Andrew McCullough's Blog

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Debate Breakthrough

After being excluded from the "official" debate sponsored by the "Utah Debate Commission", I was invited to an hour long debate with my Democratic opponent, Charles Stormont, on Thursday. The invite came only one day in advance, and was the result of the refusal of our current Attorney General to participate. Why should he? He is ahead and has all of the money. I thank the current Attorney General for his courtesy in deferring to me. It was an enjoyable experience. I wish I had more time to flesh out answers, but it was a big opportunity to be heard, after the media declined to admit that I exist. The streaming version is below.

We are on a roll. Tell a friend.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Salt Lake Times Article on my Candidacy.

This is the rough draft of an article to appear on the Salt Lake Times legal newspaper in the next week or so.

Utah Libertarian Makes His Case To Be Attorney General of Utah

By Alicia Knight Cunningham, Esq.

The Intermountain Commercial Record asked Libertarian Candidate W. Andrew McCullough to respond to questions regarding his party’s platform, why he’s running, his priorities if elected and his views on his chances of winning. His responses are highlighted below.

Why are you a member of the Libertarian Party? What part of the party’s platform resonates with you?

I am a freedom lover. I do not like the government telling me what to do. The Libertarian Party works for me. I was the Treasurer of the Young Republican Federation when I was young -- and naïve -- and I was active in Barry Goldwater’s campaign. I am a disaffected Republican because the Republican Party has become the party of the religious right. Republicans are on a moral crusade, and I do not agree with that. I am still a conservative on economic matters. I just want a more free society.

Why are you running?

I have been practicing law since 1973. I have seen over and over again attitudes in the Attorney General’s office that I think are unreasonable. For example, I had a beautiful young friend that had a slight speech impediment. She spoke a little slowly. She was stopped for a minor traffic violation and the officer wrote in her report: “The lights are on but no one is home.” The officer charged her with using drugs and took her down to the police station. He suspected marijuana test and inflicted her with a blood test. It took two weeks to get the result so he put her in jail. He tore her car apart looking for drugs. He demanded that they do a full body cavity search looking for drugs. I screamed bloody murder and the Attorney General’s office said: “To hell with you.” In the end, we got a small settlement, but it was not enough. I became a windmill tilting politician that day.

Again, four or five years ago I was sitting in my office. A man came into my office. He had just been released days before from prison where he was serving time for a crime he did not commit. He wanted compensation, and there was a new Utah law that allowed him to seek compensation. I talked to the Attorney General’s office and said, “You know and I know that he did not do it. He has an alibi. He has witnesses.” They said, “We do not care. We can block this on a technicality.” The District Court did rule against us, but the Court of Appeals granted the compensation. When I got the call that they were writing the check, I cried.

In both cases the Attorney General’s office should have represented the interest of the people. I do not think that the Attorney Generals we have had understand the proper role of their job.

What are your priorities if you win? Will you follow the platform of your party?

I do not deny that on a given day the majority of the people may disagree with what I might do. Last week the majority of the people in Utah wanted same sex marriage to be illegal. The majority lost. What won was individual freedom. It is in the interest of personal freedom for the state to stand aside and say ‘We do not care who you marry.’

We incarcerate more people than any other country in the world. Iran, China – those countries we think of as being oppressive -- we put more people in prison than they do. It needs to stop, and it needs to stop now. We should not spend millions of dollars putting people in jail because of a moral judgment.

Last weekend I spent a few hours at the rally against police violence. The police have become militarized. They have machine guns to use against their own citizens. Too many people have died. It must stop.

What do you think of your chances?

When I was in high school Social Studies was my thing. I remember studying class was Eugene Debs. He ran repeatedly for President of the United States as a Socialist. Obviously, he did not win. Someone asked him, why do you keep doing this? You never win. You’ll never win. He answered: “But I am winning. I am the one who suggested the 40 hour work week. My ideas are winning.” And if you look at same sex marriage and marijuana – we’re winning. They cannot stop us. I hope that I am part of the group that changes the future.

When my friend was strip searched, I realized that I was not doing enough. So I took out the soap box and stood on it. I will not win. But perhaps I can change some minds and help people realize that things can be changed.

