Gazette opinion: Bucy offers best experience for attorney general

2012-09-30T00:10:00Z Gazette opinion: Bucy offers best experience for attorney general The Billings Gazette
September 30, 2012 12:10 am

Pam Bucy has completed the ideal training track for serving as Montana’s attorney general.

A Townsend native, Bucy worked for nearly eight years as chief deputy attorney general during the tenure of Mike McGrath. She represented the state of Montana in court, including arguing before the Montana Supreme Court. She worked with state lawmakers on justice issues and helped draft the state law that made a fourth DUI offense a felony, instead of a misdemeanor. She helped write the law that created Montana’s state public defender system.

As a prosecuting attorney, Bucy has won convictions against child molesters and other violent offenders.

In private practice, Bucy has represented small businesses, farmers, ranchers, labor unions, public employees and law enforcement officers.

She drafted the Montana sexual and violent offender act to hold those criminals accountable. Knowing that stiffer penalties would generate more trials, Bucy worked to ensure that local law enforcement had resources for successful prosecutions. She helped lawmakers of both parties assemble resources needed to launch local forensic interview teams that would be trained to talk with child victims in a manner that reduced the stress on the child while gathering evidence needed for convictions.

As attorney general, Bucy plans to spearhead a statewide initiative to educate middle schoolers and parents about the dangers of the Internet and electronic communications.

Bucy was in the attorney general’s office when it assumed the consumer protection office and started helping resolve those disputes without adding staff. She was part of cases in which Montana joined other states in suing big pharmaceutical and tobacco companies whose products had injured Montanans. Their efforts produced settlements that helped repay Medicaid losses and set up health programs still serving Montanans.

Bucy believes that attorney general decisions should be based on the law, rather than politics.

“I have no problem standing up to the federal government,” she said in a recent interview. “We did it under the Real ID Act and we did not at Justice (Department) implement that.”

A miner’s daughter, avid hunter and kayaker, Bucy has a deep appreciation for all Montana’s natural resources. She wants her children to have opportunities to kayak and hunt, and she said Montana “can and should develop our natural resources.”

In recent visits to Eastern Montana, Bucy has seen a “dire need” for additional experienced criminal investigators to assist local law enforcement agencies. She promised to work on getting more state investigators assigned to the oil boom region.

During the 2011 Legislature, Bucy was hired at the state labor department as efforts to reform state workers compensation had bogged down. Her first assignment was to work with lawmakers on the bill that ultimately passed and is credited with producing double-digit decreases in workers comp premiums for Montana businesses.

Bucy’s general election opponent, Tim Fox, is making his second bid for the attorney general’s office. A Hardin native, he has been an attorney in Montana for many years, but he lacks Bucy’s depth of experience in felony criminal prosecution, legislative work and administering a department with 900 employees.

The 2013 Legislature convenes less than a week after the next Montana attorney general takes office. Bucy is most ready to do the job on day 1.

We recommend that voters give their support to Bucy for attorney general. As Bucy said, “Relevant experience really does matter.”

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