Obama invited to address state attorneys general

By Chris Rizo | Jan 21, 2010

Jon Bruning (R)

Barack Obama (D)

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-U.S. President Barack Obama has been invited to speak to the nation's state attorneys general at their spring gathering in Washington, a spokeswoman said.

The three-day meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General begins March 1 at Washington's swanky Fairmont Hotel.

Likely to be at the top of the AGs' agenda is expanding federal efforts to help struggling homebuyers avoid foreclosure.

The AGs' spring confab is traditionally held in the District of Columbia to afford the states' chief legal officers to address federal issues and meet with the sitting president.

NAAG spokeswoman Marjorie Tharp confirmed this week that a request to meet with the president has been submitted to the White House.

On Thursday, NAAG President Jon Bruning, the Republican attorney general of Nebraska, told Legal Newsline that he is hopeful that Obama is able to meet with him and his counterparts from around the country.

"We are proud to invite President Obama to meet with the nation's attorneys general. This is a longstanding tradition, which we are honored to carry on," Bruning said. "We are pleased that every president for more than a generation has accepted our offer, and we hope President Obama is able to attend this year."

Most previous presidents met with the attorneys general at the White House. There were two recent exceptions. President George W. Bush met with the attorneys general in 2008 in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, while President Bill Clinton came to a NAAG meeting to address officials.

NAAG will likely not know until just days before the meeting as to whether Obama will meet with the attorneys general.

If the president opts to follow in Clinton's steps and take the extraordinary step to come to the AGs' meeting, "There would be a lot of choreography involved," one NAAG insider told Legal Newsline.

The person also noted that there would likely be a debate over whether the president's meeting would be open to the press. The White House traditionally wants the meeting to be open to reporters so some sort of policy announcement can be made.

"They want the meeting to be on the news that night," the insider said, speaking on the condition of anonymity since they are unauthorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Meanwhile, attorneys general in the past have asked that the meeting be closed so that they may discuss issues more freely with the president. Then there is the question of photo-ops and who gets to speak at the even.

"It's all very dicey," the insider said.

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

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