Illinois AG candidates debate over SAFE-T Act changes, COVID-19 executive orders

Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 6:34 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - The two mainstream candidates for Illinois Attorney General appeared in their first and only televised forum Tuesday night, in Chicago. Democratic incumbent Kwame Raoul and Republican challenger Tom DeVore have attacked each other’s campaigns for several months on social media as well as during press conferences.

Raoul and DeVore spent a significant amount of the WTTW Chicago Tonight forum debating possible changes to the SAFE-T Act before cash bail is abolished on Jan. 1. DeVore has consistently said that the SAFE-T Act will lead to more criminals on the streets in Chicago and other metro areas in Illinois. However, Raoul continues to defend the work of his colleagues from the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus who spent months crafting the bill language with legal experts, criminal justice advocates, and law enforcement.

Gov. JB Pritzker and Raoul have been sued by 60 state attorneys who want to overturn the pretrial fairness portion of the SAFE-T Act. Yet, Raoul said stakeholders are already coming back to the table to negotiate with lawmakers.

“We have state attorneys at the table. We have sheriffs at the table speaking to the legislature right now,” Raoul said. “And that’s the way it should happen.”

“The conversations should’ve taken place back in January of 2021,” DeVore argued. “So the way the bill was, the gut and replace, of how it was passed, created a lot of problems.”

Many in the legal and political world are waiting to see the outcome of the ongoing legal battle against the SAFE-T Act. Raoul said that he thinks the law is constitutional. Still, DeVore said he would defend the people of Illinois against changes under the massive criminal justice reform law.

The Attorney General’s office spent many months representing the Pritzker administration in court against DeVore’s attempts to diminish executive powers. The downstate attorney likely wouldn’t be running for statewide office today if he didn’t become a public figure challenging COVID-19 executive orders with Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) early into the pandemic.

Raoul recently said that there was a fair question about whether or not Pritzker had the authority to issue numerous executive orders over the past two years. DeVore said the Attorney General should always take the side of the people on a fair question about executive orders instead of siding with the governor.

However, Raoul stressed that the Pritzker administration was keeping people alive by having COVID-19 safety measures in place while Bailey and DeVore were fighting with a vocal minority of people defying mandates hoping to “reopen” Illinois.

“The hospitalization rate per capita, the death rate per capita beats those of surrounding states that took a different approach,” Raoul said.

“I have to say this. With all due respect to the Attorney General, his role as the chief legal officer is not about measuring the medical data,” DeVore said.

Raoul noted that courts have spoken countless times in favor of the Pritzker administration due to DeVore’s excessive filing of cases. DeVore said he would be more focused on keeping the people of Illinois “safe from executive abuse.”

All of the court cases against COVID-19 mitigations have since been dismissed.

Libertarian Daniel Robin is also running for Attorney General. The General Election is on Nov. 8.

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