Your Voice, Your Vote 2012: The Race for Attorney General
Incument Attorney General Greg Zoeller (R) and Kay Fleming (D) (WIBC.com file photos: Eric Berman)
The race for attorney general pits the Republican incumbent against an Indianapolis attorney.
Greg Zoeller emphasized his experience as chief deputy attorney general when he ran for the top job and won in 2008. Four years later, he says it's even more important than he thought.
Democrat Kay Fleming faults Zoeller for defending too many constitutional challenges to state laws, from an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood to restrictions on immigration. Zoeller notes the legislature and state agencies are the attorney general's client, and it's his job to represent them. Fleming concedes the point, but says there should be more discussions warning legislators of constitutional obstacles before laws are passed.
Fleming does credit Zoeller for throwing in the towel on the immigration law. Zoeller says that was a rare instance in which the U-S Supreme Court issued a ruling on Arizona's immigration law which was directly on point with Indiana's law, leaving no way to defend it.
The candidates also disagree over Zoeller's decision to join 25 other states in challenging the federal health care law. Fleming says there was no benefit to the state. Zoeller says the one constitutional challenge the Supreme Court upheld is one he initiated when he joined the case: the court says states can't be threatened with a loss of Medicaid funds for declining to go along with the law's expansion of Medicaid.
Fleming says she'd open regional offices around the state to assist local prosecutors. She notes a single major case can overwhelm a small county's budget and manpower. She says the attorney general's office could either assist with those cases, or cover day-to-day needs while local prosecutors handle the case.
Zoeller says he wants to broaden the office's consumer-protection efforts, doing more to help fraud victims in addition to prosecuting fraud artists.
Zoeller's already announced plans to handle court appeals of Department of Child Services rulings, and says he plans to do more to manage DCS's attorneys around the state. Fleming applauds the move toward handling appeals, but says Zoeller could have done it immediately instead of waiting until the new year.