Where Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul stands on Safe-T Act – Peoria Journal Star

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Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is seeking reelection.

The Democrat ran unopposed in his party’s primary and will face Republican Thomas DeVore in the Nov. 8 general election. Raoul was first elected to the office in 2018, receiving 54.7% of the vote, and was sworn in the following year.

The Illinois Attorney General’s office has been held by a Democrat since 2003, and just one Republican has held the office since 1983.

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Background

Raoul has been active in Illinois politics for nearly three decades. A native Chicagoan, he unsuccessfully challenged then-4th Ward Chicago Alderman Toni Preckwinkle (now Cook County board president), in both the 1995 and 1999 aldermanic elections.

In 2004, Raoul was appointed to represent the Illinois State Senate’s 13th district, filling the seat vacated by Barack Obama after his election to the U.S. Senate. He served in that office until 2019.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is running for reelection in November.

On the SAFE-T Act

The impact of Illinois’ sweeping police and criminal justice reform bill, passed in January of 2021, has become a prominent campaign issue in the lead up to this year’s elections. The law would eliminate cash bail starting Jan. 1, making Illinois defendants subject to pre-trial detention only in the event that they are deemed a flight risk or danger to the public. The law also includes a requirement that all police officers wear body cameras by 2025, and bans the use of chokeholds by police.

Raoul backed the law, and said that it would “begin to put a system of accountability and professionalism forth, and hopefully begin to rebuild the trust in law enforcement.”

More recently, however, the Attorney General has expressed reservations about the legislation’s impact.

At a Sept. 20 campaign event, Raoul said that the law might need revising, telling supporters that ambiguities around whether a defendant poses a threat will require an “ongoing conversation” on where the threshold should be set.

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On crime and criminal justice

Raoul’s campaign website touts a record of working “in a bipartisan manner with prosecutors and police chiefs across Illinois to fight crime and develop criminal justice policy.”

In August of 2021, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police named Raoul public official of the year for 2020, praising Raoul’s influence on the Criminal Justice Omnibus Bill, which resulted in the inclusion of “favorable elements” in a bill that the association ultimately opposed.

Raoul later launched the Organized Retail Crime Task Force, a collaboration between his office, various local law enforcement offices, major retailers and retail advocacy groups, with the goal of disrupting organized retail theft.

This summer, Raoul joined 20 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in favor of stricter federal “ghost gun” regulations aimed at restricting the spread of homemade weapons without serial numbers.

Gubernatorial executive power

Throughout the pandemic, the authority of the governor to implement public safety measures via executive order became a topic of intense partisan debate. As the state’s top legal officer, Raoul has defended Gov. JB Pritzker against legal challenges to his executive authority, both in and out of court.

A spokesperson for Raoul’s office decried a 2020 lawsuit brought by Sen. Darren Bailey challenging the governor’s COVID-19 executive orders as “a distraction from the urgent need to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Illinois.”

In February, when a Sangamon County judge issued a temporary retraining order blocking the governor’s school mask mandate— in response to a lawsuit headed by DeVore— Raoul lambasted the decision in a press release.

“The court’s misguided decision is wrong on the law, demonstrates a misunderstanding of Illinois emergency injunction proceedings and has no relation to the record that was before the court,” he wrote. “It prioritizes a relatively small group of plaintiffs who refuse to follow widely-accepted science over the rights of other students, faculty and staff to enter schools without the fear of contracting a virus that has claimed the lives of more than 31,000 Illinois residents – or taking that virus home to their loved ones.”

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Campaign finances

Raoul collected $555,585 in campaign contributions in the second quarter and had $1.1 million in cash on hand as of June 30, according to the information from the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Significant backers of Raoul’s campaign, which has drawn heavily on funds from organized labor, include Pritzker’s reelection campaign, the Illinois Federation of Teachers Committee on Political Education, Carpentry Advancement PAC, and the Laborers’ International Union of North America.

Endorsements

Raoul has won the endorsements of a several prominent progressive organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, Equality Illinois, Planned Parenthood, the Gun Violence Prevention PAC and Giffords PAC.

The Attorney General’s support from organized labor includes endorsements from the the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the International Union of Operating Engineers.

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October 25, 2022 at 05:49AM

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