Oct 9, 2012 10:36 PM by MTN News
Candidate Profile: Tim Fox, candidate for Montana Attorney General
We sent the following questions to the candidates for Montana Attorney General; replies below are posted verbatim, with a link to the candidate's website at the bottom.
1. Biographical Information
Name: Tim Fox
Age & Birthplace: 55, Billings, Montana
Current Occupation: Attorney.
Education: Juris Doctor, University of Montana School of Law, 1987.
Bachelor of Arts, Geology, University of Montana, 1981.
Political Experience: Ran for Montana Attorney General in 2008.
2. What are the most important issues facing the Attorney General's office today?
My priorities are to (1) use my office to create jobs and jump-start our economy through promoting responsible use of our natural resources with my vote on the State Land Board, and creating a legal environment that does not unreasonably kill jobs, while protecting the rights of injured parties to seek legal redress, (2) defend Montana when the Federal government over reaches and attempts to infringe on our State sovereignty and Constitutional rights, (3) partner with local law enforcement to provide the very best assistance to fight crime and protect Montanans, and (4) fix long-standing problems at the Montana Department of Justice such as slow forensic work at the State Crime Lab, a poorly maintained Violent and Sexual Offender Registry, issues with data integrity and accuracy of vehicle ownership and lien information in the State's MERLIN vehicle registration computer system, and a lack of available resources for local law enforcement agencies impacted by the Bakken oil boom in Eastern Montana.
3. As Attorney General you are often asked to defend laws which you don't personally agree with, is this a concern for you?
No, this is not a concern for me.
4. If elected, what can you do to make sure Montana children are safe?
The Attorney General's office is required by law to maintain an online Sexual and Violent Offender Registry (SVOR). It's one of the best tools that parents have to protect their children from sexual predators. But I know we can do better, and as Montana's next Attorney General I will bring many improvements to make the Registry an even more powerful tool. I will first work with the Montana Legislature to close loopholes in the registration laws that allow offenders to avoid updating their place of registration when they spend extended periods away from their registered addresses. I will implement a notification system where Montanans can sign up to receive email alerts or text message alerts on a cell phone when a registered sexual offender moves into their neighborhood or near any other designated location, like a school. In addition, I'll develop a mobile device application that Montanans can download to their cell phones and tablet PC's that utilizes GPS technology to map where offenders live, allows searches for offenders, and will receive alerts to track specific offenders. Citizens will be able to track address changes reported by selected registered offenders or predators, and I'll add a function on the SVOR web site to identify offenders that law enforcement needs to locate so that citizens can be on the lookout and report to law enforcement if a missing offender is located.
I'll also advocate for new legislation to require offenders to report all of their e-mail addresses, Instant Message names, and social networking pages so that this information can be posted on SVOR. When it comes to protecting our communities, coordination between state and local governments and the private sector is essential, which is why I'll increase accessibility to the Registry by working with other agencies, local law enforcement, and businesses as part of a public campaign aimed at raising awareness of this invaluable tool. And because a staggering number of our children have been solicited online, I'll work to increase resources for online policing against sexual predators, and institute tougher laws against online sexual predation.
I will bolster the Department of Justice's efforts to assist local law enforcement with verifying the whereabouts of registered offenders, and with prosecuting non-compliant offenders who refuse to comply with registration laws.
Finally, I will continue efforts to fight methamphetamine use and prescription drug abuse.
5. As Montana's top law enforcement official, how do you plan on enforcing the state's medical marijuana law while balancing federal law which says marijuana is illegal?
The Montana Attorney General does not enforce federal laws dealing with marijuana. As Montana's next Attorney General, my job will be to make sure that the Montana Department of Justice assists local law enforcement with enforcing Montana's laws including any medical marijuana laws.
