Dec 4, 2009
A love of the law and public service leads Whitmer to run for AG
LANSING – State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, has stood up for consumers and the vulnerable in the Senate, and now she wants to use the power of the law to stand up for those taken advantage of as she stumps for the nomination for Michigan Attorney General.
She is making the rounds of the grassroots party organization because the nomination is made at the Democratic Party convention, and she spoke at the quarterly meeting of the 8th Congressional Democratic District Committee earlier this week. The AG office has been in Democratic hands from 1961 until 2002, and over the years it has built up perhaps the best consumer protection record in the country. But that changed with the election of Republican Mike Cox.
Whitmer - who considers former AG Frank Kelley who held the post for 37 years a mentor and friend- wants to change that.
“After seven years of Mike Cox, we need to take it back and we need change,” she said. “The Attorney General is the people’s lawyer, and that’s how I see it.”
Cox has gutted consumer protection, and he has also quietly eliminated the hate crimes division.
The state’s economy has taken a beating as the auto industry almost went into bankruptcy, and Whitmer said she wants to take on the greedy special interest that try to profit off the economic crisis.
“People need to feel inspired and hopeful, and as we go into 2010, we need to focus on the future,” she said. “The challenges our state has faced have been big, and that’s an understatement; we need leaders that are independent and not controlled by special interests.”
Whitmer has been in the Legislature for the past 10 years, and she is a leading advocate for empowering consumers. She most recently fought to enact legislation cracking down on massive predatory mortgage lending scams, and is now working to outlaw those who want to exploit victims of foreclosure through fraudulent “rescue” services.
She has also fought to ensure citizens; are safe, and for that effort she was recognized in 2003 as the “Legislator of the Year” by the Michigan Sheriff’s Association.
She has introduced legislation that would end immunity for drug companies if their drugs kill or maim the people who take them, and it would repel the current ban enacted in 1996 designed to shield huge pharmaceutical companies from any responsibility. Michigan is the only state in the nation with that kind of drug shield law.
“We don’t have the right to sue like people in the 49 states,” Whitmer said. “We have Bill Schulte (One of the GOP candidates for AG) to thank for that.”
Whitmer earned her law degree from Michigan State University, and she worked in private practice until she joined Dickinson Wright, one of Michigan’s oldest and most respected law firms, as a corporate litigator. She specialized in regulatory and administrative law, arguing in both Circuit Court and before the Michigan Public Service Commission.
She has always had a love fort he law and public service because of her parents. Her father is an attorney and her mother was an assistant Attorney General for many years.
Whitmer said it was a case she worked on at Dickinson Wright that made her realize she was doing the wrong thing with her law degree, and it led her to give up the large paycheck she was earning for public service. She said an elderly couple was fighting a $40 overcharge they received on a utility bill; only she was working for the utility company.
“I realized as I was writing a brief; I went to law school to help people out, not to squash them,” she said.
Whitmer has been traveling around the state seeking grassroots support. In fact, she will be at the Livingston County Democratic Party’s holiday party this Saturday Dec. 5 at 4 p.m.
Her campaign is gaining steam, and she expects a new web site to go up soon and to open a campaign office. She has also hired Mark Burton as her campaign manger. He was the successful campaign director for the Michigan Stem Cell Ballot Question Committee last year, and he has worked on many other successful campaigns.
To volunteer for the campaign call (517) 372-5454 or email info@GretchenWhitmer.com.