Ranked by Hans Bader of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
State attorneys general are among the most powerful office holders in the country. Unlike governors and legislators, each state’s top elected lawyer has fewer institutional checks on his or her powers. Yet, with the possible exception of former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, the power wielded by attorneys general receives very little scrutiny from the media, voters, and even tort reform advocates — even though it can often be abused.
Based on a set of explicit criteria — such as encroachment on the powers of other branches of government, meddling in the affairs of other states or federal agencies, encouragement of judicial activism and frivolous lawsuits, favoritism towards campaign contributors, ethical breaches, and failure to provide representation to state agencies or to provide legal advice — the following state attorneys general have earned the dishonor of being the nation’s Top Ten Worst:
10. Tom Reilly, Massachusetts
9. Peg Lautenschlager, Wisconsin
8. Lisa Madigan, Illinois
7. William Sorrell, Vermont
6. Darrell McGraw, West Virginia
5. Patrick Lynch, Rhode Island
4. Zulima Farber, New Jersey
3. Eliot Spitzer, New York
2. Bill Lockyer, California
1. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut