Del. Aisha N. Braveboy, a Democratic candidate for Maryland attorney general, says that sometimes the state’s top lawyer has to say no.
For example, Braveboy said, if she were attorney general she would have demanded the state settle a long-running desegregation lawsuit by its historically black colleges and universities over duplicate academic programs at predominantly white colleges. And if no settlement could be reached, Braveboy said, the state would have had to find outside counsel, because she could not defend the violation of constitutional rights.
The federal lawsuit, filed in 2006, resulted last October in a finding against the state, and mediation over the remedy continues.
“You want an attorney general who has a conscience,” said Braveboy, 39, who chairs the General Assembly’s Legislative Black Caucus. “This isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about doing what’s right.”
An attorney general must “acknowledge and accept that this state was wrong,” Braveboy said. “The state has been wrong, but we’re going to make it right.”
The second-term delegate and attorney is running an underdog race against two more experienced, better-known contenders: Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Chair Brian E. Frosh, 67, of Montgomery County, who has served in the General Assembly since 1987; and the current frontrunner, Del. Jon S. Cardin, 44, of Baltimore County, with 12 years’ experience in the General Assembly and high recognition of the name he shares with his uncle, a U.S. senator.
Braveboy, however, said she is unbowed as the June 24 primary election nears and says she has the hands-on experience to handle the legal issues that have bedeviled the state in recent years.
Specifically, Braveboy points to her pro bono work assisting homeowners facing foreclosure in Prince George’s County, which was especially hard-hit by the foreclosure crisis. She also cites her representation of young nonviolent offenders, in which she has argued that they should be assigned to diversion programs rather than imprisoned.
The attorney general’s office provides foreclosure assistance through money the state collected under a nationwide settlement with lenders, Braveboy said. The attorney general can also provide a strong voice with regard to juvenile justice issues, she added.
“I am uniquely qualified to deal with these issues,” Braveboy said. “The attorney general’s office can be proactive.”
In running for attorney general, Braveboy is spurning an incumbent bid for a third term in the House of Delegates. In addition to the Legislative Black Caucus, which she has chaired since 2012, Braveboy has served on the Economic Matters Committee since 2007 and has chaired its Consumer Protection & Commercial Law Subcommittee since 2011.
She says she first thought of running for attorney general during the 2012 legislative session. She announced her intention to do so in January 2013.
“It’s time for me to move on and to really impact the state in a different way,” said Braveboy, a 2000 Howard University School of Law graduate.
As attorney general, Braveboy said she would direct the Consumer Protection Division to investigate how lenders treat the properties they own after foreclosure. She contends that many lenders are neglecting the properties, which in turn drives down the property value of nearby homes.
Braveboy also said she would work with federal agencies to increase civil rights enforcement, particularly with regard to opportunities for minorities in state government and in public schools.
“This [attorney general’s] office is to ensure that our citizens are being treated fairly,” she said.
Braveboy added she would also be active in filing briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court in out-of-state cases that would have an impact in Maryland.
She cited the high court’s 5-4 decision last month in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, striking down aggregate contribution limits on political candidates, as a case in which Maryland should have filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief. Maryland’s own election law limited campaign contributions to $10,000 per election cycle, a limit the state will no longer enforce in light of the McCutcheon ruling.
“What happens in other states impacts us,” she said.
Braveboy said that if her bid for attorney general falls short, she will continue to provide legal representation for homeowners facing foreclosure and for teens facing detention or prison.
“I’m a lawyer,” added Braveboy, a member of the Maryland bar since 2000 and of counsel at The Law Offices of Gabriel J. Christian & Associates LLC in Bowie.
The winner of the Democratic primary will face off in the general election Nov. 4 against Baltimore County attorneys Jeffrey N. Pritzker, a Republican, and Leo Wayne Dymowski, a Libertarian.
AISHA N. BRAVEBOY
Birthdate and place:
July 29, 1974; Washington, D.C.
University of Maryland, College Park, B.A. (government and politics), 1997; Howard University School of Law, J.D., 2000.
Of counsel at The Law Offices of Gabriel J. Christian & Associates LLC in Bowie.
“I am absolutely advocating for the people of the state.”