Attorney General Candidates Square Off
From Missouri Digital News:
MDN Menu

MDN Home

Journalist's Creed


MDN Help

MDN.ORG: Missouri Digital News
MDN Menu

MDN Home

Journalist's Creed


MDN Help

MDN.ORG Mo. Digital News Missouri Digital News MDN.ORG: Mo. Digital News MDN.ORG: Missouri Digital News

Attorney General Candidates Square Off

Date: October 6, 2008
By: Rebecca Layne
State Capitol Bureau

Intro: Two men with very similar backgrounds are campaigning for attorney general in the state of Missouri. Both are lawyers. Both are members of the Senate. Both once were Republicans, until Democrat Chris Koster switched parties. And both agree on some of the major issues facing the next attorney general. Rebecca Layne has more from Jefferson City. RunTime:3:24
OutCue: SOC

Increasing government candor and improving the sometimes rocky relationship between the attorney general and the governor are goals for candidates Chris Koster and Michael Gibbons.

The candidates agree the effort by the Governor's office to destroy e-mails violated Missouri's Sunshine Law, which makes many government documents available to the public.

Both say they would continue the investigation of the Blunt administration once they are elected.

Republican candidate Michael Gibbons says he will establish an on-line government records portal to resolve  future Sunshine Law violations.

Actuality:  GIBBONS1.WAV
Run Time: 00:28
Description: To look at the documents that are prepared on a daily basis, a lot of them are going to be public records from the beginning. Everybody knows it. There's no confidential information in it. And the way I want to do our record keeping is to go ahead and electronically file those in a place that is accessible to the public, to have an open records, public records portal that  people or the media outlets can go to look at to see something in particular or to look to see whatever's out there. I think to be very open and transparent in that way is very important.

Although Gibbons explains the importance of a public records portal, Democratic candidate Chris Koster emphasizes a penalty for the destruction of public records.

Actuality:  KOSTER1.WAV
Run Time: 00:27
Description: What we need is to make sure that voters have a lot of confidence. That we exist in an open government and that the records of government are turned over to the public when the public needs to see them. One of the things we need to do is to change Chapter 109 in the state's statutes to make sure  that for the first time there are penalties for the destruction of records and that there's some kind of mechanism available to go secure records that are in danger of being destroyed.

The candidates also say protecting Missourians is their main goal. Koster's plans to crack down on unscrupulous Medicaid providers who steal millions of dollars out of the state's Medicaid budget and Gibbons's plans to create a cybercrimes task force are ways in which they want to help Missouri's crime victims.  

Despite much agreement, however, both disagree on who is more qualified for the job. Gibbons, possibly hinting at the lack of party loyalty, says his commitment is what distinguishes him from Koster.

Actuality:  GIBBONS2.WAV
Run Time: 00:34
Description: I think there's a difference as far as commitment. People know where I stood, where I stand and where I'm going to stand in the future. I think that level of consistency and the fairness that I've demonstrated as a leader of the senate are things that set me apart from him as the next attorney general. One of the things that I really emphasize when I go out and talk to people around the state is I believe the hallmark of this office is justice. And the office is about justice seeking justice, not headlines. That it's about putting the people first, not politics. And I think those are things that I have a background in and that people can trust that that's how this office is going to be run.

Although Gibbons emphasizes justice, Koster insists his extensive law enforcement career sets him apart from Gibbons and other candidates in the attorney general race.

Actuality:  KOSTER3.WAV
Run Time: 00:18
Description: The main issue in this race is a difference in experience. If you want to be the state's top law enforcement official, I believe it's best that you know something about law enforcement. I've carried a badge in my back of my pocket for 12 of the last 16 years. I'm the only candidate in the race who authentically comes out of the law enforcement community.

Despite once being allies and colleagues, the two candidates are now on opposite sides of the party line vying in a close race as Missouri's next attorney general.  

Reporting from Jefferson City, I'm Rebecca Layne...KSMU.