After 60 years, time for a GOP AG?

Pritzker says change would bring checks, balances to state government

Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer//October 20, 2014

After 60 years, time for a GOP AG?

Pritzker says change would bring checks, balances to state government

By Steve Lash

//Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer

//October 20, 2014

Jeffrey N. Pritzker, the Republican nominee for attorney general, says Maryland needs a top lawyer who’s willing to stand up to the Democratic stronghold in Annapolis — both in the General Assembly and, if necessary, the Executive branch.

“The Democratic monopoly in Maryland has no checks and balances,” Pritzker said recently at his Towson law office. “An independent attorney general can act as a safeguard to investigate whether what happens in Annapolis is in the best interest of the people of Maryland.”

As evidence of unchecked Democratic control, Pritzker points to the state’s failed healthcare exchange, the fee on stormwater runoff, a regulatory environment that he says has compelled businesses to leave the state, and gun-control measures that he says make it harder for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves.

He said the said he would investigate the bidding process that went into the state’s selection of its former healthcare exchange contractor, and pursue litigation against that company — Fargo, N.D.-based Noridian Healthcare Solutions LLC. (The state has since switched to Deloitte Consulting, which operates the health exchange in Connecticut.)

“Nobody was looking out for the people of Maryland” in the selection and oversight of Noridian, said Pritzker, a civil litigator for much of his 40-year legal career. The Democratic leadership “just didn’t do anything.”

If elected, Pritzker would be Maryland’s first Republican attorney general since Edward D.E. Rollins Sr.’s term ended in 1954 — and Rollins was appointed, not elected to the post. No Republican has run for the office since 2006, and Pritzker is running lean: of $1,600 collected since he declared his candidacy in February, the candidate had $1,287.81 in his bank account as of his last campaign finance report, filed Aug. 19.

Also on this year’s ballot are Libertarian Leo Wayne Dymowski, 58, a hearing officer with the Maryland Parole Commission; and Sen. Brian E. Frosh, a Democrat who has served nearly 28 years in the General Assembly and who has backed or sponsored many of the laws that Pritzker hopes to undo.

Shortly after taking office, Pritzker said, he would convene a task force of business leaders, consumer groups and attorneys to examine state regulations and “prune away” those deemed unduly burdensome on companies.

“Business people don’t know which way to turn,” said Pritzker, of Margolis, Pritzker, Epstein & Blatt P.A. “Businesses spend more time on compliance than they do on the product for which they went into business.”

Pritzker noted that, as attorney general, he would serve as counsel to state agencies and thus would advise them on the scope of their regulatory enforcements.

“There has to be some balance” between the needs of businesses and the safety of consumers, he said. “There hasn’t been any balance.”

Pritzker, who joined the Maryland bar in 1974, said he would also follow former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s lead and challenge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s command that states regulate stormwater as a pollutant.

The U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va., ruled last year that EPA exceeded its authority because rain and the stormwater it produces are not pollutants under federal law. The EPA chose not to appeal the decision, citing ongoing discussions with Virginia regarding ways to prevent stormwater runoff.

Maryland’s similar law calls on several counties and Baltimore city to impose fees on stormwater runoff — what opponents call a “rain tax” — to reduce the amount of sediment flowing into Chesapeake Bay.

Pritzker also said he opposes the 2013 Firearm Safety Act, particularly provisions giving Maryland State Police what he called ill-defined, “arbitrary and capricious” discretion to deny concealed-carry permits.

“I truly don’t believe that those [gun-control] laws are constitutional,” Pritzker said.

Nevertheless, Pritzker said, he would defend the law in court, adding that it would be his obligation as attorney general.

He quickly added, however, that he is also obliged to bring to the court’s attention those cases that found gun restrictions violated the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

“The state of Maryland has determined what is the law,” he said. “I would have to do my job but also be candid with the court with regard to what the other side says, the other cases.”

Pritzker, 65, said he is “at a point of my life when I want to do something for the state of Maryland. I believe Maryland truly needs a change.”

His positions are directly at odds with those of Frosh, the 68-year-old outgoing chair of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. Frosh has campaigned on his chief sponsorship of the Firearm Safety Act and longstanding support for environmental regulations.

Pritzker said Frosh is part of the Democratic “power structure” that has ruled Annapolis for too long.

“If he is elected, the people of Maryland can expect more of the same,” said Pritzker. “If you like what we have, vote for my opponent. If you want change, vote for me.”

Tomorrow: Our candidate profiles continue with Sen. Brian E. Frosh, Democrat.


Party: Republican

Age: 65

Partner, Margolis, Epstein, Pritzker & Blatt P.C. in Towson

Joined Maryland Bar: Dec. 1, 1974

Alma Mater: University of Maryland School of Law, 1974

Slogan: “An attorney general for the citizens of Maryland.”


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