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William Tong

Running for Attorney General

15 CTNewsJunkie Reader Endorsements

Party: Democrat

CEP Status: participating

Website: www.williamtong.com

Age: 45

Marital Status: Married

Current Residence: Stamford

Current Job: Lawyer and State Representative

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Education: Brown University B.A., University of Chicago J.D.

Facebook: http://facebook.com/teamtong2018

Twitter: @williamtongct

Instagram: @teamtong2018

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If elected, what are your top priorities in terms of what you will try to accomplish in your first term as Attorney General?
My first job is to protect Connecticut families. We are under tremendous pressure, and we’re all getting squeezed by big companies and powerful forces that make it very difficult to raise a family, run a business, and retire comfortably here. Donald Trump makes it so much worse by attacking women, immigrants, and even Connecticut taxpayers. I will be the firewall that protects and defends all of us and our way of life. I will immediately strengthen and assign additional resources to consumer protection. We will focus on protecting consumers from excessive health care and prescription drug costs, abusive and predatory lending practices, and telephone and internet scams. I will expand our state’s focus on consumer protection lawsuits on a larger scale, from the generic drug price fixing suit to the opioid investigation, the net neutrality suit, and investigations and suits related to major data and privacy breaches. All of this is to create a fairer, more just economy for Connecticut families I also will work with the legislature to create a Civil Rights Division in the Attorney General’s office to fight for Connecticut residents when their constitutional rights and fundamental liberties are threatened.
The state has recently engaged with some other Attorneys General in litigation against the federal government. Are there any legal battles underway that you plan to drop? Is there any new litigation you are considering based on federal mandates?
I will not hesitate for a second to stand up to the President of the United States and the federal government when Connecticut families and residents are threatened. Like AG George Jepsen, I will file suit and join other Attorneys General across the country in cases such as the lawsuit against the discriminatory Trump tax law that attacks Connecticut families with one of the largest tax increases in state history by eliminating $10.3 billion in deductions for state and local taxes; the lawsuit against the EPA for failing to enforce emissions standards in other states that blow air pollution “downwind” into Connecticut; and the case against 18 Republican Attorneys General who are trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act in Texas federal court. I will continue the approximately 40 actions AG George Jepsen has initiated against Donald Trump and the federal government. I would also join the Attorney General of Rhode Island to sue the large fossil fuel companies in a Tobacco-like suit seeking damages for the catastrophic effects of climate change in light of hard evidence that Big Oil knew about climate change and rising sea levels and willfully concealed this information and took action to protect their business interests over the protecting the public. Additionally, as family separations continue, I will monitor whether the state has standing to either initiate or join actions to stop this immoral practice.
Thousands of homeowners in the north-central region of Connecticut are facing the loss of their homes to the crumbling foundation phenomenon. Do you have any new ideas on how to hold parties responsible for this or to ensure that an equitable share of the costs of replacing foundations is covered by insurers?
The Attorney General must take the lead in investigating the crumbling foundations crisis, the failure of insurance companies to provide coverage, and implementing a long-term plan to help homeowners protect what is likely their most significant financial asset, their home. This requires specific action on multiple fronts -- through legal action, state and federal legislative action, and state and federal executive branch action -- and not broad generalities and statements of concern. As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee this session, I introduced SB 518, which sought additional assistance for families who own these homes. As Attorney General, I will: (1) Immediately call on the new Commissioner of the Department of Insurance to initiate an investigation into the failure of insurance companies to provide coverage, and based on their findings, commence an action for damages under the Connecticut Unfair Insurance Practices Act (CUIPA). (2) Review the findings of the investigation based on the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) done in conjunction with the Department of Consumer Protection to ensure that any relief available under CUTPA has been obtained for homeowners. (3) Propose legislation to strengthen existing state laws and legislative responses to the crisis, including increasing insurance policy surcharges and dedicating additional state bonding to fund the “captive insurance” mechanism to fund remediation. (4) Continue to work with the federal delegation to push FEMA to provide emergency funding for remediation and, understanding that FEMA’s ability to provide assistance is limited, work to find new partners within the federal government, including HUD and the Army Corps of Engineers. (5) Re-open negotiation efforts initially led by AG Jepsen with insurance companies. (6) Work with the newly formed captive insurance company to bring in public (state bonding) and private funding and make this program a success for helping homeowners get full replacements of their foundations.
