About that attorney general campaign ­— top 10 questions for incumbent Rob McKenna

I am Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg, a former 14-year elected prosecutor currently challenging Republican incumbent Rob McKenna for Attorney General. I have been campaigning for months on a simple platform: reform the Attorney General’s office to get results on consumer protection, identity theft and investigate high fuel costs — not simply issue press releases and pursue so-called public service announcements to advance a political agenda.

  • Wednesday, August 27, 2008 12:00am
  • Opinion

I am Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg, a former 14-year elected prosecutor currently challenging Republican incumbent Rob McKenna for Attorney General. I have been campaigning for months on a simple platform: reform the Attorney General’s office to get results on consumer protection, identity theft and investigate high fuel costs — not simply issue press releases and pursue so-called public service announcements to advance a political agenda.

With both myself and McKenna unopposed in the primary election, the race has received scant attention. But given the important role of the Attorney General as the state’s top law enforcement officer and frequent use of the office as a springboard for higher office ambitions, I have offered the following suggestions for upcoming coverage of the race.

Top 10 Questions for Attorney General Rob McKenna:

10. You claim credit for progress on consumer protection, yet the Federal Trade Commission reports that Washington ranks 49th out of 50 states. What is your record on consumer protection?

9. Similarly, you trumpet your concern for identity theft, yet Washington is among the 10 worst states in the nation. Studies indicate that any “progress” in Washington’s ranking is due to other states suffering greater incidence of ID theft, not fewer cases here at home. How have you improved the security of Washington residents?

8. Washington consumers pay some of the highest fuel prices in the nation, yet your $300,000 taxpayer funded “investigation” found no wrongdoing by the oil industry. Past Attorneys General, Democrat and Republican have used their investigative powers to actually delve into industry practices and reduce costs for consumers. Since you put no witnesses under oath and produced no subpoenas, why did you stand against consumers by issuing a report clearing the oil industry of any wrongdoing without holding an actual investigation?

7. You recently changed your position on a bill that holds realtors accountable if they knowingly mislead consumers. Your office supported the bill when it was under public and legislative scrutiny, but then you told the realtor’s political operation that you opposed the legislation, seemingly to earn their campaign support. Why did you change your position on the bill and why are you claiming you were against it from the start when you were not?

6. Several attorneys general in other states have brought lawsuits against Countrywide and other lenders for improper lending practices targeting low income, often minority, homebuyers. The Governor’s office has taken unilateral action, but you have refused to act. Why?

5. Your office didn’t attend, let alone testify, at 2008 committee hearings to update the state’s Consumer Protection Act, despite weighing in on dozens of other bills. Why?

4. Your campaign has come under scrutiny for so-called “Public Service Announcements,” equating $150,000 in air time, that ran on cable TV for months with great frequency and paralleled your campaign messages. Your counterpart, Sam Reed, took a different approach: a PSA discussing the Top 2 primary that didn’t use his voice, image or even display his name. Why do you not support your opponent’s proposal that elected officials should follow Reed’s example and not allow their image or voice to be used on PSAs during an election year?

3. In 2004, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other ideological organizations spent over $1 million on controversial, illegal attack ads against your opponent. Do you anticipate similar assistance with your campaign this year?

2. What is the one case you have brought on behalf of Washington consumers that are you most proud of in your term as AG?

1. Since you have never tried a case or had significant legal experience or worked in criminal justice, have you ever met McGruff the Crime Dog, and do you think he would support you or your opponent in this race?

For his part, Ladenburg said: “ask me anything, my record as a private practice attorney, prosecutor and executive are an open book.”

John Ladenburg is currently the Pierce County Executive and is running for Attorney General.

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