Okla. AG candidate pledges to be business-friendly

Chris Rizo Oct. 15, 2009, 4:00pm

Ryan Leonard (R)

Drew Edmondson (D)

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (Legal Newsline) - Ryan Leonard, a Republican candidate for Oklahoma attorney general, pledged Thursday to do what he can to promote a favorable business climate in the Sooner State as its chief legal officer.

"It is critically important that you have an attorney general who understands the importance of economic development, who supports business growth and creating jobs, and I certainly do," Leonard said in an interview with Legal Newsline. "We need to do everything we can do to create business opportunities in this state."

Leonard, 37, is running for the post being vacated by Democrat Drew Edmondson, who is running for governor.

Edmondson has captured national headlines for his lawsuit against a dozen large-scale poultry producers he blames for contaminating the 1-million acre Illinois River watershed.

If elected, Leonard would become Oklahoma's first Republican attorney general in nearly four decades.

"I will enforce the law thoroughly and justly," Leonard said. "As the attorney general, I will be very supportive of legal policies that create a favorable legal environment for business."

Edmondson has been described by critics as an "activist attorney general," opting to pursue litigation over holding negotiations with businesses.

"I will enforce the law fairly and justly and when issues arise with businesses you bring the stakeholders to the table, and litigation is an absolute last resort," Leonard said. "I do not support activism per se in the attorney general's office."

Leonard served as a legislative aide to former U.S. Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., and as an assistant district attorney in Canadian County.

He is the son of Senior U.S. District Judge Tim Leonard of the Western District of Oklahoma, a former state senator; and is the son-in-law of former Gov. Frank Keating.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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