4 The Record

Kwame Raoul says he can't be bought by controversial tobacco executive donation

Illinois Democratic attorney general nominee points to record

Democratic attorney general candidate for Illinois and State Senator Kwame Raoul joined 4 The Record for a conversation this week. This is the second part of that interview.

House speaker Mike Madigan is a favorite target among Republicans. He's also taken a lot of heat for his handling of sexual harassment claims within his office.

An independent investigator is now looking into this. Certainly his daughter couldn't do it as the current attorney general.

Raoul discussed how much the attorney general should be involved in this case or others like it.

"Whether it's Mike Madigan or anybody else, if there's something that breaks the law or something that's not in the public interest, it would be my job as attorney general to look into it -- and I would," Raoul said.

A key role of a state attorney general is to protect the public from widespread illegal activity, corporate corruption, health violations and scams, for example.

One of the biggest alliances came 24 years ago when attorneys general across the country sued big tobacco and won for lying to the public about the danger of cigarettes.

Raoul's Democratic opponents in the primary criticized him for taking $100,000 in donations from tobacco executive Don Levin.
Levin, who also owns the Chicago Wolves, is fighting the state over money from the tobacco settlements.

Raoul explained why he accepted his money and why he expects the people of Illinois to trust him to protect their interests.

"The benefit I have is the benefit of a record," Raoul said. "If you look at my record, my voting record as to issues that impact use of tobacco, I've had a voting record that is 100 percent consistent with what the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association advocates. And so, I can't be bought by anybody. ... Nobody can point to any contribution that has impacted anything that I've done in public service. The advantage I have over my opponent is that I've served the public."

Lisa Madigan spent a large part of the last year and a half suing the Trump administration.

She's filed 28 lawsuits to fight white house policies on immigration, the affordable care act, energy efficiency regulations and more.

Raoul's opponent says she wouldn't pursue these cases because they're just political statements more than anything, but he's indicated he would follow Madigan's example.

Raoul talked about how effective that can be and what he sees as the most important thing to protect for Illinois by these lawsuits.

"I think the federal government is the gift that keeps on giving in terms of issues that attorneys general have to fight, whether it's access to healthcare -- I don't think that's political," Raoul said. "I'm a cancer survivor. My access to healthcare saved my life. I think that's worth fighting for and I don't think that's political. 3D guns, the most recent lawsuit... Trump himself is backing off of the initial position. If it were not for the attorneys general lawsuits, perhaps he would not have done so. That's not political, whether or not somebody takes an undetectable gun into a school or onto an airplane. I don't think that's political. That can be life and death."

Watch the full conversation in the video above.

Tune in to Local 4 every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. for 4 The Record, a weekly news and public affairs program focused on the issues important to you. It's a program unlike any other here in the Quad Cities. Moderator and Local 4 News anchor Jim Niedelman brings you up to speed on what's happening in the political arena, from Springfield, Des Moines, Washington, D.C. and right here at home.

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