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Thursday, October 02, 2014

A Change is Gonna Come

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune last week contrasted the positions of the “major party” candidates for Utah Attorney General. Mr. Reyes, the appointed incumbent, believes it is his job to defend the laws of the State of Utah as far as he can, including seeking review in the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Stormont, on the other hand, believes that it is not in the interests of the State to continue to appeal a case that is very expensive, and is hopeless. The difference is indeed important, but the Tribune did not ask the really important questions, and did not get the important answers.

Mr. Stormont is a career State employee. When he inevitably loses his race for Attorney General, he will go back to being as assistant Attorney General, and doing what he is told. Today, while on leave of absence, he talks about changes in the office; but he does not talk about the changes that are really necessary. Because the important issues have not been addressed by the “major party” candidates, I have chosen to make one more effort to put the important issues before the public.

The Attorney General is an elected position, in the Utah Constitution. Some have suggested he (or she) should be appointed by the Governor. The U.S. Attorney General is appointed, and he serves at the pleasure of the President. In Utah, the Attorney General is independent and makes policy for the legal department. He often files “friend of the Court” briefs in cases around the country, to support legal positions he believes are important and correct. He makes important decisions as to how to interpret and enforce the law. He can decide what civil actions to file, and what appeals to take. He has “Prosecutorial discretion” as to what criminal charges to bring, and when to make “plea bargains” in the interest of justice. In most of these cases, it will make little difference which of the “major party” candidates might be elected. It will be business as usual, either with the Republican politician or the career bureaucrat.

I am the consummate outsider. I have never worked for the government, and I am not influenced by what government employees think is good for the government. I prefer to look at the job as legal counsel for the people of the State of Utah, and will work to promote their interests.

The “war on drugs” has become a war on the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits “unreasonable searches and seizures.” The police have been trained to see this important right as a “technicality”, to be dodged when possible. If there is a suspicion of drugs, they WILL find a way to get into your car or your house or wherever they think they are. And the basis for their suspicion can be weak. They might say they smell the odor of marijuana. It is hard to deny that, because there is no physical evidence left over from that smell. Or, they may say there is an air freshener in the car, in an effort to prevent them from smelling the drug. In a recent case, a client was held on a minor traffic case, while dogs were brought in, because a check of her driving record showed a previous drug violation. If I am elected, one of the first things I will do is insist that all police officers receive training on the Fourth Amendment, and why it should be important to them as well as those who are suspected of wrongdoing.

Separate from the Fourth Amendment implications, the whole question of putting people in jail for nothing other than possessing a small amount of marijuana (or other drug, for that matter) for personal use, should be re-examined. It is a terrible policy, and it is making a whole generation of young people into criminals. I would do my best to stop the “war on marijuana users”. I am the only candidate who would do so.

There are other examples of our major differences. A few years ago, I represented a man who spent over 4 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. We filed a legal action to collect compensation, as set out in law, for such situations. To my dismay, the Attorney General fought us tooth and nail; and they won at the trial level. I appealed to the Utah Court of Appeals, and I won. The day the State issued the compensation check, I cried, because I knew that my efforts had brought justice for one person, despite the best efforts of the Attorney General to prevent it.

I am now involved in a couple of cases where regulatory agencies have asserted authority far in excess of what the actual legislative act gives them. Without exception, the Attorney General pushes for the most oppressive interpretation of the law. If I am elected, I will expect regulatory agencies to rein in their tendencies to over-regulate.

In 2004, the people of the State of Utah voted to eliminate most “civil Forfeiture”. This is done by filing a civil action against the PROPERTY of someone who may be suspected of a crime, and the property has no constitutional protections. The property is then taken by the police for their own use, even without a criminal conviction. I have had several cases where people have carried more money than the police think is reasonable. The money is taken from them, and it is up to them to show that they were not going to use it to purchase drugs, or for other illegal purposes. This should never happen, and I will work to change the policy of the State back to what the people voted for by ballot in 2004.

I have more experience in the legal system than either of my opponents; and I have seen first hand the kinds of things that the State has done to increase its power at the expense of the individual. If I am elected, you can count on a wholesale change of attitude in the Attorney General’s office. Tell a friend.

The revolution is here. You have nothing to lose but your chains.
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