Jessica Kordas, a Republican candidate for Attorney General, is a rarity – a competent litigator running for an office that depends largely upon litigation experience. William Tong, the present occupant of the office, has had litigation experience. Former Attorney General Dick Blumenthal, who had managed during his twenty years as Attorney General to drape himself in favorable publicity, had little litigation experience.
Kordas’ mission is both reasonable and necessary. “I am seeking the office of Attorney General of Connecticut,” she says, “because it is time to stand up and demand that the government, and the state’s largest law firm, works for the people. The office of the Attorney General, and the government, must no longer be a platform for self-interested politicians.”
In the case of Blumenthal, who once joked about himself that he had been known to make appearances “at garage door openings,” nearly all his too frequent appearances having been tenderly covered by Connecticut’s legacy media, the arrow strikes home.
When Blumenthal moved on from his secure 20 year sinecure to the U.S. Senate, he left behind more than two hundred cases for his successor, George Jepsen, formerly a Chairman of the state Democrat Party, to dispose of.
Jepsen, much to his credit, rescued Blumenthal’s targets from seeming endless litigation, and it must be supposed that some of them were permitted to resume a normal life, free of the Damoclean Sword suspended over their heads for months and years once Blumenthal had targeted them.
The office itself, politicized by former Attorneys General, is badly in need of a tender therapeutic massage. The Attorney General’s office must always be more than a stepping stone to greater personal glory.
In the colonial period the office was styled “The King’s Lawyer,” principally devoted to representing the chief executive in legal matters. Throughout the years, the office has maintained this character and, in the post-colonial period the office has chiefly represented both the governor and his or her agencies.
Whistleblowers present a serious problem. State employees who blow the whistle on agency incompetence or, worse, corruption often find themselves caught in a process maze, always bewildering and subject to political manipulation.
Whistleblowers directed to the Attorney General's office find themselves ground to dust by two massive political millstones. The office is statutorily obligated to defend both the Governor and state agents from – guess who? – whistleblowers. At the same time, the whistleblower is led to believe that he or she will be fairly treated by the very office appointed to defend those accused by the whistleblower. It is safe to assume there is not in Connecticut a single judge, defense attorney or prosecutor who sincerely believes that justice of any kind is dispensed when an adjudicating authority serves as both defense council and prosecutor.
Kordas at least acknowledges the problem and, in a conversation with this writer, suggested that the problem could be resolved by reconstituting the office of Inspector General in Connecticut.
Positive reform does not frighten her. On her own site, she has said that the office should be a force for good, and she imagines herself advocating for “parental rights, freedom of speech and a return to integrity and accountability.”
Accountability necessarily involves superintendence by voters. “Citizens,” she says, “must stand up and challenge the political status quo to provide honest and effective leadership for a critical Constitutional office. She understands, what an Attorney General must always hold close to [his or her] heart, that our Freedoms are ours without question, they never have to be ‘earned.’”
The first responsibility of an office that has been called “the people’s lawyer” by some campaign conscious Attorneys General is to withdraw from a self-absorbed, self-serving political posturing, and to represent the people’s interests rather than ideological party interests. At least two former Attorneys General – Joe Lieberman and Blumenthal –have used the office as a staging area for promotion into the U.S. Senate.
Tong very likely has set his sights on the same goal.
“As Attorney General,” Kordas has said, she will devote a good portion of her inexhaustible energy, in representing “the interests of the state of Connecticut, while ensuring and protecting the rights and civil liberties guaranteed to all citizens of Connecticut.”
A practicing attorney – somewhat unusual in that office, she jokes -- Kordas “has managed large scale criminal defense and life-altering injury litigation along with negotiating and drafting agreements dividing a variety of complex income and asset structures,” and this practical experience, she believes, provides her with the “critical skills and experience to be an effective Attorney General.”
Her dominant sense of humor rising to the surface, she hints -- if people want change, why not vote change in for a change? “A practicing attorney as Attorney General – imagine that!”
Don Pesci is a political columnist of long standing, about 40 years, who has written for various state newspapers, among them The Journal Inquirer, the Waterbury Republican American, the New London Day, the Litchfield County Times, the Torrington Register Citizen and other Register Citizen papers. He maintains a blog, among the oldest of its kind in Connecticut, which serves as a repository and archive, for his columns; there are approximately 3,000 entrees in Connecticut Commentary: Red Notes From A Blue State, virtually all of them political columns stretching back to 2004. He also appears once a week Wednesdays on 1080 WTIC Newstalk radio with Will Marotti.