Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Response from Jake Zimmerman, Attorney General Candidate

1. What do you view as the key role, and/or attributes needed for this position? What experience/attributes do you have that qualify you for this position? 

I am a former Assistant Attorney General, a former State Representative and I am the current Saint Louis County Assessor. I am running for Attorney General to ensure all Missourians are treated fairly under the law. As a state legislator, I fought for tough ethics reforms and, as county assessor; I cracked down on corporate tax abusers trying to rob taxpayers of millions of dollars. As Attorney General, I will use this experience to advocate for all Missourians, including crime victims, consumers, and taxpayers.

2. Why do you think you are the best person for this position? What differentiates you from your opponent(s)?

This job is about making sure all Missourians are treated fairly under the law. I’ve dedicated my career to fairness and justice, whether it’s fighting on behalf of Missourians who had been victimized by illegal and unfair business practices, pushing ethics reform in the state legislature or protecting St. Louis County residents from corporations not paying their share of taxes. I believe there is a right way and a wrong way to enforce the law and I believe I’m the best person to take on this fight.

I have been an Assistant Attorney General under Jay Nixon and have fought on behalf of Missourians who had been victimized by illegal and unfair business practices. I prosecuted scammers who stole money from unsuspecting customers, shut down fake “training schools” that existed only to con students out of their hard-earned tuition, and even took on large cell phone companies that misled customers by disguising fees as taxes. I also served in the State Legislature, where I championed consumer protections and ethics reforms designed to prevent lobbyists from controlling the system with unlimited gifts and campaign contributions.

And today, as St. Louis County Assessor, I manage a large and diverse county office. I oversee a diverse staff of 100 full-time employees with a $12 million budget.

3. What do you feel are the most pressing issues currently facing this office and what plans do you have to address these issues? (please be specific)

My top three priorities are cleaning up corruption in Jefferson City, safeguarding our senior citizens from fraud and protecting families from domestic violence and child predators.

We need to clean up the culture of corruption in Jefferson City. That means banning freebies from lobbyists, ending unlimited campaign contributions, and closing the revolving door between lobbying and public service.

Unfortunately, there are always people who will work hard to find ways to take advantage of vulnerable people, especially the elderly. The Attorney General’s office must stay one step ahead of these scammers and fraudsters to protect consumers. We need to put our resources not only towards lawyers, but investigators as well.

All Missourians should feel safe and secure in their homes, regardless of whether the threat comes from strangers or family members. My office will work with local authorities in all cases to ensure the safety of victims of domestic violence, and whenever possible to prevent it by working to ensure help is available from law enforcement, public and private social service agencies, churches, shelters and the legal and medical communities for individuals and families seeking assistance.

4. Describe how you work with, or will work with, others to address your priorities.

As the county assessor, there is neither a Republican nor a Democratic way to assess property. And as the Attorney General there is not a Republican or Democratic way to enforce the law. There is a right way and a wrong way, a fair way and an unfair way.

As a young legislator, I was disgusted by the culture of corruption that I saw in Jefferson City. That’s why I worked across party lines, with the objection of many Republicans and even some Democrats, for ethics reforms.

5. Who are your 3 largest campaign contributors? Do you have a policy on accepting lobbyist gifts? Are there donors from whom you will not accept campaign contributions?

It’s a tie! My four largest campaign contributors are my wife Megan and me, followed by my parents, Stuart & Susie Zimmerman.

Throughout my time in public service, I have worked to clean up the culture of corruption in Jefferson City. As Attorney General, I will refuse gifts, meals, and trips from lobbyists, not even a cup of coffee.

I’m honored to accept support from those who share my belief that we need to clean up corruption in Jefferson City, safeguard our senior citizens from fraud and protect our families from domestic violence and child predators. If anyone thinks I can be bought, they’ve got the wrong guy.

6. Would you support the appointment of a special prosecutor at the state level for all officer involved shootings?

Any shooting is a tragedy. No matter whether the trigger was pulled by a cop, an angry loved one, or a stranger down the street. At the end of the day someone is injured or dead. That is why we have law-enforcement professionals, county prosecutors and an Attorney General. We all need to work together to make sure investigations are done fairly and justice is served.

7. As the state’s top law enforcement professional, how will you work to bridge the gap between police/prosecutors and low-income communities of color?

We need to get to a place where all citizens have faith in the court system and believe it is there to bring fairness and justice, not to promote the bottom line. It is critically important that we fight abuses in the court system. We need to make sure we do this right. We must get elected officials, members of the clergy, activists, police, and others in the same room working together. The purpose of our courts is not to create a debtors prison or to fund a budget. It is to defend justice.

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