On Tuesday, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported that a new lawsuit seeks to remove Daniel Cameron from the ballot as the Kentucky GOP’s nominee for state attorney general.
According to the lawsuit, filed by retired union worker and “concerned citizen” Joseph Leon Jackson Sr. in Jefferson Circuit Court, Cameron does not meet the office requirement of having practiced law for eight years — because although he was admitted by the Kentucky Bar Association in 2011, he spent two of the following years clerking for U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove.
Ethics rules prohibit lawyers from practicing law during a judicial clerkship, and thus, the lawsuit argues, Cameron has not practiced for the required eight years.
Cameron is a former lawyer for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and is widely considered his protégé. His Democratic opponent is Greg Stumbo, a veteran of Kentucky politics who previously served in the AG role from 2004 to 2008, and as Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives from 2009 to 2017. Stumbo has frequently criticized Cameron for his lack of experience as a litigator.
Cameron has pushed back on the lawsuit, calling it a “farce” and a “waste of time” orchestrated by an “out-of-state law firm” to help Stumbo. He also insinuated that he is being targeted for his race: “This is 2019, not 1819 — we will not let an old white career politician cheat a young qualified black attorney out of a fair election.”
Case law may be on Cameron’s side. A similar lawsuit was filed against Democratic AG candidate Ben Chandler in 1995 by Republican Will T. Scott, who asserted that Chandler was ineligible because he spent four of his nine years as a licensed attorney serving as state auditor. In that case, a state circuit court ruled that Chandler’s admission to the bar in 1986 was sufficient to qualify for the ballot.
Nevertheless, if the court rules against Cameron, Republicans would struggle to replace him on the ballot — and even if the suit is unsuccessful, it is likely to emphasize Stumbo’s campaign criticisms.