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Lawsuit Seeks To Remove Republican Daniel Cameron From Attorney General’s Race

Cameron for Kentucky

A Louisville man has filed a lawsuit to remove Republican candidate for attorney general Daniel Cameron from the ballot in November.

The lawsuit filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court alleges that Cameron has not been a practicing attorney for long enough to become attorney general. State law requires candidates to have practiced law for at least eight years.

The Kentucky Bar Association admitted Cameron on Oct 21, 2011 — a little more than eight years before Election Day on Nov. 5.

But the lawsuit, filed by Louisville resident Joseph Jackson, alleges that the two years Cameron spent clerking for a federal judge shouldn’t count towards Cameron’s years as a practicing attorney.

“A federal judicial clerkship cannot reasonably be considered the ‘practice of law’ as defined by the Kentucky Supreme Court because it does not involve any legal service to ‘one requiring the services’ as there is no client involved in federal judicial clerkships,” Jackson’s lawsuit alleges.

Cameron worked for U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove between 2011 and 2013.

Ethical rules ban federal judicial clerks from practicing law unless they are representing themselves a family member or in some pro bono cases.

The lawsuit seeks to have Cameron removed from the ballot, which would send Republicans scrambling to find a replacement.

In a statement, Cameron’s campaign accused Democratic candidate Greg Stumbo of being involved in the lawsuit and trying to “steal the election.”

“The only way Stumbo can win is through corruption and he knows it. That’s how he’s operated in the past, and his sad, old school bullying attempt will not work on Daniel Cameron,” the statement from Cameron’s campaign said.

“Cameron is more than qualified to serve legally – remember 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.”

If elected, Cameron would be the second African American in state history to win a statewide election in Kentucky — the first being current Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton.

Cameron’s campaign compared the lawsuit to a 1995 challenge by Republican Will T. Scott, who sued to try and have Democrat Ben Chandler removed from the ballot in that year’s race for attorney general.

Scott unsuccessfully argued that Chandler didn’t have the required years of experience because he didn’t practice law while serving as Kentucky’s state auditor. Chandler remained on the ballot and won the race.

Democratic candidate Stumbo is a former House Speaker who previously served as attorney general from 2004 to 2008. In a statement, Stumbo said he wasn’t surprised the complaint against Cameron was filed.

“The constitutional eligibility of my opponent has been discussed in Democrat and Republican circles since long before the primary,” Stumbo said. “There is a real question of if he were to become Attorney General whether any actions taken by him would be null and void.”

A representative from Stumbo’s campaign said he has never met Jackson, the plaintiff in the case.

The lawsuit describes Jackson as “a citizen, resident, and registered voter of Jefferson County entitled to vote in the 2019 General Election,” who “votes regularly during general and primary elections.”

Throughout his campaign, Stumbo has argued that Cameron is too young and inexperienced to be attorney general. During the Fancy Farm political speaking event last month, Stumbo likened Cameron to a child.

“The attorney general’s office is always open to children. We love it when they come to see the office. But Daniel, we don’t let children run the thing,” Stumbo said.

After his U.S. District Court clerkship, Cameron worked as an attorney for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from 2015 to 2017. He then returned to Kentucky to work as a corporate lawyer for Frost Brown Todd in Louisville.

Cameron played football at the University of Louisville, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a law degree.

This story has been updated.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. He's covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He grew up in Lexington.

Email Ryland at
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