Democrat Raph Graybill promises to be an attorney general who is a tough fighter for Montanans on health care prices, in the fight against methamphetamine, and for clean, open government.
Graybill will oppose State Rep. Kim Dudik of Missoula in the June Democratic primary.
The winner will oppose the victor in the GOP contest between former House Speaker Austin Knudsen and Assistant Attorney General Jon Bennion.
Graybill met with The Havre Herald staff Monday afternoon en route to an appearance in Chinook.
Graybill, 30, delighted in responding to Knudsen’s comments last week that he lacks courtroom experience.
As Steve Bullock’s chief legal counsel, Graybill has represented the state on several major issues, he said. For example, he touts his work in successfully defending Bullock’s temporary statewide ban on the sale of e-cigarettes.
Opponents of the ban chose Ravalli County for the lawsuit because the area comprises a libertarian tilt, he said, adding that the opponents lost. Among the opposition, a high school principal revealed a bag full of cigarettes he had confiscated.
Graybill noted that 30 percent of the state’s middle school students and 60 percent of high school students have tried the vape products. Many other states have overturned the bans, Graybill pointed out.
Graybill touts his other successes, including the following issues:
- He won a key land access case in a suit against the present attorney general, Tim Fox.
- When Secretary of State Corey Stapleton tried to invalidate a Bullock veto from the 2019 legislative session, Graybill represented Bullock and won.
- When the Trump administration‘s Internal Revenue Service loosened disclosure requirements for dark money groups, Graybill sued and won the right for the state to be heard at a public hearing.
- Graybill was present in January when the U.S. Supreme Court heard the Espinoza vs. Montana Department of Revenue education funding case.
The latter case involved the Montana Constitution that bans direct and indirect assistance to private and religious schools. Sen. Steve Daines and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who support using public tax dollars for private schools, sat nearby, said Graybill.
Prescription Drug Costs
If elected, Graybill said he would emphasize fighting price increases for prescription drugs and “the anti-competitive behavior of the big companies.”
“Attorneys general have a lot to say about health care costs,” he said, adding that the Montana Attorney General should lead the fight against overcharging customers.
He praised Fox for filing suit against Purdue Pharma for its role in the opioid crisis, saying it was “the best thing Tim Fox has done as attorney general.” Graybill, however, said he would have acted sooner.
He noted that on Monday, Fox sued two large distributors, McKesson Corp. and Cardinal Health Inc., for allegedly breaking the law by failing to monitor the number of opioid pills distributed in Montana.
Overall, Graybill said his opposition to Big Pharma would be more vigorous.
Like Knudsen, Graybill said if elected, he will fight the meth epidemic. However, he warned that “just jailing people isn’t going to solve anything.”
When Montana experienced a similar meth crisis in the 1990s, that state made progress when it focused on rehabilitation of addicts. Treatment provides lasting results, said Graybill, adding he will fight big-time distributors.
Missing Indigenous Women
Graybill will prioritize quickly responding to reports of missing indigenous Native women.
He said Division of Criminal Investigation would be summoned by any officer — tribal, federal, county or state — who received reports of missing indigenous women. Such communication would help bridge the gap between law enforcement agencies in providing immediate response to reports.
While getting DCI involved more quickly will help, “systematic racism” is the cause of the problem, he said.
Fighting Dark Money
A longtime foe of corporate and Political Action Committee money in politics, Graybill will continue the fight as AG. He will start with himself, vowing to take no PAC money.
For more than a century, since the days of the Copper Barons, Montana has fought large corporate money flowing into the state.
Citing reports that the conservative/libertarian Koch Brothers organization plans to spend millions of dollars on the 2020 election, Graybill warned that much of that money is headed for Montana.
Write to John Kelleher at firstname.lastname@example.org
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