Pruitt officially enters race to replace Edmondson
By Patrick B. McGuigan
Former state Sen. Scott Pruitt officially entered the race to replace Attorney General Drew Edmondson today (Wednesday, April 14). In his announcement and in a press conference immediately following, Pruitt declined direct criticism of Attorney General Edmondson’s decision to stay out of litigation surrounding the new federal health care law.
However, speaking of his own intentions, he specified, “On day one I will challenge the federal health care law.” Pruitt said he believes the new law’s individual mandates requiring purchase of health insurance violate the U.S. Constitution.
He also believes that mandates on the states and “other aspects” of the law are constitutionally infirm.
Asserting “ideas trump politics,” Pruitt said he hoped to wage a campaign to “remind national leaders that we are a sovereign nation of laws and not of men.” He seeks to restore understanding that the U.S. Constitution emerged from a Revolution that uplifted “God-ordained and natural law” as the source of liberty.
Pruitt said the country, and the state, needs to “throw out of office all the people who do violence to the Constitution.” He committed himself to “reviving our founding document.”
In response to a question from CapitolBeatOK, Pruitt endorsed Edmondson’s decision disclosing records about employees of the attorney general’s office. The Oklahoman, the state’s largest newspaper, had requested the data.
Speaking more broadly on transparency issues, in his opening comments Pruitt pointed to a “Sunshine Act” he supported while in the Legislature. The measure, advanced in recent years by Sen. Don Barrington of Lawton, would require what Pruitt called “an open, transparent and competitive process” in use of outside counsel for the state government.
Pointing to his past record, former Sen. Pruitt noted his work on a range of legislation, including a measure where “I worked with Attorney General Edmondson” in successfully defending a pro-life law. He also touted his efforts for workers’ compensation reform and a re-entry program for inmates which encourages the involvement of faith-based organizations.
Pruitt expressed solidarity with the tide of conservative criticism of the federal government.
Aside from the new federal health care bill, he characterized several recent federal actions as violating the federal government’s enumerated powers under the Constitution, including new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) steps, announcement by the Federal Reserve Bank of steps to become more involved in community banking decisions, and President Barack Obama’s announced intention to “deputize” state attorneys general as federal consumer protection agents.
Pruitt promised that if he is elected he will “allocate resources in support of federalism and Oklahoma’s rights as a sovereign state.” In response to a question from CapitolBeatOK, Pruitt said some states and localities – “not necessarily in Oklahoma” – have been too aggressive in use of eminent domain powers to gain property for non-government purposes.
Joining Pruitt at his announcement press conference, held directly south of the attorney general’s office building on N.E. 21st street, were his wife Marlyn and their two children, McKenna and Cade. The family resides in Broken Arrow. Pruitt is presently a co-owner of the Oklahoma RedHawks, the AAA baseball franchise in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City attorney Ryan Leonard is also seeking the Republican nomination in this summer’s primary. On the Democratic side, city lawyer Jim Priest has announced his candidacy.