2018 Election, Criminal Justice, Elections, Politics

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter: Life is about choices, Phil Weiser made the wrong one

Life is full of choices – from where to eat and what to wear, to the company we keep. From a personal and professional standpoint, whom we associate with matters, and it reflects on us.

As an elected official, or a candidate for office, the bar is set – I think fairly – a lot higher. I’m the Attorney General for nearly four million Oklahomans, and I can tell you they notice who I work with, and what I’ve done. When they cast their votes for their next Attorney General, I expect them to consider my associations – my record. It is, as the phrase goes, fair game.

That brings us to the race to become Colorado’s next attorney general, and Democrat Phil Weiser. Mr. Weiser has zero prosecutorial experience, and he has never tried a case in a Colorado courtroom. In fact, over his 24-year career, Mr. Weiser has worked on only six cases and one in particular stands out.

In 2004, Phil Weiser represented a twice-convicted pedophile, Anthony H. Warnick, who was appealing the calculation of his “good-time” credits in order to get out of prison early. Warnick had been convicted on four counts of Lewd Molestation of a Child and was sentenced to ten years in prison in Oklahoma. Years later, in 1996, Warnick was again convicted of new charges of Lewd Molestation and Sexual Abuse of a Child. His victims were two boys, ages five and six, again in Oklahoma. While serving his second sentence, Warnick attempted to get out of prison early by appealing an audit of his “good-time” credits from his first offense. That’s when Mr. Weiser enters the picture.

Mr. Weiser, straining at a constitutional argument, attempted to get a child predator out of jail early by arguing Warnick should be released due to “good time” credits “earned” during his first four years served. One of my predecessors—a Democract—fought against Phil Weiser to keep the pedophile in prison.

To be exact, Mr. Weiser’s central argument to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals was, “…the State has deprived Mr. Warnick of a constitutionally cognizable liberty interest in an earlier release date.”

Now, we know Mr. Weiser expected this to be an issue in this political campaign, because as soon as the Republican Attorneys General Association released their ad, “Unfit”, Mr. Weiser’s campaign went up with a response ad. In it, Mr. Weiser asserts outright indignation over the discussion of his record. Respectfully, and this is for Mr. Weiser directly, that is utter nonsense. You are running for attorney general: your record should be scrutinized.

Do not fall for Mr. Weiser’s attempts to distract you from an important debate about the choice he made to represent a child abuser. A record he is “proud of”.  Nobody should be proud of representing a twice-convicted pedophile. He could have turned this case down. He didn’t.

So, let’s be clear. An attorney general has a solemn responsibility to address and remedy instances where the legal system short circuits. But this is not a case in which innocence or a grave miscarriage of justice is at issue.

A candidate for attorney general, looking to be Colorado’s chief law enforcement officer, ought to be a proven protector that sides for public safety over a pedophile.

I would never try to get a pedophile out of jail early based on the “good time” he claims to have had in prison. I simply would not do it. Phil Weiser did. Phil Weiser represented the worst of our society, a child abuser, on a long-shot appeal. Oklahomans do not want that monster out of jail early—nor should Coloradans.

I agree with Lora Thomas. Mr. Weiser: your inexperience is worrisome and your judgement is disqualifying.

Mike Hunter, a Republican, is the Attorney General of Oklahoma.

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