Maryland Attorney General candidates weigh in on law enforcement issues, administration

·5 min read

Voters across the Free State will get to select the Democratic and Republican nominees for the state's top lawyer this month. The primary is July 19, but early voting runs from July 7 through July 14.

The USA TODAY Network in Maryland, which includes Delmarva Now/The Daily Times in Salisbury and The Herald-Mail in Hagerstown, sent questionnaires to candidates for attorney general.

Included were basic biographical questions, as well as opportunities to list websites and social media accounts so voters can learn more beyond just answers to the questions we asked. Responses were limited to 500 characters — the equivalent of more than two tweets.

The questionnaire was sent in mid-May, and follow-ups were made with those who hadn't responded by mid-June. Those who didn't answer by June 29 are listed below as "Did not respond."

Republican

Michael Anthony Peroutka

Home: Anne Arundel County

Jim Shalleck

Home: Montgomery Village, Montgomery County

Occupation: Attorney

Age as of July 19: 76

Campaign website: jimshalleck.com

Twitter: @shalleckforag

Facebook: www.facebook.com/shalleckforag

Instagram: @shalleckforag

Democrats

Anthony G. Brown

Home: Prince George's County

Occupation: U.S. representative

Age as of July 19: 60

Campaign website: anthonybrown.com

Twitter: @Brown4MD

Facebook: www.facebook.com/anthonybrown.maryland

Katie Curran O'Malley

Home: Baltimore City

Occupation: Retired judge

Age as of July 19: 59

Campaign website: katieformd.com

Twitter: @KatieforMD

Facebook: www.facebook.com/katiecurranomalleyformd

Instagram: @katieformd

Independently elected attorney general

Does the attorney general have an obligation to support all positions taken by the governor?

Peroutka

Did not respond.

Shalleck

No. The Attorney General is independently elected. He or she represents the people of Maryland not the Governor. Any position of the Governor that is against Maryland or Federal law is subject to opposition by the Attorney General. However, every effort should be made to work with the Governor to support positions that are lawful and in the best interest of the people of Maryland.

Brown

The Attorney General and the Governor are independently elected by the voters. While the Attorney General does not have an obligation to support all positions taken by the Governor, the Attorney General does have a constitutional obligation to represent the State of Maryland, including the Governor, in all matters in which the interests of the State are involved. The Maryland constitution also allows the Governor to employ additional counsel in any case, if authorized by the General Assembly.

O'Malley

There can be occasions when the faithful discharging of these duties could bring the OAG into conflict with the agencies of State government, including the governor and the Maryland General Assembly. It is the responsibility of the OAG to try and constructively work through these issues, offering advice and representation that serves the shared interests of the State government and the public it serves.

How should AG determine whether to file suit against federal government?

When do you believe the attorney general should take part in suits against the federal government?

Peroutka

Did not respond.

Shalleck

Only when the interests and well-being of the people of Maryland are infringed upon by the federal government. There is no room for politics in the Attorney General office. Any contemplated suits against the federal government must be based on facts and the effect on Maryland residents.

Brown

The 2017 Maryland Defense Act authorizes the AG to sue the federal government when its action/inaction threatens the public interest and welfare of our residents regarding health and the availability of affordable health care; public safety; civil liberties; economic security of workers and retirees; residents’ financial security; protecting against fraud and deceptive practices; protecting our natural resources and environment; or protecting against unlawful immigration and travel restrictions.

O'Malley

Brian Frosh set a great example for the next Attorney General when it comes to determining when to take part in lawsuits at the federal level, engaging only in lawsuits that affected Marylanders in a meaningful way. As the next AG, I will use the same test and will always ensure that the resources of the Attorney General’s office are utilized in the most efficient and effective way to protect Marylanders from violent crime and to fight for all of our fundamental rights.

Enforcing state laws

To what extent should the attorney general pursue litigation against violators of specific state laws, be it environmental, commercial, or law enforcement, etc.?

Peroutka

Did not respond.

Shalleck

Both criminal and/or civil lawsuits against these violators should be pursued when laws are broken. These prosecutions are necessary to punish violators and deter others from similar conduct. My personal view is that criminal prosecution is a better deterrent against law breaking.

Brown

While the general duties of the Attorney General involve litigation when necessary to enforce specific state laws, the overarching responsibility of the Attorney General is to protect the residents of Maryland. Protecting the public interest does not always require litigation. The Attorney General should use all authorities of the Office to investigate violations of the law and commence the appropriate action, and should do so in a manner that is most fair, efficient, and effective.

O'Malley

With 30 years of experience in Maryland courtrooms, I have firsthand knowledge of our legal system and how our state laws affect people. I will use that knowledge to protect citizens from gun violence, protect the environment, protect our workers from abuse and wage theft, and defend a woman's right to choose. It's critical that the next Attorney General have the experience to go to court to pursue litigation that affects Marylanders, and I'm the only one in this race with that experience.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail: Maryland attorney general candidates respond to queries on law, order