Smart Decision 2012: Attorney General Candidate Republican Ed Martin
COLUMBIA - Ed Martin is running to unseat incumbent Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster. Martin served at Gov. Matt Blunt's chief of staff and has been a lawyer for more than 15 years.
Martin graduated from the St. Louis University School of Law and lives in St. Louis with his wife and four children. Martin ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2010 against incumbent Russ Carnahan in Missouri's 3rd House District.
KOMU 8 News sat down with Martin as a part of the Smart Decision 2012 series. After several attempts, incumbent Democrat Chris Koster's campaign would not take part in this series.
Smart Decision 2012 Candidate Profile: Missouri Attorney General Candidate Ed Martin from KOMU News on Vimeo.Interview Transcript:
Reporter: "What makes you the best candidate to be Missouri's Attorney General?"
Martin: "Well, I'd say this. I'm the most qualified candidate because I'm an attorney that has been practicing law here in Missouri for over 15 years. My experience has been extensive in private practice with Bryant Cave one of the biggest law firms in Missouri and in my own law practice and in public service I've worked on poverty issues and other things in the St. Louis area. I've also been a clerk for a federal judge, served as chief of staff to the governor, and head of the election board. So, I've had a range of legal experience. I think I'm the best person for the job right now because I've discussed and made clear my commitment to following the constitution and the rule of law. I think we have too many politicians and elected officials that are just in it for the next election and not standing up for the rule of law. These are key moments in America's life and Missouri's future and we need an attorney general that's going to say hey that's what I'm about and this is what the constitution means."
Reporter: "You've been involved in politics - as the chief of staff to the governor. But have you ever been elected to a public office?"
Martin: "No. I was trying to tell someone earlier. I don't remember running for office at all even when I was in college or in high school. In 2010, my wife and I got really concerned on the direction of things and I ran for Congress. I ran against Russ Carnahan and as a republican candidate it was a real serious challenge. IT was a pretty heavy democrat district. And we succeeded in a lot of ways. We built a huge support network. Raised a lot of money and come up just a few votes short of winning that race. I decided it was a good time in my family's life to get involved. And right after I lost that race, a friend of mine, Sam Graves said you should run for attorney general, you have the background the training and the skills for it."
Reporter: "Then, what made you decide to run for attorney general?"
Martin: "When you become an attorney you sign on to a system that makes America great. Its more than just a job, it's a calling. That's why they talk about the law as more than a profession. It really has a special meeting. As attorney general, you're combining a couple skills, you've got to be a good enough attorney to do the legal work for the state, you've got to be a good enough public candidate to win the election and talk to voters. And I think you have to be a serious man who will take on this serious issues. In my campaign, I've been out in the community more than any other candidate. The attorney general right now, its just so important to stand up to the feds and also protect the constitution and the rule of law."
Reporter: "So what's the biggest issue facing Missouri right now?"
Martin: "Well our campaign we've rolled out a number of issues, I'll just tick through them real quick. The number one issue that most of us are feeling is the size and scope of the government and how it's intruding on our lives. I think that's a fundamental question. The other questions that face the attorney general is to address crime. I've rolled out an initiative on veterans. We need a more transparent and accountable office. There's a lot of discomfort in our community. The Attorney General enforces the sunshine law and as attorney general I would. More transparency and accountability would be good. With government getting so big there's more corruption than ever. And as attorney general I will fight corruption that has led us to this spot."
Reporter: "As President Obama's health care plan goes into effect what is the role the Attorney General plays in that and what are your plans?"
