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Who We Elect: Attorney General

52 minutes

We celebrate 100 episodes of #SundayCivics with another installment of our #WhoWeElect series focusing on the elected position of state attorney general. The state attorney general is the chief legal advisor to the state government and the state's chief law enforcement officer. We are joined by New York State Attorney General Letitia James who shares how she serves "the people".

The state attorney general is the chief legal advisor to the state government and the state's chief law enforcement officer. The state attorney general is an elected position in 43 states and majority serve 4 year terms. In Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Wyoming, the attorney general is appointed by the governor. For those of you listening in Tennessee, your state supreme court appoints the attorney general for an 8 year term and in Maine the state legislature votes for the attorney general for a 2 year term.

The National Association of Attorneys General describe the typical duties of the state attorney general; issue formal opinions to state agencies; act as public advocates in areas such as child support enforcement, consumer protections, antitrust and utility regulation; propose legislation; enforce federal and state environmental laws; represent the state and state agencies before the state and federal courts; handle criminal appeals and serious statewide criminal prosecutions; institute civil suits on behalf of the state; represent the public's interests in charitable trust and solicitations; and operate victim compensation programs.
Our Guest
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 12: Attorney General Letitia James interviews with L. Joy Williams on SiriusXM Urban View's Sunday Civics at SiriusXM Studios on February 12, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Bonnie Biess/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

Letitia “Tish” James is the 67th Attorney General for the State of New York. With decades of work, she is an experienced attorney and public servant with a long record of accomplishments. She is the first woman of color to hold statewide office in New York and the first woman to be elected Attorney General.

In 2013, Ms. James was elected Public Advocate for the City of New York and became the first woman of color to hold citywide office. As Public Advocate, Ms. James served as a watchdog over New York City government agencies and as an advocate for the City’s most vulnerable communities. She transformed the Public Advocate’s office to be a formidable engine for change.

Prior to serving as Public Advocate, Tish James represented the 35th Council District in Brooklyn in the New York City Council for ten years. As a Council Member, she passed the Safe Housing Act, legislation that forced landlords to improve living conditions for tenants in New York City’s worst buildings. She helped uncover the corruption behind the Office of Payroll Administration’s CityTime contract, a scheme that cost New York City over $600 million. She also pushed through a revolutionary recycling package that included expanding plastic recycling, a new clothing and textile recycling program, and increased access to recycling in public spaces.

Before her election to the City Council, Tish James served as head of the Brooklyn Regional Office of the New York State Attorney General’s Office. She resolved hundreds of consumer complaints and investigated predatory lenders who preyed on first-time homebuyers. She assisted the Civil Rights Bureau in its investigation of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy and cracked down on firms engaged in deceptive business practices including violations of human rights, environmental laws, and scams targeting immigrants.

Tish James began her career as a public defender at the Legal Aid Society. A proud Brooklynite, she is a graduate of Lehman College and Howard University School of Law.

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