Kim Dudik has always wanted to help people, whether she was working as a nurse, attorney, or legislator, and she believes that being elected Montana’s next Attorney General will let her leverage her experience and compassion to improve the lives of Montanans across the state.
In an interview with The Montana PostCast over the Mansfield-Metcalf weekend, Dudik made the case that she is not only the most experienced candidate for Attorney General running in this cycle, but a “proven advocate for change” who can “start on day one” to fight for consumers, hold pharmaceutical companies accountable, better protect children from neglect and abuse, and use the Attorney General’s office to improve the criminal justice system from investigation of crimes to punishment for them.
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We spoke about Dudik’s time in the Legislature, where she noted she has been able to work with Republicans and Democrats, including the Attorney General Tim Fox to get bipartisan results:
I’m really proud of a lot of the work I’ve done in Montana. We’re not like other states. We come together and we find common ground on solutions that problems that affect all of us and doesn’t really matter if you have a D or an R or anything else behind your name if we can find common ground we can make great progress.
So I’ve actually been extremely effective at moving our state forward in the legislature from where we started eight years ago. We’ve seen changes on the untested rape kit task force in our state where we had a backlog that was decades old of 1252 untested rape kits. And so that was one thing that I was very happy that we were able to do as I was part of reforming those laws serving on that task force.
But more so I took my passion for helping children and wanting to do more in our criminal justice system because I’m the only one in this race who’s been a prosecutor at the state and the county level who’s held offenders accountable and I’ve done great work bringing our state together in the legislature and making changes to be smart on crime where we aren’t just throwing people in jail because that really doesn’t change the problems that got them there.
In particular, Dudik noted her success in improving Montana’s response to human trafficking:
And we’ve now seen that human trafficking which is modern-day slavery, especially for children, occurs right in front of our eyes and children, especially our forced to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. They can’t consent and so I worked with our current attorney general to lead some key reforms in that area.
And we actually led some reforms. I changed our state’s rating from being a D or nearly failing to be in a leader in the nation., and since then continued to build on that strong record and made it easier for children to access services and to make sure that our laws hold offenders accountable…and that they don’t victimize the person who has already been a victim.
Dudik called for the Attorney General’s office to do more to protect women from domestic violence:
We have to look more upstream and how do we solve those problems. At the same time, I think we have to make sure that we have adequate services once somebody has been put through that as a survivor of domestic violence. There is not enough funding in our state that’s been allocated towards victim services, there are not enough attorneys to help people who are trying to get orders of protection and I don’t think that there is enough training unfortunately in some law enforcement situations.
On a related point, Dudik argued that the state has not done enough to prioritize Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and plans to improve record collection and law enforcement coordination to address the problem:
To me it is unacceptable that we’ve ignored this problem for so long because the problem of violence against women in our indigenous communities is not new; it’s just been ignored and not made a priority for anyone at a statewide level and I plan to change that because I’ve already started changing it.
I think we should do even more and I would like to establish an official Office of Native American Affairs in the Attorney General’s office that has representation from all the tribes as well as all the tribal communities that meet on a regular basis with all levels of law enforcement to talk about the issues that we’re facing and come up with collaborative solutions.
Dudik also indicated that she supports a more robust role for the Attorney General to protect Montana consumers from those who would commit fraud against student borrowers and corporations that are harming our environment through climate change:
The Attorney General has to be a as a watchdog an independent watchdog to hold corporate bad actors or those who would fraudulently take advantage of students predatory lenders accountable so that we can keep the students in our state and they can have good-paying jobs and not be taking advantage of because they have student loans and so that’s another area that the consumer protection agency can help.
And then one last area and one thing that I hear about all the time is climate. I mean every we love. The environment Montana all of us do And climate change is something that’s real and it’s impacting our lives and the Attorney General should be more active in that.
We’ve seen other attorneys general take on like ExxonMobil because they fraudulently hit information about climate change for their own profit….and so in that way the Attorney General can actually play a pivotal role in climate change and holding these bad actors who have basically taken advantage of us and harmed our environment accountable.
And that’s really just a small sampling of the topics we discussed throughout the interview, during which Dudik made it clear that she has a passion for fashioning bipartisan solutions for some of the intractable crises of crime, abuse, and neglect that Montana faces and an equal passion for using the Attorney General’s office to ensure that Montanans are protected from those who would take advantage of us in civil matters.
Please be sure to listen to the whole interview here or wherever you listen to podcasts.