Martin: "I've said if I'm elected to be attorney general, in the first minute in office - and I mean minute -I'll have a new legal strategy to take on Obamacare. People say wait a second, Obamacare was just upheld. And the answer to that is you're right. As to the individual mandate the Supreme Court ruled. And I as a conservative, as an attorney, attorney general. I have to honor that. I wish it was different, I didn't think it should be upheld but it was. So that question is answered, but now we have several other questions. The law was 3,000 pages long and a number of pieces have not yet been implemented. So we're going to see those coming down the pipe, so we'll have to deal with that. For example the act says states have to implement federal healthcare exchanges and if they don't the federal government will do it for them. If the federal government goes to implement them, that's an important moment and the attorney general should be involved in that. On August 1 of 2014, the mandate that religious institutions participate in health insurance plans that have certain requirements the so-called religious freedom question. As an attorney you cant take up litigation until there is an actual conflict. So August of next year, we'll have religious institutions in Missouri that will have to face that. As Attorney General, it's not my job to take a policy position on Obamacare, it is my job to express what the constitution and the rule of law is and if there is a legal challenge. Those are the kinds of questions we have to take up. I think the balance of power is a big change in Obamacare.
Reporter: "Do you think Missouri has a legal objection?"
Martin: "Well I think we should have been in the lawsuit before - the Minkus brief. I'm worried about the mandate because the primary question of religious freedom. I haven't seen the briefs that have been filed to make that legal objection. The implementation of some of the review boards that will make decisions on Medicare others, you're going to have citizens saying hey don't I get a say in this. And we'll have to navigate that so that people know what their rights are."
Reporter: "What's your opinion on the death penalty?"
Martin: "I support the death penalty I think it's constitutional. I don't really understand why it hasn't been implemented faster. If the legislature passes and the governor signs off on capitol punishment and it hasn't been deemed under our federal law as cruel and unusual, but it seems to me we're tied up in a system that's not appropriate. If the Supreme Court doesn't want the death penalty they should run for the legislature. The current AG I've seen him make some objections on why it's taken so long. But the public looks up at us and says what's wrong with the system of justice and why is this not happening. So as AG, the constitution allows it and the people say we want it, but it hasn't been implemented. It's something that I don't understand how or why the current AG isn't making a bigger deal out of it and it doesn't make any sense."
Reporter: "What would be different after you serve a term as AG?"
Martin: "Well, I think a number of things. I really find it unacceptable this class of people that run for office that don't really tell you what they believe. If people want to be a private lawyer then don't run for office. After four years of Ed Martin as AG, you'll find a real commitment to accessibility. If you talk to the lawmakers. They call over to the Attorney General's office and they say we're contemplating this bill, could you give us a read on it? The AG refuses because he doesn't want to get involved. That seems to me like the wrong kind of policy to have right now. I hope people will say that the AG is on the same side as the rights of the people."
Reporter: "What do you think your biggest responsibility is to the people of Missouri as Attorney General?"
Martin: "Well Sen. Jack Danforth has been helping me a lot in this campaign. So he's been one of the more thoughtful people when I ask what this job is like, what does it mean. He said to me, you have to be the leader of the states law firm. You have to protect and lead with integrity. He ran to end a culture of corruption in the 60s and he's supporting me because he says he sees the same thing in my campaign. HE said you have to lead in a way that gives the public confidence. Not only about you as a man, but in the law. That's why the AG should be more prominent. It's not about who is closer to the governor or the president. It's about the rule of law."
Reporter: "So talk a little about the ethics complaint you filed against the current attorney general."
Martin: "This is one of the things that is so important for campaigns. We took off contribution limits in the state of Missouri, so you can give anyone you want as much money as you want. But the two values that we have to have in order to make this work is transparency, who gave you the money, and timeliness, you have to report it in a timely manner. In this case, what happened was on a Saturday night Koster's campaign filed $34,000 of in-kind contributions from a housewife in the St. Louis area. Well in-kind contributions are usually when people buy you a ream of paper for your campaign office or something like that. You can't take that as a gift, you have to file it. All we're saying is if you're the legal leader of the state, you ought to explain exactly where tens of thousands of dollars are coming from. So we'll see, it could be innocuous. It's a very strange number, most people don't see this."
Reporter: "Anything else you'd like to add?"
Martin: "No, I think we've covered most of it. The one great thing about this time of year, with just a few weeks left, people start to get engaged, whether it's online on twitter or on facebook. Our campaign policy is to have real accessibility for folks to ask us questions. I hope people get engaged, this is a very important election. I hope people get involved even down to races like attorney general. And ultimately I'm doing all this because I want to earn their votes."