“Consumer protection is the core mission of Attorney General’s office,” she says. “This has not been on the agenda of Attorney General. We need an Attorney General who is willing to ruffle feathers when it involves going after these drug companies purposely making money off the opioid crisis.”
Contreras seeks to oust incumbent Republican Mark Brnovich, who has been A.G. since 2015, carrying out the agenda of Gov. Doug Ducey. She spoke recently at the LD9 Democratic party meeting in Tucson.
She was Ombudsman and Director for U.S. Department of Homeland Security from 2009-2012, Arizona Health Policy Advisor from 2006-2008, Assistant Director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System from 2004-2006, and an Assistant Attorney General from 2000 – 2003. Prior to that she was a deputy Maricopa County prosecutor.
She plans to enforce laws against drug companies and distributors that have caused the opioid crisis by flooding Arizona with hydrocodone and fentanyl. More than 3,200 suspected opioid overdoses have been reported to state officials since June 15, with more than 400 of those deaths, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
“Recently, 44 Attorneys Generals – Republicans and Democrats – took action to hold drug companies accountable. Mark Brnovich wasn’t one of them,” she says. “As this bipartisan group called on Congress to repeal legislation that weakens the DEA’s power to go after suspicious drug companies, Brnovich was one of six Attorneys General who looked the other way.”
“We are in such a critical time in our country now, we have to watch our backs. No matter what our legislature was doing to us, we used to have a federal administration that could stop it. We don’t have that anymore,” she says. “We’ve seen Twilight Zone episodes of what we’re living with now.”
She attacked Brnovich on several points:
- Private-prison lobbyists succeeded in getting state lawmakers to include nearly $1 million in extra funding in the state budget even though the Arizona Department of Corrections says the money wasn’t needed. She pointed out that Brnovich is a former lobbyist for the private prison industry. “We have our legislators who are being controlled like they’re beholden to other forces out there,” she says.
- Brnovich interpreted state law to disallow adoption by gay couples — a policy that the governor revoked.
- Brnovich challenged the Arizona Board of Regents policy to allow students in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to pay in-state tuition at state universities. That ballooned into a full-blown lawsuit on the entire tuition policy.
- Brnovich was one of attorneys general in 11 states have filed an amicus brief siding with ExxonMobil in a climate change case brought against the company by the Massachusetts Attorney General.
“This is not what Arizona is about,” she says. “You can see how far we have gone down in the respectability of elected officials. We are so far from where we used to be in terms of good government. That is what I want to bring back on Day One at attorney general’s office.”
As soon as she takes office, Contreras said she’ll announce an agenda to protect seniors and kids.
“The Attorney General has a great responsibility for the most vulnerable in the state. Every single kid who goes through the foster care system, the AG’s office touches. We need more resources for the child protective division of Attorney General.”
“I will prosecute fraud and elder abuse in nursing homes. This was a big priority for Janet Napolitano,” the former governor who was her mentor. “When you do outreach and train nursing home staff, they will have the confidence to bring concerns to you. They will know something would be done about it. That’s what I want to bring back to AG office.”