board of Property Tax Appeals, I called upon the Assessor to make public the computer-based tools used by his office to assess properties. I continue to believe that this must be done.

    If elected Attorney General, I will vigorously enforce the Freedom of Information, as well as the Open Meetings Act.

    I also will continually look for ways to increase efficiencies in the Attorney General’s office. When I served as Governor, my Administration reduced expenses by implementing new technology and reengineering the way that work was performed, savings taxpayers millions of dollars.


    The Illinois attorney general has three main roles: to protect (consumers, crime victims, taxpayers, workers and all Illinoisans), to represent (in court when the State is the defendant or plaintiff) and to advocate (for policies that protect the rights and safety of Illinois residents, make their interactions with the justice system fairer and improve their access to open government). Working for a more open government engages the attorney general in all three of that office’s roles. As attorney general, I will work closely with all appropriate authorities to effectively investigate and prosecute public corruption cases so that public servants who abuse their powers are held accountable. I will represent the State as its top lawyer by faithfully answering statutory and constitutional questions submitted to me by the General Assembly and the governor on topics that include the interpretation of ethics and open government law, and I will strengthen the office of the Public Access Counselor so it can perform its duties to the public without delay or backlog. And I will use this statewide office’s bully pulpit to advocate for increased openness and transparency in government, as I did as a state legislator.


    I bring to this office a proven record of promoting accountability, transparency and ethics in government. As a Mayor, I addressed conflicts of interest and appearances of impropriety with new ethics guidelines and increased transparency. I also prioritized access to information by bringing cameras into meetings, enhancing the City’s social media presence, and educating residents about the availability of information. With transparency and easily accessible information, government can gain/regain the public’s trust and better serve the interests of those they are elected to represent.

    My office will be first and foremost the office of an independent elected official, continuing my commitment to transparent, accountable government. I will bring to the role my record of independence. My personal history is simply that of an individual with specific professional, business, and community qualifications, who is running for office to make a contribution that will improve lives. I have not had the backing of any powerful political organizations as an elected official and I have always been an independent and transparent office holder.

    As the People’s Attorney, my job will be to serve all of the people of Illinois with the highest standards of ethics and integrity. To quote one of my mentors, the late Hon. Ab Mikva: “I’m nobody that nobody sent.”


    As Attorney General, I will seek expanded powers to investigate and prosecute government corruption at every level. Frankly, I am sick and tired of hearing my home state used as the punchline of jokes about corrupt politicians making sleazy deals and lining their own pockets with taxpayers’ money. Especially under the current Administration, the people of Illinois should not be dependent on federal prosecutors to keep an eye on our elected officials. Other states have passed laws that empower their Attorney General to act as a government watchdog, with the ability to step in when state or local officials violate their oath of office. We need that same level of protection here in Illinois.

    It is an unfortunate fact that, in most cases, state law restricts the Illinois attorney general’s office from pursuing criminal cases – including prosecution of public corruption –without the consent of county state’s attorneys. Because state’s attorneys have primary jurisdiction in these cases, the Attorney General does not have authority to empanel a grand jury; absent this authority, the AG’s office cannot conduct a full criminal investigation and bring charges against a corrupt public official.

    Thus far, the General Assembly has refused to give the Attorney General’s office broader authority, such as enhanced grand jury powers, to investigate public corruption. As Attorney General, I will advocate for changes in state law to ensure that our office has the power to act as a watchdog on our elected and appointed officials.

  3. 2. What will your priorities be as attorney general?


    The Illinois Attorney General should: (1) protect the public from the evils of government abuse and corruption; (2) make sure that every person is treated fairly under the law; and (3) ensure consumers and working-class families are protected from corporations and special interests/political leaders seeking to harm them. By accomplishing these goals, Illinois will be able to make progress and bring about the real change needed to improve people’s lives – like making sure adequate funding is available for its public schools and reforming its broken criminal justice system.

    Deep down, everyone in Illinois knows that the ideals set forth above cannot be accomplished if we keep electing the same politicians who are unwilling to take on – or are a part of – the failed status quo. Somewhere along the line, it became about politicians serving themselves, instead of serving the people. As a result, people have lost faith in their government, and it’s holding the state back from tackling the tough challenges it faces. Policies can’t get enacted to strengthen communities and help families get ahead. Neighborhoods aren’t as safe and schools aren’t as strong. In order to achieve real progressive change that will make a difference in people’s lives, it is necessary to take on the status quo and get back to a system that works for all people.

    I want to clean up Illinois once and for all. I have fought this fight as a federal prosecutor and a state representative, and that is what I will do as Attorney General.


    The attorney general is responsible for defining a clear vision for the office and making sure the agency’s resources are aligned in support of that mission. As attorney general I will focus on the following priorities:

    1) Working to protect the civil rights, health and well-being of all citizens; 2) Ensuring that the state and its citizens receive effective representation; and 3) Working to promote accountability within government.

    Upon taking office, my first goal will be to implement a 60-day strategic planning process through which we will: clarify the strategic vision; evaluate the organizational structure and infrastructure; and assess how well resources are being deployed against the office’s core mission and functions. Through this process we will create short and long term plans for how the office will be organized. An essential component of the strategic plan will be to leverage technology to improve the quality and efficiency of the office’s work processes, communications, and data management.

    The Illinois Attorney General’s Office is not as well-resourced as others in states of comparable size. Among the top five states by population, Illinois only ranks above Florida in AG funding per capita. Moreover, the size of the office in terms of number of employees is low relative to other highly populated states. There is no question the office could do more to support and protect the citizens of Illinois with additional resources. The good news is the office has demonstrated success in bringing in its own financial support as only roughly 40 percent of the office’s budget comes from Illinois’ general fund. Thus, another essential component of the strategic plan will be to identify: (1) additional sources of revenue; and (2) how certain activities within the office can become self-sustaining.


    I will take a bold progressive approach to the Attorney General’s office with three specific priorities. First, I will stand up to the big powers--taking on the big corporations, big banks and Donald Trump’s policies that hurt and disrupt Illinois. As Attorney General, I will be vocal and fight every illegal action Trump takes. Second, I will achieve real criminal justice reform. There are four pieces to this: 1) ending mass incarceration, 2) ending the racist drug war, 3) eliminating cash bail, and 4) achieving real police reform. Third, I will fight corruption in our state and local government. Once in office I will form a Public Integrity Bureau within the Attorney General’s office to specifically address corruption.


