When Brian Frosh was sworn in as Maryland legal professional general in 2015, the Democrat almost certainly did not hope to invest his tenure fighting the host of The Apprentice. But commencing in 2017, Frosh and a slew of other Democratic attorneys normal took Donald Trump’s administration to court docket on anything from the Muslim vacation ban to rolling again environmental regulations.
Frosh has declined to operate for a third term this yr, and Democratic candidates in this incredibly blue state are eager to thrive him. One of them is Katie Curran O’Malley, who has experienced a entrance-row watch of Maryland politics. Her father, J. Joseph Curran Jr., served as Maryland’s lieutenant governor and as the state’s longest-serving attorney basic. Her spouse, Martin O’Malley, served as governor from 2007 to 2015.
To become AG, O’Malley, who labored as a district judge for 20 yrs, will have to defeat Anthony Brown, who was her husband’s lieutenant governor prior to staying elected to Congress in 2016, in the June 22 most important. If she wins, she’ll be part of a bipartisan group of attorneys normal using on company electrical power.
Previous thirty day period, O’Malley unveiled her economic justice plan agenda. I spoke with her on April 7 about making use of the lawyer general’s business to take on company concentration.
This conversation has been edited and shortened for clarity.
GB: When we converse about antitrust, I believe most people today glimpse to Congress, to the Federal Trade Fee, to the Justice Department. How can point out lawyers standard guide the battle against monopolization?
KO: Historically, which is what the states have completed due to the fact Regular Oil. Now, we’re seeing much more and additional AGs are banding with each other when it comes to going following Amazon, Fb, and Google.
My father, who was legal professional standard for 20 decades, joined the tobacco lawsuit begun by [Mississippi Attorney General] Mike Moore. The additional states that bought into the precise suit, the extra impressive it turned. That is why I consider the states are the leaders on this challenge.
We’re living in an era of extraordinary company power, and persons aren’t genuinely taking it that very seriously.
GB: There’s been a motion to broaden what’s considered of as the consumer welfare regular and glimpse past what affects people or charges when assessing if a small business apply is anticompetitive. What type of conventional are you hunting to utilize?
KO: When we’re hunting at anticompetitive actions, it’s not just the pricing and worrying about the outcomes on buyers. It’s also how it influences staff and if these corporations definitely treatment about personnel. Amazon is one of the major offenders, but we also have Uber and Lyft and how they are dealing with their workers with misclassification. We require extra laws to secure not only shoppers but also workers who are harmed by these significant firms.
GB: We’re observing a whole lot of creative imagination out of states to choose on monopolies. Maryland was the to start with condition to introduce a electronic ad tax. But we have noticed condition AGs like Dave Yost in Ohio striving to use a “common provider” law to get Google regulated as a general public entity or Karl Racine in D.C. bringing an antitrust case from Amazon for placing rate floors for third-party sellers. If you were attorney normal, what revolutionary suggestions do you have for making an attempt to control monopolization?
KO: I’m in guidance of people AGs and hope to learn from their function. I’m intrigued in observing if New York is in a position to pass the 21st Century Antitrust Act mainly because we here in Maryland would like to move an abuse of dominance legislation. That would unquestionably broaden the resources any AG would have when it arrives to antitrust violations.
And also imposing higher felony penalties. For a lot of of these corporations, it’s like, “Yeah, certain, give me the great, but which is not gonna alter my actions.”
I will be urging, as the up coming AG, to broaden the legal guidelines we can use and enhance our antitrust attorneys. We have a massive consumer protection division, and I’d like to see that we do extra on antitrust enforcement.
GB: Most persons search at antitrust and assume of Huge Tech, but there is alarming consolidation in tons of industries. What industries would you want to consider a nearer seem at in Maryland?
KO: We have difficulties with agricultural corporations, not only for their anticompetitive practices but also for what they’ve carried out to the ecosystem. I think in 2021, AG Frosh went following Monsanto and obtained a significant settlement since of the effects of the chemical substances on our Chesapeake Bay. Vacation organizations and airways also ought to be seemed at. Pharmaceutical companies—we joined in a client safety action with other AGs against Purdue Pharma and the Sackler loved ones mainly because of the opioid crisis. We detect large hospital mergers much too.
GB: In conditions of collaboration, there is been exceptional bipartisan overlap between point out AGs in taking on monopolies, significantly in investigations and lawsuits towards Facebook and Google. Why are you the ideal prospect to interact in all those bipartisan endeavours?
KO: All over my 30 years—being in the state’s attorney’s office for the 1st 10 and then a decide for 20 years—I have been able to perform as a mediator on so numerous troubles. And even as a prosecutor, it is not all about just placing somebody in jail. It is about functioning out alternatives and acquiring an attorney standard who’s been in courtrooms, worked across the board to arrive up with settlements as a choose, and mediate instances. I feel as even though I’m the most effective particular person for that due to the fact of the many years of practical experience I’ve had in courtrooms.
GB: A whole lot of men and women consider of this as a 2nd Gilded Age, with the possible for it to be a 2nd Progressive Period and choose on these organizations by antitrust function. How do you see the up coming 5 to 10 yrs shaping up in terms of the possibility for point out AGs?
KO: I imagine it’s a truly, actually fantastic prospect mainly because every person can get behind this. There is been so significantly divisiveness in our politics about the earlier decade. But when it arrives to how damaging the outcomes of the Big Tech companies have been, I imagine it’s bipartisan.
The voters are on the facet of, “Let’s rein it in. This is also considerably. We have to have to get command of this now.” I have a feeling that we’re likely to see a great deal more adjustments and a lot a lot more laws from the states, and not waiting around for the federal government.