Although many state law-enforcement agencies face budget cuts and often take action against large entities with unlimited resources, Felecia Rotellini said that would not deter her as Arizona attorney general.
The former state prosecutor and superintendent of the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions said that her legal arsenal needs only the facts, law and subpeona power.
“I have never had a case where a felt I was at a disadvantage because the other guys, whether it was a criminal-defense lawyer or a company, had more to fight with than I did,” said Rotellini, the Democratic nominee for the general election in November. “Nothing irritates me more than a state agency saying that it can’t do what it needs to because it doesn’t have the money.”
In a visit to the East Valley Tribune last week, Rotellini aggressively defended herself against charges from Republican nominee Tom Horne that her trial-case resume is limited.
She cited her experience as lead litigator against accounting giant Arthur Andersen in case involving fraud by the Baptist Foundation of Arizona. In 2002, the giant accounting firm agreed to a settlement in which $217 million was repaid to victims of the foundation’s scam.
In 1996, then-assistant attorney general Rotellini represented the Arizona banking department in a license revocation suit against Tucson collection agency Millken & Michaels. After a 28-day hearing, Milliken & Michaels lost and appealed in U.S. District Court, where Rotellini defended the state.
“I’ve been in the civil and criminal divisions of the attorney general’s office,” Rotellini said. “I have a background in financial and accounting fraud. With four years in the private sector and 13 years in the attorney general’s office, that is 17 years of litigation.”
Rotellini did not support SB 1070 — she said the law “does not fix” the immigration problem — but did say she would, as attorney general, defend it against legal challenges. She believes that pursuing organized criminals who smuggle humans and drugs into the country is a more effective approach.
“Once it get past the checkpoints, the (contraband) goes all over,” Rotellini said. “That’s the heart of the problem, and that’s what the attorney general’s office should be going after.”
The federal government, Rotellini said, needs to be “compelled” to do its job, with a lawsuit if necessary.
In other legal matters, Rotellini said she would continue the state’s lawsuit challenging federal health-care reform. She would build on mortgage regulation and loan-officer licensing started by the Department of Financial Institutions and aggressively enforce the state’s open-meeting laws, she said.
Rotellini said that an attorney general could help the state of the economy by providing oversight that discourages unethical companies from doing business in the state. She also said she would create an elder-affairs unit to protect seniors from financial predators.