1. STATE CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM:

A critical role of the Illinois Attorney General is to protect fundamental freedoms for our state’s residents.  The Illinois Constitution is more modern than the Federal Consitution and, therefore, more specific and expansive in terms of freedoms afforded to Illinoisans.

Do you believe that the Attorney General can seek added protections by invoking the provisions of the Illinois Constitution rather than the federal constitution? If you would use the Illinois Constitution in this expansive manner, how? If no, why?

HARSY: I believe the Attorney General can seek added protections by invoking provisions of the Illinois Constitution, as well as the federal constitution. I would use the Illinois Constitution to defend the interests of the people of Illinois. Specifically, I would use the Article I, Section 16 of the Illinois Constitution to seek to nullify unconstitutional irrevocable special privileges that some government retirees have received for past government affiliation. 

According to the Taxpayer Education Foundation, for every dollar a state government employee has placed into the retirement system, the taxpayers of Illinois are forced to match this dollar with $4.50. Nowhere in the world would a company in the private sector match what an employee puts into their retirement by 450%. By forcing taxpayers to pay in so much for government retiree pensions, we are in fact giving government retirees special privilege disguised as pensions.
 
The highest paid state government retiree makes $598,000 a year, has only paid $768,000 into their retirement system, has already drawn more money out than they paid in, and is expected to draw out more than $20 million dollars due to average life expectancy and compounded cost of living adjustments. While I do not blame this individual for contracting to the best of their abilities, I would expect my government to look out for the interest of the people of Illinois, rather than giving out special privileges for past government affiliation. When you see pension payouts like this, it is obvious where the money goes in Illinois and I believe the only way to get out of this mess without increasing taxes would be to nullify unconstitutional special privileges occurring statewide and locally. I am sure it will make many government retirees upset, but this practice is not fair to the people of Illinois and must end. 
 
Once these unconstitutional special privileges are nullified, I would encourage legislators and the governor to renegotiate pensions for government retirees that are fair to the taxpayers of Illinois, as well as create a pay scale for statewide and local government employees that is modeled off the federal government employee pay scale.

2. TRUMP ANTI-CIVIL LIBERTIES AGENDA:

Many state Attorneys General have pushed back against the Trump administration’s anti-civil liberties initiatives.  These efforts have included litigation challenging the administration’s policies, support for state legislation and policies designed to mitigate the harm caused by those policies, and assuming civil rights enforcement responsibilities that the administration has abandoned.

Will you respond to the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back criminal justice reform, police reform, prison reform, voting rights, immigrants’ rights, LGBTQ rights, reproductive rights, freedom of the press, and other civil rights and civil liberties? If so, how?

HARSYCriminal Justice reform is much needed in Illinois, as well as the United States. I have taken the position that I will not criminally prosecute anyone for non-violent marijuana offenses, and will actively try and have people released from prison that are only incarcerated for non-violent marijuana offenses. Furthermore, I will actively push to starting treating individuals that commit drug offenses as health issues rather than criminal matters. I do not believe that arresting someone for a drug offense and locking them in a cage for a period of years does anything to address that underlying problems generally associated with substance abuse. I would like to offer treatment for those individuals to hopefully address the under lying issues as well as provide legitimate job skill training for all inmates so once they are released from prison they have better options for employment in an effort to prevent them from falling back into old habits.

Police Reform and Prison Reform is much needed in Illinois, as well as the United States. There are two major ways to improve police practices in Illinois. The first is to stop overworking law enforcement officers and the other is to hold bad acting law enforcement officers accountable for their actions.
 
When an individual is running on inadequate sleep, they are not as mentally sharp as they would be otherwise. They are also crankier compared to a person that is well rested. Law enforcement officers are people like everyone else and they are subject the daily stressors just like everyone else. A simple way to alleviate some of these stressors is not to overwork our law enforcement officers.
 