    A. Fighting Back Against the Trump Administration

    Donald Trump represents a threat to our democracy, our constitutional rights, and our basic system of government. Since his inauguration, state Attorneys General have used the legal system to fight his harmful agenda. They challenged Trump’s unconstitutional travel ban, the end of net neutrality, and the rule limiting access to contraception in the Affordable Care Act amongst many others. They’ve done this for good reason—it’s an effective way to limit Trump’s abuses and can help force real change through the legal system. As Attorney General, my number one priority will be to use this office to stand up for Illinoisans who have their constitutional rights violated by Trump and to limit Trump’s attempts to abuse his power. State Attorneys General are the last line of defense against the Trump Administration, and I will do everything I can to stop Trump’s assault on working families, the poor, the sick, and communities of color. For example, I would take legal action against Trump’s discriminatory immigration policies. Specifically, the unconstitutional practice of requiring DACA recipients to provide identifying information to the government under the guise of providing protections, only to then use that very information to deport them. The Affordable Care Act also is under attack because of Trump’s cruel and reckless tax plan that repealed the individual mandate, denying thousands of people health care coverage and raising premiums.

    Finally, Governor Rauner and President Trump are working together to secure a favorable Supreme Court ruling in the Janus v. AFSCME case. This would hurt working people and undermine the collective bargaining process for state employees. This outlook of this case doesn’t look good, and it represents yet another example of Governor Rauner’s number one priority: decimating organized labor. If, as expected, the Supreme Court rules against AFSCME, I would advocate for state and federal legislation that would prevent the implementation of unfair labor practices in Illinois and maintain collective bargaining rights. I also would work to ensure that all public employees are provided sufficient information about the benefits of joining or remaining in a union.

    B. Economic Justice

    I will use the office of the Attorney General to fight against economic injustice and level the playing field between rich and poor. The first issue I will tackle is the epidemic of wage theft in Illinois. Since 2014, more than $50 million in claims have come before the state where people are being denied the wages they deserve. This is disgraceful, and I will get to the bottom of the broken system that disproportionately impacts the poor and communities of color. No one should be deprived of the wages they are owed, and the state needs to do a better job of cracking down on businesses that refuse to follow the law. I will also fight to ensure that all workers have the opportunity to earn the prevailing wage in Illinois and go after companies that skirt their responsibility to do so. As a prosecutor, I have taken on the banks and corporations who take advantage of working people, and I will root out fraud and economic inequality as Attorney General.

    C. Election Security

    Free and safe elections are the foundation of our democracy. We will quickly lose our credibility with our citizens and around the world if the security of our elections continues to be compromised. I want to make Illinois a national leader in election security. As Attorney General, I will lead a full investigation into the Russian attack on our voting systems in Illinois as well as the vulnerability of our voting systems going forward. I will issue a public report of our findings, including recommendations to better defend our system, including the creation of a dedicated election security officer to ensure that the systems remain as secure as possible, an audit of a random sample of ballots in future elections, and a paper trail.


    As Attorney General, I will be a zealous advocate for the people of Illinois with a commitment to justice and ethics. My priorities will be as follows:

    • Integrity and Transparency in State and Local Government. The Attorney General must constantly promote ethics and transparency in state and local government. I have pursued these objectives throughout my career:
    • As Governor, I successfully advocated for legislation to raise ethical standards for elected officials, state employees and lobbyists; strengthened the Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act, and vetoed efforts to weaken disclosure rules; and instituted new whistleblower protections. I also insisted that casino gaming legislation include tough ethics requirements.
    • As State Treasurer, I proposed both the Illinois Whistleblower Protection and Reward Act, which incentivizes members of the public to report wrongdoing to the Attorney General, and the Inspector Misconduct Act which prohibits state inspectors from soliciting campaign contributions from persons they regulate.
    • As a Commissioner on the Cook County Board of Property Tax Appeals, I declined political donations from attorneys who practiced before the Board.
    • Consumer and Privacy Rights. As Attorney General, I will protect the rights of consumers. We need to ensure that utilities, insurance companies, financial institutions, platform monopolies and other business enterprises treat their customers fairly. I spearheaded the creation of the Citizens Utility Board, and am particularly concerned about ensuring that utility companies act in the public interest. I also will protect privacy rights, which are at serious risk as companies collect the personal information of their customers and share that information in ways that are not disclosed, and will vigorously enforce the Illinois antitrust laws.
    • Criminal Justice Reform. The Attorney General must be a leader in improving the quality of justice in Illinois. Mass incarceration, wrongful convictions and unequal justice should be a concern of all Illinois citizens. I am proud of the fact that I signed the legislation abolishing the death penalty in Illinois, a penalty that was imposed repeatedly on innocent persons and inordinately on people of color. When I was Governor, to reduce a backlog of clemency requests dating from 2003, I acted on 4,928 clemency petitions. I granted 1,795 petitions, more than any Governor in Illinois history, bringing relief to people like Tyrone Hood who spent 22 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. I also issued an administrative order and later signed legislation to “Ban the Box,” prohibiting private employers and employment agencies from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history until the applicant is determined to be qualified for the job, thereby helping ex-offenders secure employment and become productive members of society.
    • Healthcare. In 2013 I signed legislation to bring the benefits of the Affordable Care Act to Illinois. The legislation dramatically expanded healthcare coverage to hundreds of thousands of Illinois residents and also brought $12 billion of federal funding to the state. As Attorney General, I will protect access to healthcare and hold accountable pharmaceutical companies and others who are responsible for the opioid epidemic which is harming families across Illinois.
    • Environmental Protection. Article XI of the Illinois Constitution establishes the fundamental right of every person to a healthful environment. As Attorney General, I will vigorously enforce the environmental laws and advocate for new laws when necessary to address new threats to the environment. As Governor, I launched a $2 billion Clean Water Initiative to protect our drinking water, and I served as Chairman of the Great Lakes Commission consisting of eight states and two Canadian provinces. I also emphasized sustainability in all my decisions and greatly advanced renewable energy and energy efficiency.
    • Violence and Gun Safety. I will lobby the General Assembly to pass common sense gun safety laws (including a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines), will intervene in federal lawsuits that seek to prevent states and local governments from enacting reasonable gun legislation, and will partner with law enforcement agencies to prosecute serious gun law violations. In 2014, G-PAC, the Gun Violence Prevention PAC, praised my “long and impressive record of support for common sense gun safety.”
    • Human Rights. Everyone has a fundamental right to be protected from discrimination and harassment. When I served as Governor, I pursued and signed the landmark legislation establishing marriage equality. I also signed unprecedented legislation requiring schools to implement policies to combat bullying (including cyberbullying), and signed legislation to fight against human trafficking. As Attorney General, I will challenge unlawful discrimination and harassment whenever it appears.
    • Workers Rights. As Governor, I worked to protect the rights of workers including the right to bargain collectively, to expand job opportunities through increased training and education, and to increase the minimum wage. I will continue to advocate in these areas and utilize the tools available to the Attorney General to protect workers against wage theft, pregnancy discrimination, and harassment on the job. I also will vigorously enforce the Equal Pay Act.
    • Protecting Immigrants. New to this country, immigrants are vulnerable in many ways, and particularly so since President Trump was inaugurated. I will join with other state Attorneys General who are working to protect the rights of immigrants and oppose President Trump’s anti-immigrant policies. As Governor, I signed the DREAM Act, signed legislation to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses, and was the first Governor in America to return the Secure Communities program back to the federal government, which would have used Illinois law enforcement to act as federal immigration officers.

