Sunday, January 25, 2009

Blumenthal, the Nation’s Worst Attorney General


In 2007, the Competitive Enterprise Institute compiled a report titled “The Nation’s Top Ten Worst State Attorneys General.” Topping the list at number one was Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal; Elliot Spitzer, drummed out of office by a sex scandal, was third.

Bill Lockyer, number two in the 2007 listing, has since been elevated to State Treasurer of California, which is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

If Blumenthal does decide to run for governor, there are ten other “worst” attorneys general who will be vying for the first position.

“Over the past decade,” said Hans Bader, Counsel for Special Projects at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, “attorneys general have increasingly usurped the role of state legislatures and Congress by using litigation to impose interstate and national regulations and to extract money from out-of-state defendants. The worst offenders flaunt such abuse of power, with the most notorious of the lot … boasting that he ‘has redefined the role of Attorney General,’”

Blumenthal continues to redefined his role, recently as the new CEO wannabe of AT&T.

"There's a rumor going around that the AG doesn't like AT&T,” Blumenthal said at an anti-AT&T union rally. “Well, I love AT&T. And when they start paying fair wages, when they start keeping jobs here, when they start playing by the rules, Connecticut will love AT&T."

The AT&T workers, according to one report, surrounded Blumenthal and chanted, “Governor Blumenthal.”

Power wise, election to the gubernatorial chair would be a step down for the nations “worst” attorney general.

In response to a shift in business from land line operations to wireless service, AT&T has announced that it is cutting its Connecticut workforce of 6,800 employees by 400 jobs; the company also will transfer another 60 jobs to Michigan. AT&T's landline voice service was down 8 percent in 2008, while its wireless service was up 15 percent.

The day after the news broke, Blumenthal was on the protest line with AT&T workers expressing the conditions under which he would be prepared to love AT&T.

And, of course, Blumenthal’s affection is tied to the power of his office, so unrestrained by judges as to propel him into the number one spot as CEI’s worst attorney general.

Naturally, AT&T is not willing to assume the prone position so that the attorney general may more easily grind its face in the dirt.

"This is not about AT&T. This is not about Blumenthal. This is about the kind of message Connecticut is sending to business — a state that has no positive job growth and] people who are falling over themselves to prove that they're pro-consumer by showing they're anti-business," said AT&T spokesman Dave Mancuso. Look at the states where companies are investing and I think you'll see very different dynamics."

To which independent telecom analyst Jeff Kagan of Atlanta adds, “All of a sudden, they're going to take a big, strong company, and they're going to squeeze it dry. If every state tried to exercise the same control, this company would be doomed. It wouldn't have any control over its future or any control over being competitive."

Blumenthal has asked the state’s Department of Public Utility Control to block the layoffs.

Blumenthal likes to boast that he earns for the state $14 for every dollar spent by his office in producing legislation and filing suits. But that accounting is questionable. We do not know how much in business taxes Blumenthal has cost the state in jobs and business lost through his punitive suits and questionable legislation.

The message Blumenthal is sending out to current Connecticut businesses and prospective business may be more costly than is generally supposed by adulatory commentators, timid governors and supine judges.
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