Due to years of government corruption, there seems there are two sets of laws in Illinois. One set of laws for regular people, and one set of laws for those that have government affiliation. We have to start holding bad acting government officials and employees accountable for their bad acts just like regular people. Any government official or employee that helps cover up the bad acts of a co-worker should be criminally prosecuted as an accomplice to the crime they helped cover up. In the event that a government employee strays away from investigative procedures and techniques to the point it shows favoritism to a bad acting government employee, I would seek to hold the individual accountable as accomplice depending on how poor the investigation was performed. If a criminal conviction could not be obtained by the bad actor but it was objectively apparent they failed to adhere to their duties and responsibilities, I would initiate quo warranto proceedings to have that person removed from their job to open up the position for a good acting government employee.
 
In regards to voting rights, we need to encourage as many people in Illinois, as well as the United States to get out and vote. We need to have broad access to allow people vote, including extended hours for early voting, and adequate voting locations for Election Day. Consolidation of polling place to make it more difficult to vote for individuals is inexcusable. I will fight to ensure these issues do not arise in Illinois, and when they do arise I will ensure they are resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible.
 
With all of that in mind, in an effort to maintain voting integrity, I support voter identification laws. Voter fraud is a problem faced for hundreds of years in America. I do not believe it would be such a burden to require an ID to vote. I would not want someone to be prevented from voting for not being able to afford an ID and I would not want voter ID laws turned into a new type of poll tax. In the event a person cannot afford a voter ID, the state would provide one for them at no cost. Many Illinoisans already have driver’s licenses, state ID’s, FOID cards, and passports that should all be acceptable forms of identification at the polling booth. Only individuals that do not already possess one of these ID’s would need to obtain a voter ID. I believe this would be a minimal cost to taxpayers to ensure the integrity of our elections.
 
Immigrants should have the same rights that non-immigrants have and I will fight to ensure their individual rights are protected just like anyone else. Anytime their rights are violated and this information is provided to the attorney general’s office it will be investigated.
 
Members of the LGBTQ community are citizens just like nonmembers of the LGBTQ community, and as such, their rights should be protected just like anyone else’s. Any accounts of discriminatory practices will be investigated and handled based on the objective findings of the investigation.
 
In matters involving reproductive rights, I support a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body. It would be nice to live in a world where all life is preserved, but the decision should not be left up to the government in its entirety because an individual knows how run their life better than the government. With that in mind, I adamantly oppose any abortions taking place where the mother is healthy and the child could otherwise be born healthy due to it reaching the point of viability. 
 
Freedom of the Press is one of the most vital rights guaranteed to the American people by the United States Constitution. Any attacks on the freedom the press should be met with lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of these attacks.
 
I also strongly support an individual’s right to freely associate with organizations of their choosing. With this concept in mind, I would challenge the constitutionality of the McCarren-Ferguson Act of 1945. This federal law grants state’s the ability to allow for insurance monopolies within their state. Maybe in 1945, when the sharing of information required mailing documents or in person delivery, this law made sense, and it might have been a cost saver. Now, in 2018, it is an undue restriction on an individual’s legal right to freely associate with organizations of their choosing. In the modern day, anytime you meet with an insurance rep, your information is uploaded into a computer and various computer programs run calculations to determine your insurance rates based on various factors. With the internet and the instantaneous exchange of information via modern technology, the government no longer has a legal justification to allow monopolies like this. Once we open up the healthcare market, allowing consumers to purchase insurance policies across state lines, we will see healthcare costs drop from open competition among health insurance carriers.

3. IMMIGRATION:

In the past eighteen months, the federal government has deployed increasingly cruel, unnecessary, and in some cases unlawful enforcement tactics against immigrants and their families.  These have included a ban on travel to the U.S. for people from predominantly Muslim countries, stops and arrests without individualized suspicion of wrongdoing, raids that indiscriminately sweep up everyone present at a workplace or other location; and enforcement actions at courthouses that target people appearing as witnesses or for other important court business.

Will you take steps to protect documented and undocumented immigrants in Illinois from harmful or unlawful immigration enforcement practices? If so, how? If not, why?

HARSYThe federal government has constitutionally granted authority on immigration matters. It is apparent to me, that it may no longer be in the best interest of the people of Illinois and the people of other states to allow the government to be in charge of immigration matters. When the United States Constitution was written, a person had to physically-make landfall on a coastline to entire into America. In modern times, this is no longer the case as most states have their own international airport. 

In order to allow states to manage their own immigration issues, it would require a federal constitutional amendment, which I would support. In the event this would happen it would be up to law makers to determine how to proceed on immigration matters.
 
