Attorney General candidate Phil Weiser talks opioids, reproductive rights, #MeToo

Samantha Ye

Kicking off the local campaign scene, Democratic Attorney General candidate Phil Weiser spoke to dozens of Larimer County residents about the opioid epidemic, Roe v. Wade and #MeToo at a community meet and greet Monday evening, followed by a volunteer kickoff.

On top of outlining his own plans if elected, Weiser emphasized the difference between his plans and those of his opponent, Republican George Brauchler, a district attorney.

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“(When) people say, ‘Why should I support Phil Weiser?’…then you (the campaign volunteer) say, ‘Because you can have a lawyer for the people, who will help manage our water, take on the opioid epidemic … protect our equal rights, including women’s reproductive rights, or you can have someone who is the opposite on all those things,’” Weiser said.

A former dean of the University of Colorado Law School, Weiser said he will fight the opioid epidemic by suing the pharmaceutical companies for pushing opioids despite knowing their addictiveness.

“I will sue the pharmaceutical companies who lied to people about opioids, made money, and now they need to be held accountable, and they will have to pay back money to states like Colorado so we can invest in drug treatment to help people repair their lives that have been in many cases destroyed,” Weiser said.

In May, seven states, including Texas, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee and Utah, filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin, for allegedly contributing to the opioid crisis through deceptive marketing.

In Colorado, opioid overdoses led to 259 deaths in 2015.

The current attorney general, Cynthia Coffman, has not brought a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies (but was one of the 41 state AGs who served subpoenas to various opioid manufacturers to discern the role they might have played in the crisis, according to the Denver Post).

Weiser said Bauchler has indicated he would similarly be unwilling to bring a lawsuit. Bauchler’s campaign website says the state “cannot sue (its) way out” of the opioid crisis and opts for long-term community solutions.

Weiser also talked equal rights for all, specifically ensuring reproductive rights for women.

Weiser said he would fight to keep Roe v. Wade, the landmark case which legalized abortion nationwide, which may potentially be overturned with President Trump’s nomination for the new U.S. Supreme Court justice, conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Having worked as a law clerk at the Supreme Court under Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Weiser said Ginsburg taught him that if “women can’t control their bodies, their autonomy, and decide whether and when to have kids, they’re not equal to men.”

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Weiser said he will be the attorney general who is on the side of women and their reproductive rights, in contrast to his opponent who would likely be against Roe v. Wade.

In a 2016 interview with Politico, Brauchler stated he opposes abortion.

“He’s on the wrong side of that issue,” Weiser said in reference to Brauchler.

When asked how he would handle defending the state against sexual harassment claims, while respecting the #MeToo movement, Weiser said a good lawyer cannot always reflexively defend.

“When you’re a lawyer, you can’t simply take what your client says and say that’s the whole truth.” Weiser said. “You (have to) ask what part of the truth am I missing? You have to ask, ‘Do we have a problem as an employer?’ Because the job of the lawyer is to fix problems.”

Weiser gave his stances on several other issues including his dedication to keeping citizens safe from firearms while protecting legitimate uses of guns, commitment to state environmental and climate change laws, support of sanctuary cities, and protecting Colorado voters’ will for legal cannabis.

Most of all, Weiser emphasized the need to inform the voters of who they are voting for.

“Would you hire a lawyer yourself without checking any references?,” Weiser said. “So why would you hire one for our state without actually thinking about it?”

Collegian reporter Samantha Ye can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @samxye4.