Blumenthal issues opinion to possible successor

John O'Brien Feb. 2, 2010, 2:14pm


HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Simply being a member of the Connecticut Bar Association likely doesn't mean an attorney may run for attorney general, state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal wrote to a candidate Tuesday.

Blumenthal was responding to a request for a formal opinion from current Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, a candidate to replace him after he runs for U.S. Senate this year. Bysiewicz is an attorney, but state law requires 10 years of "active practice" for an attorney general candidate.

There is some question as to whether Bysiewicz has filled that requirement.

"Had the General Assembly intended only that the Attorney General be a member of the Connecticut bar for ten years, regardless of whether he actually practiced law, it could have said so without using the words 'active practice,'" wrote Blumenthal, a Democrat who is the nation's longest tenured AG.

"Maintenance of active bar status requires only compliance with mandatory filings and payment of certain professional fees, and does not require that an attorney engage in the practice of law at all."

The Hartford Courant reported that Bysiewicz took a 50-percent exemption from an annual $110 fee by saying she did not practice law as an occupation from 2006-2008.

The Courant also reported that taxpayers pay that fee for at least seven of her staff members, while Blumenthal's attorneys pay their own fees.

Bysiewicz has been secretary of state since 1998. Former state Senate Majority Leader George Jepsen is also seeking the Democratic nomination for attorney general.

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