Eversource has been the focus of a lot of consumer outrage following storm events and other outages. What can be done to hold this utility more accountable for its performance?
The Attorney General is the first line of defense of ratepayers, not just with respect to utility rates but also utility responses to outages from storms and other emergencies. In 2012, I co-sponsored Public Act 12-148 which now provides the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) with the power to establish minimum standards for performance, including utility response to storms and outages; conduct regular reviews and investigations of such performance and responses; and to assess penalties, if warranted, for failures to provide adequate performance and response. This law grew out of the recommendations of the Two Storm Panel. (I also previously authored and co-sponsored legislation to protect consumers from unfair gasoline prices and abusive and deceptive practices in the electricity market, including deceptive teaser rates and promotions.) Eversource recently secured a rate increase of more than 3.8% in the first year, which is substantially lower than the 9.8% average increase initially requested by Eversource. In light of these increases, ratepayers and consumers have every right to demand increased performance and accountability. As Attorney General, I will increase resources dedicated to Assistant Attorneys General who represent ratepayers before PURA and vigorously investigate and contest proposed increases in utility rates (i.e., rate cases) to ensure that ratepayers are protected and treated fairly. I will also push the Governor to reconvene the Two Storm Panel to conduct a thorough review of the state’s laws and actions since their 2012 report, and ask the panel to make recommendations to improve or update the state’s laws in the next legislative session.
Eversource and some out-of-state entities appear to be attempting to buy control of Connecticut's water resources, and some of our quasi-public water agencies have signed away large amounts of water to commercial interests with little regard to future water shortages. What can you do to ensure that Connecticut residents maintain control of public water supplies in perpetuity?
The state must implement the State Water Plan, which was enacted by the Governor’s executive order in June 2018, and provides that the state’s water resources are a public trust as set forth in Connecticut General Statutes 22a-15. The state’s water resources are under considerable strain and attack, including, but not limited to, drought-like conditions and extremely low reservoirs in Fairfield County in recent years; privatization and sale of public water resources; and newly proposed mining in public watersheds. As Attorney General, I will fight to preserve our water resources at PURA and, when necessary, in state and federal court. The Trump Administration is trying to repeal the Clean Water Rule, a regulation that is a function of the Clean Water Act, which protects our watershed and access to clean water. I will take every action necessary to protect water as a public trust and our access to clean water for generations to come.
If elected AG, are there any new strategies you will pursue in the fight against opioids?
We cannot overcome the opioid crisis through broad generalities and statements of concern. The state must attack this problem head-on through a multi-pronged state and federal strategy. This includes, but is not limited to: (1) Expand the opioid investigation. Attorney General Jepsen has led the nation in investigating the opioid crisis, with a focus on drug distributors. I would expand the investigation to ensure that we include the entire addiction industry, from the big pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), pharmacy chains, individual prescribers, and treatment centers. We must understand the full scope and chain of financial relationships and incentives to ensure that people and companies are not wrongfully making money by fueling people’s addiction. (2) Expand the state’s ground-breaking and nation-leading generic drug price fixing lawsuit. By engaging in price fixing, the generic drug manufacturers drive the price of drugs up beyond that which people should be able to afford. The high cost of prescription drugs then compromises treatment and deters patients from getting the help they need. Patients may avoid treatment, use opioids as a substitute for effective treatment, or abuse opioids to self-medicate. Attorney General Jepsen leads 47 other states in suing the generic drug manufacturers for price fixing and I will continue to pursue this litigation aggressively. (3) State legislative action to combat access to opioids and the addiction crisis. As a state legislator, I helped to pass legislation to increase penalties for dealing fentanyl; limit opioid prescriptions to seven (7) days; increase the availability of Narcan; and expand access to Medication Assisted Treatment (e.g. Suboxone) under health insurance policies and state programs. (4) Promote alternatives to opioids. The state’s medical marijuana program, widely respected as the best, safest and most well-regulated medical marijuana program in the nation, provides an effective alternative to highly addictive opioids. As Attorney General, I will work closely with the legislature and the Department of Consumer Protection to ensure that we have a highly effective medical marijuana program to help patients in need. (5) Work with the new administration and legislature to cut through statutory red-tape to allow executive agencies and law enforcement to more effectively share data on prescribing and over-dosing. Too many of our agencies silo information due to statutory restrictions, but with thoughtful legal advice from the Attorney General’s Office, statutes can be re-written to maximize the flow of information. This will enhance our ability to understand the scope of the problem, make data driven policy-decisions and ultimately save lives.