Under the current scenario involving immigration, if the federal government wants Illinois to enforce federal laws, then the federal government needs to provide adequate funding for that enforcement and the federal government needs to take responsibility for placing improper ICE detainers on America citizens. The 10th Amendment of the United States Constitution prevents the federal government from commandeering state officials and forcing them to do the work of the federal government. The federal government actually uses this argument to avoid civil liability when the federal government tells the state government to detain American citizens, pointing out that they do not have the legal authority to force states to detain people, they just ask them to. This nonsense has to stop, and I will not allow the federal government to bully the state of Illinois into doing their job. 

4. VOTING:

This past June, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Ohio’s draconian process for removing voters from the rolls if they fail to vote for two years and do not return a postcard mailed to their address.

Will you protect Illinois voters from “purges” that may remove eligible voters from the rolls, while retaining voter security? If so, how? If not, why?

HARSYA voter purge after failing to vote for two years is beyond problematic. That being said, Illinois needs to do something in order to eliminate deceased individuals from voter rolls in an effort to maintain voting security and integrity. I believe this problem would take care of itself by requiring voter ID’s and by providing voter ID’s to individuals who could not otherwise afford one at no cost. 


5. RELIGION:

Increasingly, individuals and other entities claim their religious beliefs justify various actions, even when the actions impact others.  This can be seen when some businesses claim a right to discriminate against LGBTQ people and others in the provision of goods and services and when health care providers impose religiously-based restrictions on the services and information offered to patients.  

Will you oppose attempts to use religion as a license for discrimination prohibited by the Illinois Human Rights Act? If so, how?  If no, why not?

HARSYI will oppose the attempts to use religion as a license for discrimination. That being said, I believe a property owner or a business owner engaging in a public service has the right to refuse service to anyone as long as it is not based on discriminatory practices. Any businesses accused of discriminatory practices will be investigated and handled accordingly based on the results of the investigation. It is worth mentioning that a church should not be forced to marry individuals they are not comfortable marrying. Some churches refuse to marry individuals for a variety of reasons, and they should have the freedom to make those decisions. 


6. OPEN GOVERNMENT:

The goal of government transparency and accountability embodied in the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is frequently undermined when government entities delay responses to requests, claim unwarranted exemptions, or fail to respond at all.  

Will you support Illinoisans’ right to full and prompt access to the public records needed to understand the operation of state and local government and hold public officials accountable? If so, how? If not, why?

HARSYI will support Illinoisans’ right to full and prompt access to public records to ensure government transparency and government accountability. When government entities delay responses to FOIA requests, claim unwarranted exemptions, or fail to respond at all, I will seek to initiate quo warranto proceedings against the FOIA officer that is failing to objectively adhere to their duties and have them removed from their position. I believe after enough government employees are removed from their positions, other FOIA officers will follow the letter of the law in making disclosures of information requested through FOIA. If every single FOIA officer has to be removed from their position in order to get the point across, then so be it.


7. CRIMINAL JUSTICE:

74% of Illinois voters believe our criminal justice system is “broken.” In December 2016, a bipartisan Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform recommended specific reforms to safely reduce the prison population by 25%. Yet two years later, Illinois still has one of the nation’s most overcrowded prison systems, and many of the Commission’s most significant recommendations still have not been enacted into law, including:

  1. Reducing the sentence classification for all drug crimes by one class;
  2. Raising the felony threshold dollar amounts for retail theft and other nonviolent property crimes from their current levels to $2,000; and
  3. Allowing inmates who are currently required by statute to serve 85% or 100% of their sentences to earn additional sentence credit to reduce the length of their prison stays.  

Are you committed to working with the legislature to enact criminal justice reform measures? If so, what specific reforms do you consider your highest priorities, and what will you do to ensure that they are enacted? If not, why?

HARSYI am committed to working with legislatures to enact criminal justice reform. My specific reforms that would be the highest priority would be to get non-violent marijuana offenders out of prison as soon as possible and treat other drug issues as mental health matters rather than criminal matters. Someone with a first offense for drug possession would receive medical treatment to address the underlying causes of substance abuse rather than being locked in a cage for a period of years without any real help to address the underlying problems. These people would not be charged with felonies for their first offenses either in an effort to provide legitimate rehabilitation to these individuals and allow them to find gainful employment after their rehabilitation.

