Saturday, January 24, 2009

AP Incorrectly Reported that AG McDaniel Objects to Family Council Intervening (UPDATE)

The Associated Press (incorrectly) reported Saturday afternoon that Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has formally objected to a request from the Family Council of Arkansas to intervene in defending Act 1 against a challenge from the ACLU. Act 1, overwhelming passed in November, ban cohabitating couples from serving as foster or adoptive parents. However following the election, the ACLU filed a lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of the law. As the chief defender of Arkansas law, AG McDaniel is the default attorney to defend against this lawsuit. But as I have pointed out in previous posts, McDaniel has not only spoken out against Act 1’s passage but has given money through his PAC to fund their effort. And recently I learned that the assistant attorney general assigned the case, Colin Jorgensen, has also contributed to the group that opposed Act 1.

I raised my concerns regarding this conflict of interest to the Attorney General’s office and they attempted to make me feel more comfortable with their position that they could provide adequate defense of Act 1. I asked McDaniel’s spokesman Gabe Holmstrom if his office would support Family Council request to intervene. In an email dated January 6, Holmstrom told the Tolbert Report, “We don’t anticipate objecting to a request to intervene by the Family Council.”

After reading the AP story, I called Holmstrom to see what had changed since he told me this and actually reached him on a Saturday. I apologized for the weekend interruption but asked him if the story was accurate and if so why his office changed his mind. He told me he had not heard this news and would have to get back with me which he did on Monday morning.

UPDATE - The Attorney General’s office just issued the following statement on Monday morning saying that they did not object to Family Council intervening…

“The Response to the Motion to Intervene filed last Friday, January 23, by my office did not object to the Family Council’s intervention in this litigation. Before our response was filed, we informed their attorney that the response would defend both my integrity and that of my office. That is what we did. Although we did not oppose their intervention, we asked that the court justify the intervention on grounds other than their baseless challenges on our integrity.”

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