Originally published August 9, 2022 (here)
By Dusty Christensen
Daily Hampshire Gazette
NORTHAMPTON — With just four weeks to go until the state’s primary elections, one of the candidates for attorney general was in western Massachusetts on Tuesday.
Labor attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan swung through Northampton as part of a trip to the area. In a sit-down interview with the Gazette, the Democratic candidate said that she has a record of “fighting and winning for working people” that she hopes to continue as attorney general — the state’s top lawyer and law enforcement officer.
“What I’ve been hearing from folks everywhere,” Liss-Riordan said before greeting potential voters at Woodstar Cafe, “they want an attorney general who has experience using the law as a tool to improve people’s lives.”
The Brookline resident has previously called herself “corporate America’s worst nightmare.” Liss-Riordan is known for bringing class action lawsuits against companies such as Uber on behalf of workers, and has also won cases against Starbucks and FedEx.
“The attorney general is the people’s lawyer,” she said. She characterized the state’s laws protecting workers, consumers and civil rights as “strong,” but said voters want an attorney general who enforces them. “That’s what I’ve been doing my whole career.”
Liss-Riordan faces two opponents in the Democratic primary: Andrea Joy Campbell, a lawyer and former Boston City Council member, and Quentin Palfrey, the former assistant attorney general. There is one candidate on the ballot for the Republican Party, lawyer James McMahon, who ran for the office unsuccessfully in 2018.
Liss-Riordan has billed herself as the most experienced attorney in the race. That was a quality that Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan highlighted Tuesday as he joined her briefly on the campaign trail. Sullivan has endorsed her candidacy.
“She’s the best qualified candidate and she’s a fighter against big corporations and fraud,” Sullivan said.
He said Liss-Riordan is the only candidate with the courtroom experience needed for the AG’s role. “It would be nice to have an AG who knows which way to walk to court.”
Opponents of Liss-Riordan have criticized her, though, for pouring $3 million of her own money made at her law firm into her campaign, including $2.5 million in July alone, according to state campaign finance data. Campbell has accused her of trying to buy the election.
Asked how she would represent western Massachusetts, in particular if elected, Liss-Riordan said people want the attorney general’s office to be accessible to them if, for example, they’ve had their wages stolen or been scammed by a company. She said she would keep open “outposts” the AG’s office has opened in Worcester and Springfield, and would consider opening additional offices across the state.
“Folks should be able to walk in and talk to somebody,” she said.
In addition to protecting workers, consumers and civil rights, the attorney general is also tasked with enforcing the state’s public records law. However, only twice has the office ever brought cases to enforce that law. Liss-Riordan said she would be “aggressive in ensuring public records laws are enforced.”
Later, Liss-Riordan briefly chatted with potential voters outside the cafe. One was lawyer Tom Miranda of Northampton, introduced to her by Sullivan. He asked why he should be considering her for the office.
“I know how to hold bad actors accountable,” Liss-Riordan said.