    Having sponsored the legislation that created the Public Access Counselor in the Attorney General’s Office, I plan to properly resource the office so as to eliminate the backlog in FOIA and Open Meetings Act complaints. Long delays in responding to such complaints from the public and the media defeat the purpose of having a dedicated Public Access Counselor and frustrate the intent of the legislation: to improve the transparency of government and allow sunshine to deter corruption.

    Another of my priorities as Attorney General will be responding quickly and effectively to allegations of labor law violations. As a sponsor of legislation to expand the Workplace Rights Bureau, I will adequately staff this division in order to handle complaints of wage theft, failure to pay prevailing wage, employee misclassification and other violations by corporations against their workers.

    Third, as Attorney General I will continue the work I began in the General Assembly on criminal justice reform. I will use the office’s “bully pulpit” and my role as an advocate to urge passage of commonsense provisions related to sentencing, probation and parole, bail and bond, juvenile justice, expungement and rehabilitation programs. I will work in my new role to maintain Illinois’ progress away from just being tough on crime and toward being smart on crime by giving second chances to nonviolent offenders, cracking down on repeat gun offenders and appropriately focusing the resources of the corrections and justice systems.


    As a Mayor, I have seven years of experience defining priorities, setting the agenda, and getting things done for constituents. The Attorney General is responsible for serving as Illinois’ top law official, ensuring that laws are followed and enforced, while also coordinating with other states’ Attorneys General to defend the nation from federal efforts to roll back civil and human rights, environmental protections, and other detrimental initiatives of the current administration. The people of Illinois need an independent, experienced, principled leader to dedicate resources to defending their rights and interests via lawsuits, fighting special interests and corporations who do not share our values by harming the environment and defrauding consumers, and using the tools of the office to expose and eliminate corruption.

    When I became Mayor, drawing upon my legal and business background, I created annual offsite strategic planning sessions with my City Council colleagues and senior staff. We collaboratively set policy decisions and carefully consider a multitude of factors in order to improve the quality of life in our community and best serve the residents. These policy decisions and core priorities determine how resources are allocated so that staff may most effectively manage the day to day operations and long-term plans can be defined and executed.

    Foremost, the resources of the Attorney General’s Office need to go towards protecting the health, safety and welfare of Illinoisians. In addition to continuing the critical work of the Attorney General’s Office in the areas of consumer protection, environmental protection, immigration rights, crime victim advocacy, and standing up for labor and working families, specific initiatives I would pursue as IL Attorney General include:

    • Acting as a powerful advocate by continuing my fight against the NRA to enact and enforce common sense gun violence prevention solutions.
    • Fighting for criminal justice reform, restoring human rights and public safety to our impacted communities.
    • Standing up against sexual harassment and working to change the laws so that survivors can come forward without fear of retaliation and serial offenders are prosecuted. As Attorney General, I will be a fierce advocate calling for necessary changes to protect survivors and end cycles of abuse.
    • Pursuing action against online and off-shore pharmacies in an effort to curb access to opioids, while working to increase access to mental health and addiction recovery resources.
    • Providing open and honest government via additional resources for the Public Access Counselor, as well as education and accountability for improved government ethics and transparency across all levels of government.
    • Joining and expanding upon collaborative efforts with other states’ Attorneys General in fighting and stopping the destructive initiatives by the current President and his administration.

    The Illinois Attorney General has jurisdiction over a wide range of issues, and it is impossible to predict with any certainty the issues that will be at the top of the agenda in January of 2019. I mean, who would have predicted this time last year that the Attorney General’s office would be investigating Equifax – or that attorneys general from across the country would be banding together to protect our healthcare from attempted sabotage by the White House? But no matter what unexpected events and issues arise between now and the day I take office in January 2019, I know that three top priorities will guide the work of my office:

    • Fighting public corruption
    • Fighting for criminal justice reform
    • Fighting against the Trump agenda of rolling back our civil and workplace rights, immigration policy and environmental regulations
  4. 3. How will you improve the Illinois Freedom of Information Act? How will you improve the Open Meetings Act?


    All government should operate in an open and transparent manner. Unfortunately, due to Illinois’ weak Freedom of Information Act, state and local governing bodies frequently ignore the Act’s requirements, knowing they will face no real repercussions. The Open Meetings Act contains similar flaws.

    As a state representative, I have been strong in my opposition to attempts by the General Assembly to further weaken the Freedom of Information Act. I will continue this opposition as Attorney General.

    Further, I will advocate to add teeth to the Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act so that governmental units that violate their provisions will face real consequences. There must be a real deterrent.

    As Attorney General, I will make it a priority for the Public Access Counselor to timely rule on alleged violations of the Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act. For the average citizen who does not have the resources to litigate against a governmental unit, the Public Access Counselor is the last chance the citizen has to obtain a remedy. When that remedy does not come in a timely manner, bad government prevails.


    First, I will ensure the Office of the Public Access Counselor is properly funded and staffed. Currently, there’s a big backlog and it takes a lot of time to get the answers people are requesting. This indicates that the system is under-resourced. More resources are needed so the agency can keep up with demand. I would need to drill down and find the root causes of the backlog and then make a determination.

    Responding to the FOIA requests and OMA are really important because they help us to understand how our government is functioning and whether the various agencies are working properly.

    We want to make sure the agencies are fulfilling that mission. Consequently,if we need to devote more resources to it, then that’s something we need to prioritize.


    Transparency is crucial to a democracy. As the Illinois Open Meetings Act states: “public bodies exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business and that the people have a right to be informed as to the conduct of their business.” 5 ILCS 120/1. I will ensure that the public access counselor is fully funded and staffed so that requests and complaints are dealt with efficiently and effectively. I will also work with organizations such as the Better Government Association and others who advocate for transparent government to improve the Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act.


    As discussed above, we need more transparency in Illinois. There are too many instances where information appears to be hidden, which has fueled public mistrust. Attorney General Madigan has made strides to improve transparency. The Public Access Counselor’s Office is a positive step forward, but we can do more. I would advocate for the Illinois legislature to improve both the Illinois Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act, so that both acts actually serve the goal of keeping the public informed. The definitions and requirements should be clarified, and the exceptions to both acts should be narrowed. The current laws often give agencies and municipalities too much opportunity to keep their activities hidden. The presumption should be that information is disclosed, unless the agency meets a high burden to withhold the information. Response times should be shorted. Costs should be reduced. Resources should be allocated to ensure that information can be efficiently gathered and released. I will work to make sure that all agencies are transparent as required by existing law, and will advocate for the legislature to increase public access to information.


