Editor’s Note: This question-and-answer interview with Democratic legal professional preferred candidate William Tong is the first in a chain of profiles of the five candidates vying for the process.
As the race for Connecticut lawyer general winds down to its final two months earlier than the primaries and less than 5 months earlier than the general election, the 5 candidates were crisscrossing the nation searching out votes.
Gun violence, the opioid epidemic, strengthening anti-discrimination laws and problems related to the surroundings have been within the forefront a number of the 3 Democratic and two Republican applicants for the task as the state’s top lawyer.
State Rep. William Tong, D-Stamford, who is the first Asian-American to serve within the Connecticut General Assembly, believes his report as an attorney and as chairman of the kingdom’s House of Representative’s Judiciary Committee makes him extra than certified to be successful George Jepsen as lawyer fashionable.
The forty five-12 months-antique Tong represents the kingdom’s 147th District, which includes parts of Stamford and New Canaan. He has been vocal in combating discrimination and in his assist of gay rights and gun manipulate. Tong gained the Democratic endorsement for lawyer trendy. He held a press conference Thursday calling for the advent of a civil rights department in the Office of Attorney General.
Tong is the son of Chinese immigrants and is currently of recommending at Finn, Dixon & Herling. He turned into a lawyer with the international regulation firm Simpson Thatcher & Bartlett. He obtained his regulation diploma from the University of Chicago Law School in 2000 and is a member of the Connecticut and New York bars.
The Connecticut Law Tribune spoke to Tong Friday morning. Answers had been edited for period and readability.
Connecticut Law Tribune: This week you called for the creation of a civil rights department within the Office of Attorney General. Why is any such department wanted and the way might that division perform?
William Tong: It’s needed due to the fact so many of us since we have a target on our return. I assume that among the rights and liberties we’ve end up aware of, and can have been taken without any consideration, are at the chance.
Obviously, the Masterpiece Cake Shop case, wherein a choice turned into issued currently by way of the U.S. Supreme Court, demonstrates that a simple rely of a gay couple searching to shop for a wedding cake is in question, and that a gay couple can be concern to discrimination in exercising a right they have got right here in Connecticut and some other place, that’s to get married.
We’ve additionally seen that Starbucks [cafes] throughout us of a have had shutdowns and feature passed through enormous range education due to, essentially, racial profiling. To bring it domestically to Connecticut, you can keep in mind that I wrote and reinforced a revamping of the nation hate-crimes laws simply final yr. I did so because of incidents of hate, like in my domestic city of Stamford, wherein the ugliest word become spray-painted throughout a storage door and there were photographs fired and bomb threats in opposition to mosques and synagogues in other parts of the kingdom.
A civil rights department would function just like it does in Massachusetts. They even have a civil rights department in New York, Washington kingdom, and California, among other places. I suppose my buddy, Maura Healey, who is the attorney standard in Massachusetts, has brought energy underneath her country’s statutes to assert claims on behalf of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to implement national and federal civil rights laws.
The key difference is that in a civil rights division, the legal professional standard would be declaring the claims and interest of the state of Connecticut, rather than the personal rights of an unmarried claimant.
CLT: In your April statement for legal professional trendy, you took aim at President Donald Trump. You said, “The president of the US has declared war on you and your family. And, that’s why I am walking for attorney popular. The attorney fashionable is the first and remaining line of protection towards the powerful forces bearing down on us in Connecticut.” What, especially, will you do as attorney standard to counter what you notice as a conflict at the American circle of relatives?
Tong: It’s a number of things. For instance, there may be the dismantling of the Consumer Financial Protection Board, CFPB. The board turned into created with the aid of the Dodd-Frank Act. The monetary crisis and the foreclosures disaster have been specifically merciless to Connecticut. I recognize this because I became chairperson of the Banking Committee at the peak of the monetary disaster. I took on the big banks and rewrote the nation foreclosures legal guidelines which, at that time, helped heaps of Connecticut families live off their houses.
The kingdom legal professionals popular have larger concurrent jurisdiction with the CFPB underneath Dodd-Frank, so, honestly, if the CFPB doesn’t, the attorney widespread can act. And, I will act.
Also, in reality on immigration, President Trump has taken purpose at our state’s immigrants, who are so quintessential of our kingdom’s financial system and network. These are immigrants like my dad and mom. As attorney general, I will get up to the Trump management to protect immigrants and to bolster our sanctuary legal guidelines, just like the TRUST Act. The TRUST lays out whilst the state will and will not cooperate with federal immigration government.
CLT: How, specifically, might a William Tong Attorney General’s Office be special from a George Jepsen Attorney General’s Office?
Tong: One instance is that I could create a civil rights department. I might additionally give a boost to the economic protection and anti-financial fraud efforts, which Attorney General Jepsen has been a leader on. I might move even similarly, even though.
I think, like George and prefer Sen. Richard Blumenthal [who served as attorney general before Jepsen], I apprehend the activity of legal professional popular isn’t truly to practice the regulation, however, to trade it. I might be a fair extra forceful presence inside the Legislature, leveraging my revel in as chairperson of the [House of Representatives] Judiciary Committee and my relationships with the legislators to push the Legislature and the governor on vital troubles like gun violence, monetary protection, patron safety, and other important problems that require legislative action.
CLT: You have been very vocal in your critique of the National Rifle Association. Your website says, in the component, “William took at the NRA and won, protective sufferers of home violence by way of taking weapons far away from their abusers.” What, particularly, can and could you do as attorney trendy to cope with Connecticut’s gun legal guidelines?
Tong: No. 1, I actually have unfinished commercial enterprise, as subsequent yr, we can bypass a ban on ghost guns. This 12 months, we had a bill to prohibit ghost weapons, which can be gun kits that you may purchase online and you may bring together at home. The weapons have no serial number and no registration of wide variety.
No. 2, if Congress passes a regulation to require us to apprehend gun allows from different states, the so-referred to as Conceal Carry proposal, I will do the whole thing I can to prevent them, which includes filing fit.
It has been my honor to be the foremost leader on our kingdom gun laws, in the combat against gun violence, in the House of Representatives and I don’t plan to forestall now.
CLT: As you realize, the opioid epidemic in the kingdom is on the rise. George Jepsen said he’s proud of the way the legal professional trendy’s office underneath his management has tackled the problem. He points to October 2017 while Connecticut joined forty other legal professional preferred places of work within the united states to difficulty subpoenas to numerous pharmaceutical drug manufacturers for statistics approximately how the groups market opioids. What, especially, will you do as lawyer general to cope with the opioid disaster?