Sorrell gets competition

John O'Brien May 20, 2008, 4:15pm

MONTPELIER, Vt. (Legal Newsline) - A pair of Republicans made their intentions official this week, announcing runs at their respective states' Attorney General's office.

As expected, former U.S. Attorney John Brownlee said he will challenge for the spot in Virginia being vacated by Governor-hopeful Bob McDonnell, while Karen Kerin will face five-term Democrat Bill Sorrell in Vermont.

Kerin, 64, who lost in the last two primaries, called Sorrell "soft on crime" and says he has "disregarded the U.S. and Vermont Constitutions repeatedly" in an editorial.

She is a graduate of the University of Vermont's law school, then attending Pepperdine University School of Law for post doctoral studies in dispute resolution, followed by a year at the University of Nottingham for an advanced degree in human rights and international law.

Brownlee made his announcement in Roanoke. He recently resigned his post as the U.S. Attorney there.

"The U.S. Attorney's Office is an office that is similar to the Attorney General's office. I had a criminal division, I had a civil division, I had an appellate division," he said, according to a report in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Brownlee, 43, was appointed to the spot in 2001 by President Bush and led the criminal prosecution of prescription drug manufacturer Purdue Pharma.

Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty last year to misrepresenting the addiction capabilities of its painkiller OxyContin. The company and three of its top executives paid $634.5 million in fines last year.

It has also paid a $27 million settlement to 20 state attorneys general, and a $10 million settlement to West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw.

Kentucky's case is pending, and the McGraw settlement has caused great debate in West Virginia.

Brownlee was one of several U.S. Attorneys named on President Bush's firing list and testified that he was told he was on it because he would not back off the prosecution of Purdue Pharma, the report says.

Virginia state Sen. Ken Cuccinelli has already announced his 2009 run at Attorney General. He is also a Republican.

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