    As I discussed above, I am a strong proponent of transparency in government, advocated for strengthening the Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act when I was Governor, and enthusiastically signed the legislation that bolstered those acts. If elected Attorney General, I will meet regularly with open government advocates to hear their concerns. If further amendments to the law are necessary to ensure transparency, I will pursue them.


    As a member of the General Assembly for the past 13 years, I look forward to working with legislators on both sides of the aisle to continually improve government transparency. My standard will be that improvements on paper must be accompanied by the funding needed to back them up in practice. The first step I will take in this area will be to adequately staff the Office of the Public Access Counselor so that members of the media and the general public are not kept waiting on a backlog of FOIA and OMA complaints.


    Making government information available to citizens in a usable form, within a defined period of time, is a vital and effective tool to make government more transparent and to hold officials accountable. It is even more effective when it is coupled with a binding decision requiring a government to comply or face the threat of an Attorney General lawsuit. Increasing transparency and supporting citizen awareness and participation positively impact efforts against corruption.

    The state Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is sometimes viewed as an unfunded mandate and the stalling tactics used by some governments with requests for records may discourage citizens from pursuing government records. There is room for improvement in FOIA implementation both in terms of providing resources to responding governments and training responsible personnel to understand its critical value.

    Like many other states, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office has limited jurisdiction to prosecute public corruption. That obstacle notwithstanding, steps can be taken to highlight the issue, collaborate with whistleblowers and coordinate with federal prosecutors, who bring vital skills and resources to corruption investigation and prosecution.

    There is additionally a role for the Attorney General in that prompt, effective, local responses may stop corruption before it rises to the level that requires federal intervention. As a Mayor who works with other local governments and serves on the Comptroller’s Local Government Advisory Board, I know the critical value that the Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information Act bring. As is stated above the doors of my City Hall: “The salvation of community is watchfulness of the citizen.” Providing resources to highlight the important value of transparency for units of government while educating the public about the availability of accessible information, will promote increased sunshine on government operations. A state-based response to local corruption provides a good starting point for reviewing gaps and omissions that unintentionally provide cover for corrupt activities, improving efficiencies while restoring the public’s trust.


    I strongly support the BGA's successful effort to bar Illinois cities from imposing their own exemptions to state open records law, and I will take action against any Illinois municipality or other government body that fails to respond swiftly and appropriately to requests under the Freedom of Information Act, including requests for financial information.

    I also will impose greater accountability on Illinois municipalities and agencies that fail to post all required information online, including information on FOIA procedures, the designated FOIA contact and potential FOIA fees. As Attorney General, I will expand the change of the Public Access Counselor to work with public bodies to make sure that they comply with all aspects of FOIA, including statutory posting requirements. These requirements are not merely bureaucratic window-dressing; without information about how the FOIA process works and whose responsibility it is to respond to FOIA requests, Illinois residents are left trying to navigate a labyrinth of governmental organizational charts in the hopes of getting their questions answered.

  5. 4. How will you improve the public access counselor’s office?


    The Public Access Counselor plays a vital role in ensuring open and transparent government in Illinois. Unfortunately, the Public Access Counselor’s office does not timely respond to alleged violations of the Freedom of Information Act or Open Meetings Act. As a result, government is permitted to hide in the shadows. As set forth above, as Attorney General, I will make it a priority for the Public Access Counselor to timely rule on alleged violations of the Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act. For the average citizen who does not have the resources to litigate against a governmental unit, the Public Access Counselor is the last chance the citizen has to obtain a remedy. When that remedy does not come in a timely manner, bad government prevails.


    The people have a right to know what business is being conducted on their behalf. Public officials have a duty and responsibility to be as transparent as possible, such that citizens have confidence their government is being managed with integrity. The office of the Public Access Counselor is responsible for assisting the state in deciding disputes concerning government records requests. The mission of the PAC is "to help people obtain public documents and access public meetings." The PAC is responsible for defending and interpreting requests for review under FOIA and OMA. In recent years, the PAC has received a steadily increasing number of requests for review. Yet, the PAC only has a staff of 14 lawyers and a budget of less than $1 million, and has a backlog of requests.

    Defending and interpreting FOIA and OMA are essential functions of the attorney general’s office. FOIA and OMA are the cornerstones for building transparent and accountable governments. As attorney general, I will ensure the PAC is properly funded and staffed, and fight to keep government open, transparent and accessible.

    Earlier in January, I released a comprehensive proposal on government integrity, reform and transparency that includes my priority to continue to work toward an open and transparent Illinois government and ensure government agencies meet their obligations under the Freedom of Information and Open Meetings Acts.


    As Madeline Doubek explained, it took the Better Government Association “to fight for five years’ worth of files from fatal shootings by police officers”. (Doubek, Madeline, “Will attorney general candidates focus on corruption?” Chicago Sun Times, Nov. 27, 2017). Doubek explains further that since 2007 the Better Government Association “has had to resort to suing 52 times for records from the mayor, governor and comptroller, Navy Pier officials, the village of Rosemont, the Cook County state’s attorney, and many others.” (Id.) I will work to ensure that the public access counselor’s office is fully funded and staffed so that all requests are handled quickly and efficiently and we don’t have to resort to numerous lawsuits for governments to be transparent.


    The best disinfectant to misconduct and poor leadership is sunshine. The Public Counselor's office has played a significant role in enforcing the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in Illinois but more work needs to be done. Local governments and agencies hide behind FOIA exemptions and other loopholes to avoid revealing information that may be politically embarrassing or compromising. That practice has to end, and FOIA needs be the check on corruption in government it was intended to be.

    I think a glaring example of the lack of transparency at the local level is the 13 months it took to release the dashcam tape of the Laquan McDonald killing. Ultimately, the Attorney General's office issued an advisory opinion that the tape should be released, but it was a disgrace that it took as long as it did. I will work to ensure that this lack of transparency surrounding police shootings will no longer take place in local law enforcement. Consideration in these instances should be weighted towards the grieving families, not political expediency.

    The office is stretched thin, with 14 lawyers receiving 4,720 requests last year. As I discussed above, I will analyze current staffing levels to determine how to further increase the office's efficiency, I will evaluate opportunities to create public databases that will allow Illinoisans to proactively access and evaluate information, and I will evaluate ways to streamline the review and response process, so response times will be quicker and costs will be lower.


    I will work to ensure that the Public Access Counselor has sufficient resources to resolve disputes and address violations of the law in a timely matter.