The felony threshold for dollar amounts for retail theft and other nonviolent property crimes need increased to at least $2,000 from the current levels. I would actually look to have this threshold increased to $2,500 as has already been done in Wisconsin.
 
In regards to allowing inmates that are required to serve 85% or 100% of their sentences to earn additional sentence credits to reduce the length of their prison stay would have to be made on a case-by-case basis in, and I would not look for broad sweeping reform to allow these individuals out of prison sooner. Usually individuals required to serve 85% or 100% of their sentences have committed severe crimes and there are victims involved. While I would be open to the concept, I would have to be persuaded to support a reduction of their sentences and it would only occur in an extremely limited basis to the point it would not be the major focus of my goals of enacting criminal justice reform in Illinois.

8. TRANSGENDER RIGHTS:

Despite progress in public understanding about gender dysphoria and inclusion of persons who are transgender in popular culture, discrimination against those who are transgender takes many forms and remains pervasive in many parts of society.  Some health care plans continue to retain specific, discriminatory prohibitions on coverage of the health care necessary for the treatment of gender dysphoria.  Employees who are transgender face discrimination as they transition (and after) at work.  Students who are transgender face a myriad of problems, from the inability to execute a name change on school records to the ability to use gender-appropriate pronouns, or fully access and utilize the restroom and locker room consistent with a student’s gender identity.  Persons who are transgender face harsh and discriminatory treatment from police.  

Will you work to affirm and protect transgender people from discrimination by: (1) fighting to uphold federal court decisions holding that discrimination against transgender people violates federal laws prohibiting sex discrimination; and (2) taking steps to ensure that Illinois laws, such as the Human Rights Act, are interpreted broadly to affirm and protect people who are transgender from discrimination in Illinois, including in employment, their use of educational and other public facilities, access to public and private health care, their treatment by law enforcement personnel, and in prisons, juvenile facilities, and other forms of state custody? If so, how? If not, why?

HARSYTransgender individuals, along with all other individuals have the right not to be discriminated against and I will work to affirm and protect transgender people from discrimination. Anytime an individual is not hired, or fired because they are transgender, there will be an investigation in to the hiring or firing practices of that business. Anytime a transgender individual is refused public service because they are transgender, the business engaging in unlawful discrimination will be investigated and the matter will be resolved accordingly based on the findings in the investigation.

Specifically addressing matter involving transgender students, these students should have the ability to execute a name change on their school records assuming their name has been legally changed or is in the process of being changed, they should have the ability to be called whatever name they wish, they should have the ability to be identified by whatever gender pronoun they choose, and they should have reasonable accommodations for restrooms.
 
I do not believe that middle school, or high school aged students should have the option to change clothes in a locker-room of their choosing in a public school. If for example, an individual was born male and once they entered high school they identified as a female, they should not be allowed to change in the women’s locker room. They should not be forced to change in the men’s locker room either, and schools should provide a third option for these students to have a changing location that makes them feel comfortable.
 
Public schools limit constitutional rights of students in order to ensure a safe learning environment to the highest amount of students as possible. It is not appropriate to allow an individual born a man that now identifies as a woman to change in the woman’s locker room so they feel comfortable while simultaneously making a majority of women in the school uncomfortable when other reasonable accommodations can be made. It would not be appropriate to allow an individual born a woman that now identifies as a man to change in the men’s locker room either for the same reasons.
 
In matters involving individuals in state custody, if an incarcerated individual has had a long-standing practice of identifying with a gender that is opposite of their birth gender, then they should be placed in prison that is appropriate with their pre-established gender. That being said, someone that has not identified with a gender different from their birth gender prior to their arrest, should not be able to switch genders while they are incarcerated and hypothetically allow a male to now identify as a woman and be placed in a women’s prison. There is at least one instance where a man was sent to prison for rape, once in prison he identified as a woman, was sent to a women’s prison, and then began sexually assaulting women. I do not support situations where this is likely to occur and I would not wish to see this become a growing trend. I believe the above stated scenarios would limit these instances.

