Ken Cuccinelli, former Attorney General of Virginia, has a national reputation for outrageous extremism which he paints himself with as an “morality” suit of clothing. Here in Michigan, our current AG, Bill Schuette, is equally extreme but seems not garner quite so much attention. But the similarities are there.
- Cuccinelli fought to overturn Obamacare in the courts and lost – So did Bill Schuette.
- Cuccinelli signed on to an amicus brief opposing the federal government’s lawsuit challenging Arizona’s racist immigration law – So did Bill Schuette.
- Cuccinelli is a raging homophobe who used his office to fight marriage equality and adoption rights for LGBT couples every step of the way – So did Bill Schuette.
- Cuccinelli sided with Big Business to fight regulations to protect our environment – So did Bill Schuette.
The similarities are actually a bit creepy.
Let’s take a closer look at some Schuette’s more extreme behavior and actions.
DRUG MAKER IMMUNITY LAW
Back in 1995, Bill Schuette co-sponsored a bill that later became law that made Michigan the only state in the country that prevents lawsuits against drug companies whose drugs were found to harm or kill people who used them if they had been approved by the FDA. As Chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, he made sure the bill made it to the full Senate where it was passed. This bill is little more than a wet kiss to the pharmaceutical industry but has had little impact with major pharmaceutical companies pulling up stakes and moving elsewhere anyway.
Not only that, Schuette’s law resulted in Michigan losing out on $20 million settlement when the drug Vioxx was pulled from the market. Schuette was still defending the law during his last reelection campaign. Then he had the hypocritical gall to pretend to show leadership when a drug compounder’s error resulted in meningitis deaths in Michigan, calling himself a “voice” for the victims, angering many of them.
Schuette led a coalition of nine state AGs in supporting Arizona’s odious and racist “show me your papers” law and then bragged about it in a press release on the state of Michigan website.
When the Environmental Protection Agency took steps to clean up pollution flowing into the Chesapeake Bay, Bill Schuette took it upon himself as AG of Michigan to file an amicus brief opposing the EPA’s clean-up plan.
Schuette also led a coalition of state AGs trying to overturn EPA rules about mercury emissions from power plants. A federal appeals court smacked down Schuette and his corporatist AG pals just yesterday:
A federal appeals court upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s first-ever limits on air toxins, including emissions of mercury, arsenic and acid gases, preserving a far-reaching rule that the White House had touted as central to President Barack Obama’s environmental agenda.
In a 2-1 decision yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that the rule “ was substantively and procedurally valid,” turning aside challenges brought by Republican-led states that had argued it was onerous and environmental groups that had contended it did not go far enough.
The EPA called the decision “a victory for public health and the environment.”
Another example of Bill Schuette wasting Michigan taxpayer money.
MARRIAGE EQUALITY & ADOPTION RIGHTS FOR LGBT COUPLES
Regular readers of this blog know that Schuette has the most regressive views on rights for LGBT people of nearly anyone in our state government. Even as I type this, he is using Michigan tax dollars to overturn a federal judge’s ruling that struck down Michigan’s ban on same sex marriage, a decision stemming from a lawsuit that would give same-sex couples equal parenting rights. One of his outrageous arguments is that marriage is for “regulating sexual relationships between men and women”. I’m not kidding.
Finally, Schuette attempted to strike down a provision in the contract state workers have with the state of Michigan that allows for domestic partners benefits. He was sent packing by the Michigan Court of Appeals, another waste of taxpayer funds.
A similar case is being heard in U.S. District Court. Schuette is fighting an injunction put in place last summer of a law that bars partners of employees in public schools and local governments from receiving domestic partner benefits. The judge in that case said that Schuette’s argument had the “force of a five-week-old, unrefrigerated dead fish.”
“I can’t think of a more mean-spirited piece of legislation,” said Michael Steinberg, legal director at the Michigan branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. “Yet the attorney general continues to fight for the state’s ability to discriminate. It’s very troubling.”
The law was passed in 2011 by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, also a Republican. It says schools and local governments can’t offer health insurance or any benefits to the unmarried partners of employees – gay or heterosexual. Universities are exempt, as well as most state workers whose benefits are set by the Michigan Civil Service Commission. Private businesses also are not affected.