    I believe that the number one deterrent to public corruption is sunshine. That is why I helped secure passage of legislation establishing in statute the Office of the Public Access Counselor in order to expedite responses to Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act complaints. Members of the media and the general public should be able to access all information to which they are entitled as quickly as possible, so elected officials can be held accountable and so voters and taxpayers understand what governments are doing with their authority and money.

    FOIA is a powerful tool, but only to the extent that government bodies comply with it. One of my top priorities as Attorney General will be assuring that the Public Access Counselor is appropriately staffed to respond quickly and accurately to FOIA requests and complaints.


    Transparency and accessibility are fundamental to a democracy. The Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (PAC) has processed thousands of appeals and requests for information. Those numbers prove the value of the office as it meets the needs of citizens to serve as a watchdogs of government. This office is critical to ensuring that government decision-making is visible to those represented.

    As Attorney General, I will prioritize the PAC, specifically boosting resources available and outreach to those public employees responsible for record keeping and requests. Additionally, I will ensure that the office of Attorney General is further empowered to issue binding opinions, regardless of government level, just as Lisa Madigan has done with Governor Bruce Rauner.

    As a two-term Mayor, I know first-hand the value of government transparency and accountability. During my first term, I shook up City Hall with a major reform of city government that resulted in transparency, accessibility, and ethics accountability.

    The cost of corruption is a diminished ability for the government to do its job and reduces trust by those it represents. It must be addressed head-on. I will bring the same dedication to transparency and principled leadership that I have maintained as a Mayor to the Office of Attorney General. My background in business and law, coupled with my experience in the legislative and executive branches of government, will serve the people of Illinois well.


    Although "Molly's Law" has added the threat of hefty fines to Illinois' FOIA laws, journalists should not be forced to go through lengthy and expensive court proceedings to access government information that should have been made publicly available in the first place.

    The Attorney General's Public Access Bureau has done a creditable job in providing a forum to settle disputes over FOIA requests. However, too many public agencies are still dragging their feet when they receive FOIA requests. As Attorney General, I will expand the Public Access Bureau's outreach to government officials at every level to make sure they understand the necessity for swift, complete response. I also will order the Public Access Bureau to be more aggressive in issuing binding opinions, to shorten the time it takes for requesters to receive information in these cases. Finally, I will seek new legislation that will enable my office to take action against agencies and government bodies that defy the Public Access Bureau's binding opinions, without requiring records requesters to file a lawsuit to get access to the information they need.

  6. 5. Will you continue the AG’s lawsuit against the City of Chicago’s police department? If so, what are the key things you hope the lawsuit will accomplish? If not, what do you think is the appropriate role of the Attorney General in Chicago policing?


    Yes, I will continue the lawsuit against the City of Chicago’s police department. It is likely that before the next attorney general takes office, the City of Chicago and the current attorney general will enter into a consent decree regarding policing. It will be important for the next attorney general to ensure enforcement of the consent decree and to implement it in a way that protects the public, not the police department. I am committed to obtaining input from community members and law enforcement regarding the proper implementation of any consent decree. Absent community participation, any consent decree will be viewed with suspicion and would be set up to fail.


    Thankfully, Attorney General Lisa Madigan stepped into the void created by the Trump Administration to file a lawsuit and is pursuing the oversight process for the Chicago Police reforms recommended by the Dept. of Justice, but it’s going to take a while for her office to get up to speed to determine what changes really need to happen. So, they can design a consent decree that’s not only in line with what the community wants and expects, but actually makes sense.

    Finalizing or enforcing the consent decree between the office and the City of Chicago regarding police reform is one of my priorities for this office. The goal of the lawsuit will be to develop a comprehensive plan for reforming the department in a way that will result in: (1) effective crime prevention and prosecution; (2) significantly improved community trust and engagement; and (3) an organizational culture that embraces accountability, procedural justice and community service.

    The plan must outline the roles and responsibilities of the office and the court-appointed monitor in monitoring and enforcing the city’s responsibilities as to execution of the plan. The plan must reflect the need for reforms in all aspects of operations: organizational vision and mission, organizational design and management structure, officer recruitment, training, policy development and implementation, data management and analysis, supervision, performance evaluation, managing officer health & well-being, equipment and vehicle management, etc.

    Police reform doesn’t just have to be about being tough on officers, it’s really meant to make sure the officers have the resources and training they need to succeed in the jobs. Training is the greatest priority when it comes to police reform. Officers need to undergo proper training before they go out on the street, but also on a regular basis. Just like officers continue to practice their shooting skills, they need to undergo training to keep their people skills at top performance.

    As AG, I would look to develop a statewide policy for deadly force. The current Supreme Court standard is woefully low and we need to use policy to raise the level so that we’re authorizing officers to use force under circumstances that we as a community believe are appropriate.

    I would like to develop that statewide standard and use the AG’s office to push it out and engage communities to have a dialog and adopt these policies and make sure they’re refreshed annually.


    I will continue the lawsuit against the City of Chicago’s police department. The community must be involved in any consent decree and/or reform of the Chicago Police Department (“CPD”). Currently, there are other pending lawsuits against the CPD from private citizens and organizations. The community must have a seat at the table and they must have enforcement power. I will ensure that the community has a say in the obtaining and enforcement of the consent decree. As Attorney General, I will advocate for a consent decree requiring the CPD to undergo numerous reforms including training. Police officers need extensive training including use of force, cultural, religious, mental health, de-escalation, LGBTQ, and implicit bias training. That training must have substantial results so that the problems that have plagued the CPD for years are eliminated. There must be a federal monitor along with AG oversight to ensure that racial discrimination in policing is eliminated and they are maintaining statistics reflecting that improvement.


    I support and will continue Attorney General Madigan’s lawsuit against the City of Chicago’s police department. Policing in the city of Chicago must change, and this lawsuit is an important step in reaching that goal. The lawsuit will help push the Mayor’s office to implement new, more aggressive reforms to combat a pattern of excessive force against vulnerable citizens, exemplified by the tragic police shooting of Laquan McDonald.

    As Attorney General, I look forward to working closely with law enforcement to make sure they have the resources they need to do their jobs well and that they live up to their obligation as public servants. I will not tolerate anyone who abuses their position to take advantage of others. We can’t allow a culture to continue that turns a blind eye to a pattern of inappropriate behavior that disproportionally affects communities of color. No one deserves to live in fear simply because of the color of his or her skin. Law enforcement, together with community groups and criminal justice advocates, should be working partners in collaborative reform efforts. We have to be able to restore trust between government and people, law enforcement and communities in order to tackle critical issues like gangs and gun violence.


