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Politics

Maryland Attorney General-elect Anthony Brown’s goals and priorities in his own words

When Anthony Brown leaves Congress to be sworn in Tuesday as Maryland’s next attorney general, he will make history.

Brown, also a former Maryland lieutenant governor, will be the first Black attorney general in state history, joining a historic group of firsts across state government as Democrats look to accomplish a vast political agenda with control of all three levels of government.

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Drawing on his Annapolis experience will be key, Brown said in an interview with The Baltimore Sun, to ensure he gets legislative support to accomplish his goals.

He replaces Democrat Brian Frosh, who served two, four-year terms as attorney general, and before that spent the better part of three decades representing his native Montgomery County in the General Assembly.

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In a phone call with The Sun, Brown laid out his plans for the early days of his term. His comments have been lightly edited for clarity and concision.

Democratic Attorney General-elect Anthony Brown of Maryland.

Brown’s biggest priority

“Broadly, the priority for me is to make sure that the office of the attorney general has the resources, the leadership, the training dollars, the support personnel to do their job and to do it well. Right? We are the largest public interest law firm in Maryland. We represent the state of Maryland. Its executive departments, the courts, the General Assembly, and we also work for the people. The people and the people’s government deserve the finest representation, counseling, and advising from their attorney. I think job No. 1, as a leader of a large organization like this, is making sure that we’ve got the resources to do the work of the people.”

“There are a lot of unmet needs throughout the state of Maryland. And so it’s going to be competitive in Annapolis and the office of the attorney general will be in Annapolis competing.”

Asking the legislature for more authority

“I’m going to seek [legislative] authorization to enforce the federal and state civil rights laws. To protect Marylanders regardless … whether it’s race, ethnicity, gender identification, or orientation, and faith.”

”I believe that the attorney general needs the authority to bring [civil rights] cases. We can bring class-action cases, we can bring multijurisdiction cases, bigger impact cases. I think it’s an important authority that we need to ensure that all Marylanders are treated equally under the law.”

“The second authority that I’ll be seeking is … the authority to conduct pattern or practice investigations of police misconduct. So when there are signs of repeated misconduct, the office of the attorney general could launch an investigation. The purpose of these investigations is not to punish. The purpose is to look at the underlying causes of misconduct. It could be training, it could be recruitment, it could be leadership, and to identify best practices and hold the department accountable for implementing best practices. Today, most of that work is done by the Department of Justice.”

”I think it’s actually better for local law enforcement to have the state conducting these investigations, working with local law enforcement than have Washington, D.C., come into states around the country and do this work.”

U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown, left, and Sen. Chris Van Hollen introduced legislation to secure the U.S. service academy nominations from congressional districts that lack representation.

Lobbying for a bigger budget, more prosecutors

“I need greater salaries. We’ve got outstanding professionals in the office, lawyers and nonlawyers. It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to recruit and retain these lawyers and other professionals because we don’t provide competitive salaries. When I say competitive salaries, I’m not talking about competing with the private sector — that’s almost a no-win proposition. I’m talking about public sectors and comparing our salaries with what the federal government pays … We’re competing with the salaries that the federal government can offer, and we’re competing with the salaries that many of our large counties and more affluent counties can provide. We’re noncompetitive.”

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“The fourth priority, and again, this is in the area of appropriations, is to double the size of the organized crime unit. We have 12 prosecutors who investigate and prosecute organized crime at the office of the attorney general. It’s narcotics trafficking, gun trafficking, it’s labor trafficking, it’s some organized retail crime. On this campaign for the last year, in every forum that I was in without exception, the one question that was always asked is: ‘What are you going to do as attorney general to improve public safety, to fight crime?’”

Environmental justice

“This is not a secret that enforcement investigations, enforcement of environmental violations, has been down over the last eight years.”

“There has been a frustration among attorneys in the office of the attorney general who are at these various departments, environment and agricultural and natural resources, in the fact that we haven’t brought the enforcement action that we believe should be brought.”

“We’re going to work with the governor and his team, and we’re going to be prepared to enforce the federal and state clean air, clean water laws to protect Maryland’s environment.”

”A big part of that as well is focusing on environmental justice, ensuring that overburdened and underrepresented communities are not left behind in our efforts.”

Then-Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown testified before the House Health and Government Committee about Maryland's health exchange.

Commuting from Prince George’s County to the attorney general’s office in Baltimore

“When I was lieutenant governor, believe me, I spent a lot of time in Baltimore, so I know what that commute is. I also know that over the last eight years, traffic just continues to get worse, not just around the Beltway, because I can avoid the Beltway to get to Baltimore.”

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“You know, fortunately, I’ve got support [Brown will have a driver as part of his security detail]. I’ll work in the car and you know, read emails and make phone calls and review briefs and things like that. I anticipate, certainly in the first three months, that I’m going to spend a considerable amount of time in Annapolis. And that’s a slightly shorter commute.”


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