“The Constitution, state law and case law interpreting the powers and duties of the Attorney General affirm that the AG is more than just a passive observer of state agency action and grant this office authority to determine whether or not to appeal cases of interest to the state,” McKenna said.
Huh. Really? “The Constitution, state law and case law” all support McKenna’s claim to broad discretionary powers. I look forward to McKenna’s brief, and reading how he backs up this assertion.
Because the Constitution affirms absolutely nothing except that “The attorney general shall be the legal adviser of the state officers, and shall perform such other duties as may be prescribed by law.” There is no other mention in the Constitution about the AG’s powers and duties.
As for state law, we’ve already gone over that exhaustively, and I don’t see anything in there explicitly giving the AG’s office the authority to determine whether or not to appeal cases against the wishes of his client. I see RCW 43.12.075 defining a traditional attorney-client relationship between the AG and the Commissioner of Public Lands, mandating that it shall be the AG’s duty to defend the Commissioner when requested so to do, and explicitly stating that it is the Commissioner who represents the state in any proceedings relating to public land. But I see nothing in state law granting McKenna the broad powers he claims.
As for case law, well, I’ve already admitted that there is some case law on both sides of this argument, although absolutely nothing directly to this point in Washington state, as none of McKenna’s predecessors has ever stubbornly pushed such a dispute this far. I believe the case law I’ve previously discussed is pretty damn persuasive that the AG does not have the authority McKenna claims, but this will ultimately be decided in court.
So while the jury remains out on whether case law supports his claim, McKenna is clearly blowing smoke out his ass when he tells the media that both Constitution and state law support give him such authority. They don’t. He does not point to a single line in either to support his claim, because he can’t.
And the media should remember this kinda disrespect before credulously reporting McKenna’s comments in the future.