A handful of school districts offered the benefits, along with Ingham and Washtenaw counties and the cities of Ann Arbor, East Lansing and Kalamazoo, according to the ACLU.
That case is being heard in court this week.
THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT or “OBAMACARE”
Bill Schuette hates the Affordable Care Act so much that he joined a federal lawsuit that would block the tax credits qualifying citizens would receive to purchase health insurance. In our state, this would cost our nearly a half million Michigan residents as much as $5,000 a year in additional taxes. From the very beginning, Schuette has vowed to “repeal Obamacare” and said so on the state of Michigan website.
Back 2011, 37 state Attorneys General signed a letter supporting Richard Cordray to head up the newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As their state’s top law enforcement officials, they were in full support of both Cordray and the new bureau itself. Not among those signing the letter was our own AG, Bill Schuette.
ANTI-LABOR, PRO-”RIGHT TO WORK”
Bill Schuette was highly supportive of the lame duck ramming through of legislation that turned Michigan, the birthplace of organized labor and collective bargaining for workers, into a “Right to Work” state, calling himself “Michigan’s Right to Work Attorney General” on his Facebook page. When a federal judge upheld the new law, Schuette called it “a great victory for workers”, a positively Orwellian statement.
When unionized state workers filed suit arguing that they are not covered by the legislation because their employment is covered in the state constitution by the Civil Service Commission, Schuette filed a brief with the state Supreme Court in opposition, saying that “there is no need for this court’s review”.
ZOMBIE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT LAW AND DETROIT
When voters overturned Public Act 4 — Michigan’s anti-democratic Emergency Manager Law — in 2012, Bill Schuette stepped in to say that, rather than Michigan no longer having an Emergency Manager Law, he was resurrecting the previous version, Public Act 72, effectively raising it from the dead like a zombie in contradiction of MCL 8.4 which prevents such an occurrence.
I came up with this handy flow chart to help my readers and AG Schuette to understand the situation:
However, in an election season effort to garner goodwill with Detroiters, Schuette magnanimously intervened on behalf of Detroit city pensioners to represent them in protecting their pensions from being reduced by the agreement worked out by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, a political move so transparent it had to frighten the pensioners themselves.
CONTRACEPTION COVERAGE UNDER THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT – THE “HOBBY LOBBY CASE”
Earlier this year, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. went before the U.S. Supreme Court to avoid having to offer health insurance coverage for specific types of contraceptives to their employees. Bill Schuette was there to file yet another amicus brief on the side of the plaintiffs, fighting to deny female employees of these for-profit corporations access to these contraceptives.
It’s a long list of extreme positions held by Bill Schuette, most of which we fund daily with our tax dollars.
Fortunately Michigan has an exciting Democratic candidate for Attorney General: Mark Totten. Totten threw his hat into the ring in the early part of 2013 and has been campaigning tirelessly since then. He has been pushing back against Bill Schuette’s out-of-touch positions and actions, holding him accountable for wasting taxpayer money and for his support of ultra-conservative issues and corporate interests.
Democrat Mark Totten, candidate for state Attorney General, photo by Anne C. Savage, for Eclectablog
Despite Schuette’s good name recognition — he was a state House Representative, a state Senator, a state Appeals Court judge, and the director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture before becoming AG in 2011 — Totten is in a statistical dead heat with Schuette according to the latest poll by PPP. He has a wide array of endorsements in a race that the National Review is calling one of the top AG races in the country. Just today, Totten was endorsed by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy:
Mark understands the challenges I face fighting crime in Wayne County. He’s protected Michigan families from violent criminals, child predators, and predatory lenders. And he’ll always protect the most vulnerable among us – including foster and adopted kids. Totten will keep us safe and won’t let politics get in the way
Ken Cuccinelli left office in Virginia after a failed run for Governor, being beaten by Democrat Terry McAuliffe in 2013. Here in Michigan, we have an opportunity to shed ourselves of our own version of the extremist Cuccinelli by defeating Bill Schuette in November of this year. It may not be the highest profile race on the ticket this year but, in terms of its impact on the everyday lives of every Michigan resident, it may be one of the most important.