Where Brenna Bird & Tom Miller stand on key issues in Iowa attorney general race




  • In US
  • 2022-10-04 10:53:32Z
  • By The Des Moines Register
 

Two candidates are competing to represent Iowa as attorney general, the state's chief legal officer.

Incumbent Democrat Tom Miller is running against Republican Brenna Bird, the Guthrie County attorney.

To help voters, the Des Moines Register sent questions to all federal, statewide and Des Moines area legislative candidates running for political office this year. Their answers have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Early voting begins Oct. 19 for the Nov. 8 election.

More:A guide to voter rights in Iowa. What you need to know before you cast a ballot

Who is Brenna Bird?

Age: 46

Party: Republican

Where did you grow up? A farm near Dexter

Current town of residence: Rural Dexter

Education: Bachelor's degree, Drake University; law degree, University of Chicago

Occupation: Guthrie County attorney

Political experience and civic activities: Guthrie County attorney since 2018, prosecutor since 2016, president-elect of the Iowa County Attorney Association, counsel to Gov. Terry Branstad

Who is Tom Miller?

Age: 78

Party: Democrat

Where did you grow up? Dubuque

Current town of residence: Des Moines

Education: Undergraduate, Loras College; law degree, Harvard Law School

Occupation: Iowa attorney general

Political experience and civic activities: I am the longest-serving attorney general in the nation. I've always tried to do the right thing, regardless of politics. I have built an office with a reputation for integrity, high-quality legal work and a commitment to working for Iowans. Taking on big tech, defending the Affordable Care Act and creating one of the strongest consumer protection divisions in the country, I have always been the people's lawyer. I am running for reelection to keep a strong independent voice in the Attorney General's Office to protect Iowans from fraud, dangerous corporate overreach and criminal offenders.

More:What the 3 candidates running for Iowa's 4th Congressional District say about abortion, guns

What do you see as the primary role of the Iowa attorney general's office? How would you help it achieve that mission?

Bird: Iowa's attorney general is the top law enforcement official in the state, and it is their responsibility to fight back against federal overreach. As attorney general, I would back our law enforcement, hold the Biden administration accountable and seek justice for victims of crimes. Working across the state, I've also heard from the law enforcement community, farmers, and stakeholders in our justice system about what can be done better. The message I've heard is that we need an Attorney General who is willing to be engaged on the issues that matter most to Iowans.

Miller: Protecting and serving Iowans. My office does so in the following ways: protect consumers against fraud and abuse; prosecute murders, sexual abuse, and other serious crimes; defend criminal prosecutions across the state; serve crime victims; protect the taxpayers by providing expert legal advice to the state government; defend the state against lawsuits; and protect farmers against increasing concentration in the industry, fraud, and corporate abuses.

More:Meet Christina Bohannan & Mariannette Miller-Meeks, running for Iowa's 1st Congressional District

How would you navigate the attorney general's relationship with the Legislature and the governor's office?

Bird: It's the attorney general's job to enforce the laws that represent the state in court. Unlike the current attorney general, I would not let my own political ideology dictate enforcing and standing up for the laws of our state. The attorney general also has the responsibility to work alongside the legislature and governor's office to ensure that we are supporting our law enforcement, upholding the rule of law and the Constitution, and creating a justice system that protects our communities and stands up for victims of crime.

Miller: We have a duty to provide legal representation to the governor and the agencies and departments of state government. We do so in a professional and competent manner as we are ethically required to do. We also advocate for Iowa consumers and farmers before the governor and the Legislature. We propose and advocate for changes in the criminal law and support criminal justice reform before the legislature. As a member of the opposite party, we attempt to provide appropriate and objective legal guidance when called upon by the governor or legislature but push back on policies that are not in the best interest of Iowans, such as stripping away reproductive rights and other liberties from Iowans.

More:'Aren't you glad you live in Iowa?' Republican ads pounce on what's wrong with America

Consumer protection has been a big focus of this office. What further action would you focus on to protect Iowa consumers?

Bird: Fraudsters use technology, and the Attorney General's Office needs to keep up with the times to investigate fraud, cybercrime and financial crimes - and bring the perpetrators to justice. We have to do everything we can to protect consumers from fraudulent activity. That starts with investigating complaints, filing cases in the public interest, and educating Iowans on how to avoid scams.

Miller: As president of the National Association of Attorneys General this year, I've focused on tech threats facing Americans, especially to children and seniors. I will do everything possible to ensure that social media, e-commerce, and other firms do not threaten users' privacy, their pocketbooks or their well-being. I've also taken a lead in holding accountable the drug companies and others who contributed to the opioid crisis. We will work to challenge corporate mergers that would potentially harm Iowa consumers and farmers. We're looking into concentration in the fertilizer industry, which has led to high prices for farmers.

More:What Iowa 3rd District candidates Cindy Axne, Zach Nunn say on issues like abortion, inflation

What changes, if any, would you make to the way the attorney general's office handles criminal prosecutions?

Bird: The office needs a Special Victims Unit to prosecute crime. I would institute an audit of victim services to ensure victims and their families receive the support they need. All too often victims are forgotten by the criminal justice system. We would institute a Cold Case Unit to work alongside law enforcement to address unsolved crimes. Doing so would not only bring perpetrators to justice but provide closure to the families of victims.

Miller: My office has changed the way sexual assault investigations are done to benefit survivors. We train law enforcement and build relationships with sheriffs and police. We respect the authority of county attorneys and step in when asked to handle serious crimes. Our criminal divisions are at maximum capacity. In the last 8 years, our office has filed criminal charges in 1,500 cases. In the last 4 years, we committed 55 sexually violent predators after their prison terms were completed. We handle in the range of 600-1,000 criminal appeals a year. We also advocate to keep nonviolent offenders, such as low-level drug users, from filling our prisons.

More:What Ashley Hinson and Liz Mathis say about abortion, inflation in Iowa's 2nd District race

Under what circumstances do you believe the attorney general should challenge federal laws, rules or executive actions in court?

Bird: We are at a time when the federal government continues to interject itself into our lives, and my opponent isn't doing anything about it. Even if the Republican Party wins back seats in Congress, I expect two more years of President Biden's overreach to advance far-left causes. When I am elected, I'm prepared to take Joe Biden to court.

Miller: The job of attorney general is to serve Iowans first, not a partisan agenda. I've always done what I believe is the right thing, regardless of politics. Our office intervened at the U.S. Supreme Court to expand use of renewable fuels on behalf of Iowa farmers. We also supported the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. As attorney general, I will continue to scrutinize federal laws regardless of which party is in power. Leading out-of-state partisan legal challenges requires a lot of taxpayer resources that would be better used serving Iowans and not the whims of national political parties.

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This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Meet Iowa attorney general candidates in midterm elections 2022

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