Bill Schuette addresses Eastside Republican Club PAC

By John Minnis

Legal News

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette was the special guest at the Eastside Republican Club's PAC fundraiser April 28 at Sindbad's Restaurant.

He served coffee.

It was no slight. Schuette, who won election as the state's top lawyer in November, loves to serve coffee. It has been his winning formula.

In 1984 -- after having earned a B.S. in foreign service from Georgetown University and a J.D. from the University of San Francisco Law School and serving as a delegate to the Republican conventions in 1972, 1974 and 1982 -- the 31-year-old Midland native decided to run for political office -- not just any office, but that of the entrenched, three-term Democratic incumbent Donald J. Albost.

"No one gave me a prayer. No one gave me chance to win," he recalled. "I poured coffee for 18 months at every Farm Bureau, Kiwanis Club meeting, you name it. I won by 1,308 votes. Every cup of coffee counts!"

Schuette served three terms in Congress before unsuccessfully challenging incumbent Democrat Carl Levin for his seat in the U.S. Senate in 1990. Gov. John Engler appointed Schuette as the director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture, where he served until 1993. While director, Schuette and his wife, Cynthia, created the Michigan Harvest Gathering, a food and fund drive to help feed hungry people throughout the state. The Michigan Harvest Gathering raised more than $4 million and 6 million pounds of food over a 12-year period.

In November 1994, Schuette was elected to the Michigan Senate, where he served until being elected to the Michigan Court of Appeals in 2002. After leaving the judiciary in 2009, Schuette joined Warner, Norcross & Judd.

On Nov. 2, 2010, Schuette was elected attorney general of Michigan.

As attorney general of Michigan, Schuette said, "Job One is Jobs." He said he has assigned a development officer to facilitate legal matters, to "break down barriers," for businesses looking to create jobs in Michigan.

From his perspective as attorney general, he said he sees an "Old Michigan" and a "New Michigan."

Old Michigan overtaxed, overspent, over-regulated and was too-big government, Schuette said.

"Michigan deserves a lot better," he said. "Fortunately, it's morning in Michigan. We have a new team. We have a great new governor: Rick Snyder. We're holding all the cards, including a conservative Supreme Court that doesn't make things up as they go along. Now we need to perform."

Schuette said he had the opportunity to meet President Ronald Reagan, who traveled to Midland to speak on the young challenger's behalf back in 1984, the time Schuette won by just 1,308 votes.

"He told me three things," Schuette recalled, "remember your promises, remember your principals and there are things worth fighting for."

While running for attorney general, Schuette said he made three promises:

1) To support Arizona in its right to fight illegal immigration.

2) To prevent the Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.

3) To "fight Obamacare tooth and nail."

After 128 days in office, Schuette said, he has:

1) Filed lawsuit on behalf of a group of likeminded attorneys general in support of Arizona's right to protect itself when "the federal government fails to do so."

2) Filed suit to force the closure of the locks and to build a permanent barrier to prevent the Asian from reaching the Great Lakes.

3) As a Constitution-oriented attorney general, he is constantly fighting the overreach of federal government such as with "Obamacare" (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act).

He said the No. 1 role of government is public safety, and as attorney general he will "keep the bad guys locked up" and at the same time keep costs down through privatization of services. Public corruption is one of the new attorney general's top priorities.

"On my watch," Schuette said, "there will be no more Kwame Kilpatricks."

Published: Mon, May 9, 2011