    Yes, I will continue the lawsuit, with the goal of obtaining a consent decree that would mandate needed reforms of the Chicago Police Department. In order to end violence in city neighborhoods, we need to rebuild trust between communities and the police department. One important step to achieving that goal is to adopt procedures and training that will protect civil rights, end excessive force, and ensure discipline when appropriate. The vast majority of police officers perform their duty at a high level under often very difficult circumstances, but unfortunately there are exceptions. With the U.S. Justice Department failing to meet its obligation to address abuses, it is important that the Illinois Attorney General take an active role to ensure that systemic reforms are adopted and people’s rights are protected.


    I will continue the lawsuit as long as it remains the most effective way of obtaining a strong, enforceable consent decree that holds the Chicago Police Department’s feet to the fire so that genuine, systemic change occurs at CPD. I am deeply disappointed that after the Department of Justice conducted an investigation that clearly identified problematic practices within CPD, the DOJ’s new leadership under the current administration chose to ignore the evidence – in Chicago and other cities – and chose not to work with the police department, the City and, most importantly, members of the communities being policed to promote the appropriate use of force and effective, fair policing. In the absence of substantive DOJ involvement, I believe this lawsuit can produce a consent decree that, in conjunction with recent legislative reforms I sponsored, pushes CPD to adopt reforms that prevent future Laquan McDonalds from falling victim to the consequences of poor training and discipline in law enforcement.

    It also should be noted that I was the chief sponsor of a criminal justice reform package that was passed prior to the release of the Laquan McDonald video. I also sponsored legislation creating the torture inquiry commission in response to numerous accusations; this is an issue I’ve focused on for some time. The Attorney General consulted with me prior to her action on this issue


    I support AG Madigan’s lawsuit and will commit to upholding the Attorney General’s negotiated agreement. By filing her lawsuit, AG Madigan took necessary action to address decades of a broken-down system, one that has put both resident and police lives at risk in the City of Chicago.

    By obtaining an enforceable consent decree, we can start taking critical steps to address the problems identified in the Department of Justice Report, and begin improving the community’s trust in the Police Department while enhancing public safety. An effective result will be respecting the public’s rights and safety, while ensuring the necessary resources and support to those who place their lives on the line every day. With defined timelines, financial commitments, clear metrics and expected outcomes, the community and the Police Department will benefit and we will be on the path to a safer community for all. It is critical that AG Madigan and her successor work with the groups that have brought the other suits to coordinate efforts. To achieve trust and safety, community voices must be heard and considered.


    I absolutely will continue the Attorney General's lawsuit against the City of Chicago's police department, and I will make sure that the resulting consent decree is followed scrupulously.

    Attorney General Madigan filed this lawsuit against CPD when the U.S. Justice Department abdicated its responsibility to bring new levels of accountability to the police department, in the aftermath of the Laquan McDonald shooting. Reform of the police department is long overdue, and the cost of police misconduct over the years has been staggering. In addition to the lives that have been lost and the communities that have been disrupted, the financial impacts of police misconduct have been enormous: From 2004 to early 2016, the City paid out more $662 million in taxpayer dollars in settlements.

    As the Attorney General's office hammers out the details of this consent decree, it will be crucial to ensure that all stakeholders are heard and included in the process. Much of the onus will be on the police department to develop a new culture of openness and community responsibility; building that culture will require a completely new approach to training and supervision. We also must work with community advocates and civil rights groups, to make sure that everyone in every neighborhood feels equally protected by the police force. Most importantly – given that this consent decree may shape the city's police force for several decades – we must make sure that this consent decree is specific and stringent enough to assure the real, substantive change that is needed, but that it also is flexible enough to serve the needs of the people of Chicago for years to come.

  7. 6. How will you go after corruption in Illinois?


    Please see response to Question No. 1, above. Further, I will make it known that, as Attorney General, I will follow the evidence wherever it leads. While I am a proud Democrat, if I learn that a Democratic politician – whether the Speaker of the House or anyone else – has committed a public corruption crime, he or she will be prosecuted just like anyone else.

    As discussed above, on Day 1, I will begin transforming the Attorney General’s Office into one that fights corruption on par with the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices throughout the state. As someone with a depth of trial and investigative experience, I will actively participate in the office’s public corruption investigations and cases. Moreover, the best cases and investigations will be assigned to the best attorneys in the office and those most dedicated to pursuing the public’s interest. This is how Patrick Fitzgerald ran the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago, and I saw the effectiveness of this leadership style.


    The attorney general must play a much more proactive role in rooting out and prosecuting political corruption. For example, I believe the attorney general should have alerted the legislature and the public the Legislative Inspector General position was vacant.

    The following are some ways in which the office can promote public integrity:

    • Work to introduce and advocate for revisions to the statute governing the Illinois Legislative Ethics Commission and Legislative Inspector General;
    • Establish and publicize a complaint line for individuals to call to report allegations of misconduct by public officials or government agency employees;
    • Coordinate with the state’s attorneys to ensure any public corruption and police misconduct prosecutions in which the state’s attorney has a conflict of interest are referred to the office for prosecution to the extent permissible by law;
    • Work with law enforcement to establish a statewide public integrity task force to ensure that local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies can coordinate activities and share strategies and tactics for investigating public corruption matters; and
    • Ensure that county and local governments without inspectors general have policies and procedures to address official misconduct. Where there are gaps provide guidance and resources.

    The attorney general’s grand jury authority should also be expanded to include the investigation and prosecution of corrupt acts committed by local, county, and state government workers. The attorney general also can provide guidance and support to local governments regarding the appropriate checks and balances necessary to uncover and prosecute corrupt government actors.

    I have released the most comprehensive anti-corruption plan in the race for attorney general. You can read more details at


    The first act I will take as Attorney General is to form a Public Integrity Bureau, whose only job will be to investigate corruption. Combating corruption will be a priority and I will investigate all credible claims of corruption, regardless of political party. I will advocate to give more power to the Attorney General’s office to fight corruption but in the meantime will investigate corruption, prosecute it where we can, and work with local and federal prosecutors to combat corruption. I will also ensure that the public access counselor is fully funded and staffed to ensure governments are fully transparent.


    I support expanding the Attorney General’s mandate to fight corruption because I believe there should be an independent watchdog that answers directly to the voters. I am not a politician or a political insider. I am not beholden to special interests or the party apparatus. When I was a federal prosecutor, I investigated public corruption. I let the facts lead the way and adhered to the principle that no one is above the law. I will follow the same set of ethics and values as Attorney General. Many voters in Illinois have lost faith in our government due to Springfield’s—and Chicago’s—culture of corruption. Elected officials need to be held to a higher standard. In an effort to change the culture of corruption, the Attorney General should be empowered with greater responsibilities and oversight to more effectively address public corruption. I will be a fearless advocate for more transparency and conduct swift investigations into unethical practices to make examples of behavior that can no longer be tolerated.

