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Attorney general hopeful Edward “Smitty” Smith challenged his opponents to take an ethics pledge this morning, injecting some combativeness into the race to hold the newly electable position.
Smitty’s ethics pledge includes prohibitions on taking gifts from lobbyists and participating in matters involving former clients for two years after taking office. Smitty also wants each candidate to produce a potential list of their conflicts of interest.
“Some of it is common sense, but sometimes common sense is not so common,” Smitty said, flanked by a handful of supporters in front of the Wilson Building.
Smitty’s campaign gives the candidates 48 hours to take the pledge themselves. The campaign has created a website to track responses, complete with a countdown clock. So far, Smitty’s picture has a blue check-mark, while his four opponents are all next to red “x’s.”
Smitty’s own conflict admission, described in his form as the “appearance of conflict,” comes from his campaign hiring of a company owned by activist Jauhar Abrahams to help gather ballot signatures. Abrahams, a co-founder of anti-violence group Peaceoholics, is facing a hefty judgment in a lawsuit filed by the Office of the Attorney General for allegedly filing bogus tax forms to score city grants.
The other candidates aren’t exactly rushing to sign on to a document that, at best, would show them following Smitty’s lead. Candidates Lateefah Williams and Paul Zukerberg didn’t respond to LL’s request for comment. In an emailed statement to LL, Karl Racine consultant Sean Rankin says only that Racine will run an exceptionally ethical office.
Allison Abney, a spokeswoman for candidate Lorie Masters, has another gripe with the pledge: its delivery. Abney says her office received the pledge via courier this morning, but couldn’t figure out who had sent it. That mystery had them worried about whether a “subversive” was behind the package.
“If we’re going to talk about accountability and professionalism, no offense, but this document is not really the way to start this conversation,” Abney says.
Photo by Will Sommer