CHICAGO, IL, February 10, 2018 — Aaron Goldstein, Democratic candidate for Illinois Attorney General, today responded to a February 7 Associated Press story incorrectly implying he has been avoiding the topic about his role as former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich’s defense attorney.
“This story makes a ridiculous claim,” said Goldstein. “I have never shied away from the fact that I served as a member of Blagojevich’s defense team. But the Blagojevich case hardly defines my career as a public defender and civil rights attorney, during which time I have tried hundreds of cases. My entire career has been about ensuring Illinoisans receive fair legal representation. That’s what makes the AP story so disingenuous.”
“The FAQ document my campaign widely distributed to journalists on January 11, and which has been available in my website’s newsroom, clearly addresses this matter. Also, I have spoken out publicly about it during the campaign,” he added.
The FAQ says:
Why did you defend former governor Rod Blagojevich?
I defended Blagojevich because he has rights and I believe that everyone is entitled to a fair trial and due process. My entire career has been about defending Illinoisans. I also defended NATO and Occupy Chicago protestors who were arrested for exercising their free speech. I defended a young immigrant who was arrested and charged with reckless conduct because of the clothes she wore. And I have defended the countless victims of the drug war.
After the first Blagojevich trial ended in a hung jury, I was appointed by the court to be his public defender for the second trial. A person’s right to proper defense is a fundamental right and has been an American tradition going back to John Adams. Just as we need to hold people accountable, we also need to protect people from prosecutorial overreach.
“The AP reporters, Sara Burnett, Sophia Tareen and Michael Tarm, never contacted me about Blagojevich,” said Goldstein. “If they had, I would have been happy to talk about it.”
Goldstein believes appropriate attention should be paid to the big money in the Attorney General race
“The real story in the Attorney General’s race is that big money continues to infect our political process. Taking big money from powerful businesses and utilities creates real conflicts of interest,” said Goldstein, “especially for the State’s top attorney. That’s why I don’t accept campaign contributions from big corporations.”
Attorney General candidate Kwame Raoul has accepted $100K in political contributions from big tobacco companies although the Attorney General’s office currently oversees a settlement against the tobacco industry. He and other candidates have also accepted thousands of dollars in political contributions from coal companies, ComEd, Exelon, and People’s Gas, utilities that the Attorney General must hold accountable in the name of the public interest.
“Taking this money creates a clear conflict of interest and if my opponents were elected, they would have to recuse themselves in several cases,” said Goldstein. “This would cost Illinois taxpayers a lot of money since outside lawyers would have to be brought in. Illinois deserves an Attorney General who has the judgment and integrity to avoid potential conflicts of interest. There is too much at stake on issues of the environment, consumer protection, and looking out for the interests of Illinois taxpayers, to trust that candidates who take big money will stand up for the people of Illinois.”
About Aaron Goldstein, Progressive Democratic Candidate for Illinois Attorney General
Attorney Aaron Goldstein is, first and foremost, a defender of the people, who believes in the fundamental right of all citizens to due process and fair legal representation. He is a Chicago native who earned his B.A. in political science from the University of Illinois in Champaign, and then earned his Juris Doctor, with distinction, from the University of Iowa School of Law, entering the State Bar of Illinois in 2000. He served in the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender from 2001 to 2007 as a defense litigator and attorney supervisor before founding his Chicago-based private practice as a defense attorney.
He has litigated more than 30 felony jury trials, 50 felony bench trials, and more than 100 felony motions. As a public defender, he has firsthand knowledge of the racial and ethnic inequities in the criminal justice system and the lack of re-entry opportunity for ex-offenders. He also has gained keen understanding of the legal techniques people in business and governmental leadership roles use to abuse their power.
In 2014, Goldstein was a Democratic candidate for Illinois State Representative of the 40th District. In 2016, he ran for Chicago’s 33rd Ward Democratic Committeeman and against very long odds, defeated 40-year incumbent Richard Mell, considered one of Chicago’s most powerful Democratic machine politicians and power brokers. Goldstein immediately initiated reforms to his ward’s judicial review and evaluation process and has been a vocal advocate for judicial reform in the Cook County Democratic Party ever since.
As a law educator, he has served as Adjunct Professor of Law at DePaul University School of Law and North Park University, where he has taught trial advocacy, criminal law and criminal procedure.
Goldstein lives in Chicago with his wife, Nicole, and their two daughters.
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