    One of my first acts as Attorney General will be to form a Public Corruption task force—including Attorney General staff and outside experts with backgrounds in law enforcement, constitutional law, and government ethics—to establish comprehensive legislative recommendations that would transform the Office of the Attorney General into an independent watchdog responsible to the voters, with the power to issue subpoenas and indictments in criminal corruption matters. I want to ensure that we are expanding powers wisely to ensure that we do not grow the powers of the Attorney General too broadly.


    As I discuss above, I have pursued integrity and ethics in government during my entire career. I have a long record of independence and have never shied away from challenging troubling behavior.

    I support a constitutional amendment that would give voters the ability by petition and referendum to impose ethical standards on state and local elected and appointed officials and also to adopt campaign finance reforms. I have supported for many years legislation to ban voting by legislators when they have a conflict of interest, and also changes to the state constitution to adopt terms limits for both legislators and statewide officials and to remove legislative redistricting from the hands of the General Assembly. In addition, the law should ban campaign contributions to assessment officials from property tax lawyers.

    State law should be amended to expand the authority of the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute corruption of public officials. Until such legislation is enacted, I will partner with federal prosecutors and states attorneys to prosecute corruption and take a leadership role when requested by state attorneys as currently allowed by law.

    I am a strong supporter of the state’s Whistleblower Protection and Reward Act, now entitled the False Claims Act. If elected Attorney General, I will encourage potential whistleblowers to come forward and I will work with them to address fraud in state and local government.


    While ensuring adequate staffing of the Public Access Counselor’s division, I will also inform myself about existing channels of cooperation among the Office of the Attorney General, state’s attorneys and federal authorities and critically assess how well they work to provide for effective investigation and timely prosecution of public corruption allegations. I will begin to create more specific mechanisms for cooperation between my office and local prosecutors in order to access their grand jury powers in collaboration with them. Wherever appropriate, I will collaborate with federal prosecutors. I will advocate for the expansion of the Illinois Attorney General’s grand jury powers to the extent that the General Assembly is prepared to make available the funds necessary to allow the Attorney General’s office to aggressively pursue corruption cases, recognizing that statutory powers and tools are only as good as the resources devoted to their use.


    As a two-term Mayor, I shook up City Hall with a major reform of city government that resulted in transparency, accessibility, collaboration, and ethical accountability. The cost of corruption is not only a lack of trust by constituents, but also a diminished ability for the government to do its job. It should not be tolerated, and must be addressed head-on. While the Attorney General’s Office currently has limited jurisdiction to prosecute public corruption, a number of options can be pursued, such as a coordinated effort between the Attorney General and the Comptroller, as implemented in New York.

    Additionally, I would work to increase resources to the Public Access Counselor, supporting watchdog activities, enforcement and education of the public and local governments. Too often, local governments fail to recognize the critical importance of public access to information and the role that access plays in improved representation.

    The Attorney General must act as the statewide monitor for compliance with standards of fair and open government backed up by a commitment to pursue litigation and seek real penalties as necessary. I will bring the same dedication to transparency, ethics and principled leadership that I have maintained as a Mayor to the Office of Illinois Attorney General.


    My own record demonstrates my willingness to stand up and take on political insiders. In 2015, in the wake of a bribery scandal, I stepped in to become Interim CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s third-largest school district. That experience really underscored the importance of transparency in government. During my brief tenure, I created a requirement that all requests for single- and sole-source contracts be posted on our website, well in advance of any vote. Now the Chicago Public Schools have a system in place to make sure that the Board and the public have a chance to weigh in before those types of contracts go up for a vote. In a December 2015 interview with the Sun-Times, I also called for CPS briefings to be held in public meetings (although, unfortunately, such briefings are still held in private). Supreme Court Justice Brandeis once said that sunlight is the best disinfectant. Advocating for open and transparent government is one of the Attorney General’s core responsibilities, and I will do everything I can to make sure the people of Illinois get the full picture of what their government is up to.

    I also spoke out when Forrest Claypool committed ethics infractions as the head of CPS. From day one, I blew the whistle on the conflicts of interest that led to the Inspector General’s investigation. Forrest Claypool’s actions in misleading the Inspector General were unacceptable, especially at a time when trust in our government is at an all-time low. The people of Chicago have the right to expect our leaders to set an example of integrity. When Forrest Claypool failed this test, I immediately called on him to step down.

  8. 7. What should be the attorney general’s role in responding to federal policies and politics?


    The attorney general in Illinois, like attorneys general throughout the country, has a responsibility to the residents of its state. Where a federal policy or executive order infringes on those rights, an attorney general should respond with legal action. Thus, as Attorney General, I will stand up to Donald Trump and anyone else who seeks to do harm to Illinois residents. No federal official is above-the-law and, as Attorney General, I will act as the check on any abuse of power.


    The attorney general should always work to protect Illinois residents when federal policies and politics conflict with the protections provided by our laws and our constitution. I look forward to having a personal role to play in fighting back against the Trump Administration’s unconstitutional attacks on women, people of color, our LGBT communities and the foundations of our government.

    I will gladly join the coalition of Democratic Attorneys General, express my personal commitment to their mission, and ask what more the office can do to better protect citizens from the harmful and regressive policies of the Trump Administration. I will then work to ensure there are legal teams assigned and fully resourced to use the powers of the office to combat unconstitutional federal policy positions in areas such as criminal justice and police reform, immigration, education, voting rights, civil rights, and the environment.

    Priorities will include:

    • Filling the void left by the Sessions DOJ in criminal justice reform and civil rights enforcement, including addressing over-incarceration, blocking policies and practices that discriminate against people of color and the LGBTQ community;
    • Finalizing or enforcing the consent decree between the office and the City of Chicago regarding police reform;
    • Continuing to litigate and advocate in support of DACA and sanctuary cities;
    • Using the legal process to address the DeVos roll-back of essential educational policies such as those regarding the investigation of sexual assault on campus and rights of student victims of loan fraud;
    • Vigilant oversight of the administration’s policies and legal strategies that have the potential to undermine voters rights; and
    • Continuing to advocate in support of important national environmental initiatives such as the Clean Power Plan, heightened vehicle emissions standards, and other programs that will reduce our carbon footprint and create cleaner air and water for future generations.

