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His claim to fame is that — as part of the Marine Corps — he was the lead American attorney adviser to Iraqi prosecutors in the trial of Saddam Hussein.
Now retired from the military, the Waterloo resident is the Republican candidate for Illinois attorney general, and he stopped by Peru on Thursday to meet with former state Sen. Gary Dahl.
Schimpf compared his campaign to the story of “David and Goliath” in going up against incumbent Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
“This is the year — if we’re going to beat her — this is the year to do it,” he said. “I think I’m the one to beat her.”
Schimpf called Madigan “a do-nothing attorney general,” but said his complaint wasn’t against her specifically and that he wasn’t looking at this as a partisan problem: “I don’t think the Democrats have a monopoly on corruption.”
He didn’t hesitate to speak critically of his own party as he pointed out his lack of political background.
“I wasn’t recruited by the leadership of the Republican Party. That makes me uniquely qualified,” he said. “I think that’s my biggest qualification.”
While Schimpf said his values are “limited government, individual freedom, religious liberty and respect for life,” he emphasized his desire to work with those holding other views and said his military background enables him to do so.
“You have to be able to work with people across the political and social spectrum,” he said, pointing out he worked on energy and environment issues in the Pentagon under President Barack Obama’s administration.
But he definitely wants to see the office run differently.
“Right now, it’s just another cog in the government patronage machine,” he said. He said the attorney general should focus on “anti-corruption, wrongdoing and transparency,” highlighting the recent funding mismanagement scandal of Gov. Pat Quinn’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.
“Our current attorney general is in a position to provide oversight, and she didn’t,” he said.
Schimpf says if elected he would “institute a bottom-up review of the roles of the attorney general office.” He said the office should “act as a check and balance against the excesses of the legislative and executive branches.”
He said he had “loyalty to the federal and state Constitution rather than a political party” and emphasized the position was “not a partisan office to score points with the Republican Party.”
Rachel Stella can be reached at (815) 220-6933 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @NT_LaSalle.
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