6. Are you proposing any changes to the Office of Consumer Protection?
I am not proposing any changes to the Office of Consumer Protection. However, I will ensure that the Office is on the forefront of technology and nationwide initiatives to protect Montanans from scam artists and fraud schemes. As our digital economy grows, the Internet affects more and more aspects of our daily lives. At the same time, the threats posed by identity theft and email scams are growing rapidly. Internet scammers aren't just using personal data to steal your money-they're also using it for fraud schemes involving social security, employment, Veterans benefits, and insurance. Their sophistication is increasing daily, which means law enforcement must continually improve its ability to fight back. Fighting cyber crime is one of my top priorities, and as your Attorney General I'll be dedicated to enforcing and prosecuting Internet fraud.
We've seen here and in other states that prevention is truly the best medicine, and there are steps we can all take to better educate ourselves to stop cyber scams and identity theft. I'll work with stakeholder groups, local senior citizens groups, Veterans organizations, banks, utility companies, and law enforcement to help better educate those most vulnerable to Internet predation and identity theft.
7. When drafting the budget for the Department of Justice, what will be your top priorities?
My first priority as Montana's next Attorney General will be to audit the Department's current programs and services to make sure that Montanans are receiving the best and most efficient services possible. I will use appropriate management techniques to improve efficiencies, reduce costs, and cut waste. I will utilize the Department's budget whenever possible to fix long-standing problems at the Montana Department of Justice such as slow forensic work at the State Crime Lab, a poorly maintained Violent and Sexual Offender Registry, issues with data integrity and accuracy of vehicle ownership and lien information in the State's MERLIN vehicle registration computer system, and a lack of available resources for local law enforcement agencies impacted by the Bakken oil boom in Eastern Montana.
8. If elected, what will be your top legislative priorities outside budget requests?
My legislative priorities will include the following: (1) making changes to the 24/7 DUI Sobriety Program to increase participation in that program by more counties, and to allow county attorneys more flexibility in utilizing the Program in sentencing for other drug and alcohol-related offenses; (2) closing loopholes in the Violent and Sexual Offender registration laws that allow offenders to avoid updating their place of registration when they spend extended periods away from their registered addresses; and (3) addressing local law enforcement needs caused by the Bakken oil boom in Eastern Montana.
9. As a member of the Land Board, what is your natural resource development policy?
As Montana's next Attorney General, and as a voting member of the State Land Board, I will strive to secure the largest measure of legitimate and reasonable advantage to Montana in administering Montana's state-owned lands and resources, and would vote to responsibly develop our natural resources in an environmentally-sensitive manner to realize the greatest reasonable long-term advantage to the state. As the only candidate for Attorney General who has been a former geologist, a manager in both the public and private sector, a small business attorney, and who has actually protected Montana's environment as it relates to natural resource industries, I am uniquely qualified to make sure that Montana's state lands and resources are used to create jobs, enhance our economy, and improve our schools.
10. Why should Montanans vote for you over your opponent?
I have practiced law for 25 years in Montana, and, unlike my opponent, I have considerable experience in both the private and public sectors. I have been a Montana Special Assistant Attorney General, and I have practiced criminal law, civil law, and constitutional law both as a private practice attorney and as State assistant attorney general. I have also managed a division of a state agency, and have served on the management team of a large Montana business as a vice-president and general counsel. As the only candidate for Attorney General that has both argued cases before the Montana Supreme Court, and is admitted to practice on the United States Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, I am the most qualified person to stand up in court for Montana's interests and the Constitutional rights of Montanans.
My proven track record as a business leader, manager, small business attorney, and problem solver is also unmatched in this campaign, and will serve Montanans well in helping to create jobs and jump-start our economy. In contrast, my opponent has been a government bureaucrat for 12 of her 14-year legal career, and she has relied on political appointments and lobbyist positions for the majority of her legal employment.
I have pledged to join other state attorneys general to push back against the Federal government when it overreaches, but my opponent believes that the Federal government should go unchecked by the states when it violates our constitutional rights or our State's sovereignty.
Ultimately, it will up to Montanans to determine who is better qualified and who shares their vision for a better Montana. I trust Montanans to make the right choice when they vote for Montana's next Attorney General.