    The Attorney General has no obligation to support or enforce any federal policy. The duty of the Attorney General is to enforce the law, and most importantly the Constitutions of the United States and Illinois. If the Trump administration (or any administration) makes an executive order or some policy that violates the Constitution, it is my duty as Attorney General to go to court and challenge that action. For example, the Muslim ban should be challenged because it is a clear violation of federal law and the Constitution. Sanctuary cities and states are frequently debated and any city as well as the state can choose to not use local resources to enforce a federal enforcement priority. As Attorney General I will go to court to defend a city or the state’s decision to prioritize their resources how they see fit as long as it complies with the law and the Constitution. Finally, when the Trump administration refuses to enforce environmental protection laws and regulations (or other regulations), I will step in and fill that void.


    The Illinois Attorney General is not required to support or enforce unconstitutional or improper federal laws or policies of the Trump Administration. I will do everything possible to aggressively oppose those policies. The Trump Administration has enacted unconstitutional policies, undermined the rule of law, and at times asked states to violate their own laws. We need an Attorney General who will fight for our Constitution and our shared values.

    When I’m Attorney General, I’ll make sure the State of Illinois is at the forefront of the efforts of state Attorney Generals to resist unconstitutional and unlawful policies of the Trump Administration. The list of policies and laws that I would oppose is a long one, as the Trump Administration shocks our conscience on a regular basis. For example, I would fight efforts to use information obtained under DACA to deport people who have only known life as an American and I would fight to ensure that transgender Illinois residents have a right to serve their country in the military. I would fight the Trump Administration whenever the people of Illinois need someone to stand up for their rights.


    The Attorney General should aggressively challenge unlawful actions taken by the Trump Administration, such as its efforts to limit access to heath care and violations of the rights of immigrants. The Attorney General also must act when the federal government abrogates its responsibility to enforce the law in such areas as protecting the environment, civil rights, privacy rights, market competition, and workers rights. For example, we should all be concerned that the Administration is weakening enforcement of the environmental laws, thus sending a clear signal to polluters that there may be no response from the federal government to their illegal actions. State Attorney Generals must expand their efforts to prosecute polluters when the federal government fails to act.


    The office of a state attorney general has become a position of heightened importance during the Trump presidency because this administration in particular has aggressively sought to roll back policies that protect the legal and constitutional rights of ordinary people living in Illinois and throughout the country. Whether independently or in concert with attorneys general of other states, the Illinois Attorney General must be prepared to combat this administration’s attempts to undermine the Affordable Care Act by eliminating insurance subsidies and related regulations, roll back protections for students victimized by campus sexual assault and student loan fraud, weaken penalties for nursing homes where patients are put at risk, end guaranteed fair access online, expose voters to attacks on their privacy and bully local police into acting as immigration officers. I will sustain Illinois’ involvement in ongoing multi-state lawsuits against the federal government and will stand ready to defend the rights of Illinois residents whenever they are put in jeopardy.


    As Illinois Attorney General, I will continue to be a strong watchdog, protecting our rights against Trump’s radical agenda that continuously strives to roll back established fundamental protections. As a two-term Mayor, I have a proven record of fighting against the NRA, providing access to justice for women fleeing domestic violence as well as Dreamers and their families battling deportation. I have stood up for consumers’ rights, fought for equality for our LGBTQ communities, advocated for access to health care and reproductive choice, and spoken out against attacks on our environment. I will bring the same fight and conviction to the Office of Attorney General and will always be unyielding in my commitment to protect what is right.

    We cannot blindly support and enforce the policies of the Trump administration. Attorneys General around the country have a very important role to play in stopping the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back civil and human rights. For example, it was Attorneys General around the country, who have rightfully stood up against the Muslim ban, fought efforts to diminish the Affordable Care Act, and worked to preserve environmental protections. I am committed to being an Attorney General who isn’t afraid to fight back against unlawful and unconstitutional policies initiated at the federal level.


    All across the country, we are seeing state Attorneys General taking aggressive action to block the overreaches of this anti-immigrant, anti-Latino, anti-woman, anti-Muslim administration. I will join – and lead – similar challenges to the Trump Administration’s discriminatory and unconstitutional actions across a wide range of issues. These will include:

    Reproductive Rights

    The Trump Administration’s rollback of the ACA’s contraception mandate is clearly discriminatory. The women of Illinois have the right to equal access to preventive medicine. I am hopeful that the current lawsuits focused on these issues will prevail within the coming year. If they do not, I will be proud to fight in the courts to protect reproductive health rights in Illinois.

    Student Loan Protections

    I believe that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos violated federal law when she rescinded the possibility of loan forgiveness for students who were misled or defrauded by abusive for-profit colleges that have cheated students – and taxpayers – out of billions of dollars in federal loans. Attorney General Madigan already has filed suit on behalf of Illinois students who were defrauded by now-defunct for-profit schools; I will continue that fight when I take office.

    Healthcare Access

    Access to affordable healthcare is under constant attack by this White House, but Attorneys General nationwide are standing up on behalf of their constituents. Attorney General Madigan is part of a coalition that has moved to intervene in a lawsuit to end cost-sharing subsidies that are a cornerstone of the ACA. The Trump Administration is not planning to defend against the lawsuit, which was filed by House Republicans. It is very appropriate for state Attorneys General to take up this fight, because the end of the subsidies will disrupt the states’ health insurance markets and will increase the number of uninsured people, raising states’ Medicaid costs.

    Environmental Protections

    Protecting the environment is one of the Attorney General’s core responsibilities. This role has become even more important as Trump has moved to eviscerate the Environmental Protection Agency. I am outraged by Trump’s continuing attempts to put polluters in charge of the U.S. EPA. The loss of federal environmental protections is especially crucial in Cook County, where polluters have often chosen to target low-income communities that have not had the political clout to protect their health and the health of their children. As Attorney General, I will take action to stop polluters who threaten the quality of our air and our water – especially our beautiful Lake Michigan.

    Immigration and DACA

    Trump built his campaign on jingoistic opposition to immigration. His decision to abolish the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) isn’t just morally repugnant; it also is economically foolish to try to deport nearly 800,000 young people who are beginning their careers – and who are paying taxes and making contributions to our nation’s economy. I am hopeful that the negotiations now under way in Washington will result in a new DREAM act that will make it possible for these promising young people to continue to live, work, and go to school here in the United States. If no agreement is reached, however, I will join Attorneys General across the country in battling Trump’s peremptory action on the grounds that it violates the Constitutional right to due process.

    Net Neutrality

    I commend Attorney General Madigan’s participation in the multi-state lawsuit challenging the FCC’s vote to dismantle net neutrality. When Donald Trump chose Ajit Pai – a former Verizon executive – as the FCC chair, he was putting a fox in charge of the henhouse. The FCC’s wrongheaded decision will have enormous consequences for all of us. Students will lose access to educational materials, and small businesses and start-ups won’t be able to reach their customers – all while big telecommunications companies rake in record profits. Again, I hope this problem will be solved in the next year. If not, I will continue to stand up for Illinois consumers and the freedom of the internet.