9. POLICE PRACTICES:

The national dialogue about the relationship between police and the communities they serve is very much active here in Illinois, specifically Chicago. Tensions between the Chicago police and many of the communities served by police run high today. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a scathing report about practices and training in CPD, problems that exacerbate and heighten the tensions between police and – especially – communities of color.  It is clear that Chicago’s policing system if broken and in need of systemic reform, with federal court oversight.  The current Attorney General is negotiating a federal consent decree with the City of Chicago to reform the Chicago Police Department.  

Will you pledge to urgently pursue and enforce a comprehensive consent decree with the City of Chicago, and involve community and civil rights groups in the monitoring and enforcement of the consent decree reforming the Chicago Police Department?  If so, how? If not, why?

HARSYI will pursue and enforce the consent decree with the City of Chicago reforming the Chicago police Department. That being said, the Consent Decree is a piece of paper, and is meaningless if we do not begin to hold bad acting government employees accountable for their actions. I believe that police officers in Chicago, as well as the rest of the United States know they have a duty to protect the constitutional rights of the people they interact with while performing their duties as a law enforcement officers. Regardless of a consent decree, law enforcement officers know they have a duty to protect the constitutional rights of people they serve. This notion that law enforcement officers do not know this because there has not been a consent decree in the past is absurd.

If bad acting law enforcement officers were held to the same standard of law as the people they enforce the laws against, the consent decree would be unnecessary. If we held bad acting law enforcement officers that look the other way when a coworker committed a crime accountable as an accomplice to the crime they helped cover up, the consent decree would be unnecessary. The consent decree makes people feel good that the government is taking action to resolve the issues of police brutality, but if we are not going to hold bad acting law enforcement officials for their actions, it is just a feel good piece of paper that does not change anything.
 
Regardless of the language in the consent decree, I will hold bad acting law enforcement officers accountable for their actions throughout the state of Illinois. Furthermore, anyone that helps cover up the crimes of a government coworker will be prosecuted as a criminal accomplice. In the event there is not enough evidence for a criminal prosecution, but it is obvious from the facts that a government official did not objectively adhere to their duties and responsibilities, they will be removed from their position via quo warranto proceedings.
 
Other than attending law school, I have been a lifelong resident of Illinois, and I am tired of only seeing government accountability for state government employees through the federal government. The people of Illinois deserve better, and the attorney general’s office should be the position in Illinois that holds bad acting government officials accountable for their acts. It should not require the federal government’s involvement to fix our problems, and I would like to be the attorney general that holds state employees accountable for their wrongful acts.
 
That being said, as attorney general, I would fully support any federal assistance in holding bad acting government officials and employees accountable for their bad actions. Corruption is rampant in Illinois and it is going to require a group effort to get things back on track.

10. REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS:

Access to reproductive health care in Illinois has become more critical than ever, as threats increase at the federal level and states throughout the Midwest pass increasingly harmful restrictions.  

Will you commit to using the power of your office to protect and expand access to the full range of reproductive health care and information, including contraception and abortion, for all people in Illinois? If so, how? If not, why?

HARSYAll people in Illinois should have access to the full range of reproductive health care and information, including contraception and abortion. Individuals know how to run their lives better than the government, and as such, they should be able to make their own decisions about their bodies. Any laws preventing someone access to reproductive health care and information will have their legality challenged by my office and in all likelihood be struck down by a court.


11. WOMEN'S RIGHTS:

Despite the progress already made in the struggle for gender equality, women still face violence, discrimination, and institutional barriers to equal participation in society. Gender bias continues to create significant barriers.  

Will you commit to using the full extent of your authority to enforce state and federal civil rights laws in order to address policies and practices that have a discriminatory impact on women and/or are based on sex stereotyping?  If so, how? If not, why?  

HARSYI will commit to enforce state and federal civil rights laws in order to address policies and practices that have a discriminatory impact on women; I will also challenge the constitutionality of any laws that have a discriminatory impact on women as well. Any complaints based on discriminatory practice for any reason would be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted accordingly. I do not believe in political witch-hunts, but when objective facts can be provided showing discrimination, they will be investigated and dealt with accordingly based on the results of the investigation.


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