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Editorial: The Times-Picayune endorses for attorney general

For Attorney General: John Stefanski

The attorney general is our state’s top legal officer. While the AG’s office lacks original jurisdiction in criminal matters, it can investigate crimes and file civil lawsuits without prior approval from the governor.

That independence matters, as the late AG Richard Ieyoub proved when he sued Big Tobacco against the wishes of then-Gov. Mike Foster. It can also be politicized, as current AG Jeff Landry — now a gubernatorial candidate — has done with his frequent suits against some of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ and President Joe Biden’s policies.

More than ever, Louisiana needs an even-keeled attorney general who will be politically independent but not prone to using the office to wage cultural and ideological battles. One candidate stands out: state Rep. John Stefanski of Crowley.

As an attorney, Stefanski served as a juvenile public defender and a small-town lawyer handling a broad range of cases. As a Republican lawmaker, he built a zero-tolerance record on violent crime and drug dealing — he authored Louisiana’s tough anti-fentanyl law — but also supported sensible, bipartisan criminal justice reforms. His ability to work with others earned him the respect of his legislative colleagues and endorsements from sheriffs and DAs.

In recent weeks, a committee supporting another candidate has run a misleading TV ad accusing Stefanski of putting criminals ahead of victims because of his work as a public defender. The truth is that our nation’s justice system is rooted in the constitutional guarantee that all persons accused of crimes are entitled to competent legal representation.

Moreover, Stefanski says his experience gives him insight that would help him tackle one of the state’s toughest challenges: violent crime. While he acknowledges that this is a relatively small part of the attorney general’s portfolio, Stefanski vows to invest in the AG's criminal division and work closely with district attorney offices that need additional resources.

That sort of cooperative approach to big problems is just what Louisiana needs to move forward. We think John Stefanski is the best candidate to help make that happen.


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