Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed official guest host Aaron Gulbransen in-studio to talk about the attorney general selection in the state of Tennessee and the unanswered calls for comment by Governor Lee’s alleged pick for new AG, Brandon Gibson. Leahy and Gulbransen later called for Gibson to come on the show and state her case.
Leahy: We want to shift gears a little bit from the 5th Congressional District to the efforts now to name a new attorney general in the state of Tennessee. That’s a big job, being attorney general.
And many states have had very aggressive attorney generals, mostly Republicans, who have fought against the usurpations of the federal government.
We’ve been critical of Herb Slatery, our attorney general here, who, by the way, in the last couple of months has actually done a pretty good job and has become more aggressive in the last months and won a lawsuit.
Got an injunction in federal court stopping this transgender issue in sports, which, congratulations to Attorney General Slatery for that. It’s sort of, not exactly too little too late.
We’ll say it’s good, but he’s not been the most aggressive until now.
Gulbransen: There’s still National Guardsmen losing their jobs because in part, the attorney general has not done anything on it.
Leahy: That’s a very good point. That’s a very good point. And so, back to the process. We had a professor from Wake Forest University here yesterday, John Dinan, who talked about this. And said 43 states elect their attorney generals directly. Five states it’s appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state legislature in Maine. In Maine, the legislature appoints the attorney general. We’re the only state where the Supreme Court, yes, the Supreme Court of the state, picks the attorney general.
It’s such a violation of separation of powers. And James Madison would say, what are you guys thinking? But nonetheless, it’s in the Tennessee State Constitution.
The Constitution says it’s only the Supreme Court that picks the attorney general, but by practice, it’s been a rubber stamp of the governor’s pick.
And that’s how Herb Slatery got in. He was the legal counsel for former Governor Haslam, and he was not really the kind of attorney general that I think should be aggressively promoting the interests of Tennessee.
Now, the buzz has been that Brandon Gibson, who is sort of a center-left careerist, I suppose you might say, and who’s now the chief operating officer of the state, was a judge, and center-left at best.
She would certainly not be the kind of attorney general that I would think would be appropriate for a conservative state like Tennessee, fighting back against all of these encroachments of the federal government.
But the word has been Brandon Gibson was the governor’s pick, and the Supreme Court apparently is following the same process as last time. We don’t like it. They won’t talk to us about it. Come on, guys, talk to us.
Gulbransen: By the way, I’m going to create more work for myself on this. But it would be very interesting for there to be a public questionnaire of some issues that might be of interest to the people of Tennessee for these applicants to have to answer.
But, yeah, it appears as though, based on sources that tell The Tennessee Star, based on how Brandon Gibson is presenting this around, is that she got a bad reception when it was reported by us that Bill Lee preferred her to be attorney general, and in part, she’s disillusioned with the idea of dealing with the General Assembly.
Leahy: Again, this is a separation of powers problem. The constitution says, of the state, says the Supreme Court picks the attorney general, but the duties of the attorney general are set by the General Assembly. And I think they are kind of realizing, hey, we’ve got some power here, and we might well use it to redefine that job.
Gulbransen: Also it was pointed out to me yesterday, and I completely agree with this point. The pro-life community should be very keenly interested in who the next attorney general is, given Tennessee’s role, and with our trigger law and our other pro-life legislation, in the wake of the abolition of Roe v. Wade. I would imagine the voters of Tennessee would want to know if the next attorney general is pro-life or not.
Leahy: They should know. They should know. They should know what the philosophy is of the attorney general. It’s an eight-year term. And right now, I’m sorry to say this, the Supreme Court does not appear to be transparent in this process, or at least in the way that we think it should be.
They’re basically saying, yeah, you can start applying on July 15th. Any attorney can apply until July 29th. They’re not telling us the process by which they are narrowing it down.
There will be, ‘perfunctory public hearings’, on August 8th and August 9th. But they haven’t told us what those hearings are going to be like. Last time, it was like 10 minutes per candidate with five minutes for questions.
There’s no way that you can have a robust public hearing. And I’m telling you, the Tennessee General Assembly folks that I’ve talked to are not happy with this lack of transparency from the Supreme Court.
Gulbransen: No. And the ones that I’ve talked to don’t like it either. Again, we just named a couple of these very important issues that the attorney general is going to have to deal with.
Brandon Gibson, I also think, did not do herself any favors with members of the General Assembly by refusing to address the National Guard issue if she were to have applied, because she just flat out …
Leahy: Well that’s a big issue. And by the way, because we don’t just, like, beat up on people, right? If we’re going to talk about an issue, our standard is, whoever we may have a question about, we ask them for comment.
We asked Brandon Gibson for comment. We didn’t hear anything back. So, Brandon Gibson, you got nobody to blame but yourself. Because this is an open forum. And here we are. We want to hear from you. Are we wrong? Tell us.
Gulbransen: Yes, make your case. That is, respond, because we’re here serving the interests of the people. That’s why we’re out here reporting the nuances and the details of the stories. In the wake of this, the several sources are telling me …
Leahy: Let me just pause for a moment.
Gulbransen: Yes, sir. Right.
Leahy: Because, okay, what’s our standard here? Our standard of reporting is public documents and statements people give us. Now, when you say sources, that means our reporter, in this case, Aaron, has been talking to somebody and this person is willing to tell us details.
It’s standard reporting practice. But it’s somebody that, when we say this is somebody familiar with the process, that’s what it means. Somebody knows what’s going on. But they talk with us based upon, you can’t use my name.
By the way, if you’re out there listening, you say, well, I’m not going to attach as much credibility to that report since they’re not using their name. That’s fair.
Listen to the interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.