Should he be elected Connecticut’s attorney general, former Republican state Rep. John Shaban said, he would work to avoid ending up in court.
He’ll end up facing a primary to win that post, having lost the endorsement at last weekend’s state Republican Convention at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket. Shaban received about 25% of the votes cast toward the endorsement, won by Sue Hatfield of Pomfret with 69%.
However, Shaban needed to clear only 15% of the votes to go to the primary, which is on Aug. 14.
Should he prevail in the primary and the Nov. 6 state election, Shaban said, he would work to reach solutions without litigation.
“My entire approach has been and will be to talk first and try to resolve problems and avoid conflicts, and then sue second, if at all,” said Shaban, 53, who has lived in Redding for 18 years.
“Taking that approach helps everyone,” he added. “Sometimes you have to throw a punch, and if it’s to protect our citizens, we are going to do it.”
Shaban represented the 135th District, which includes Easton, Weston and Redding, from 2011 until 2017. He was the Republican Party and Independent Party candidate in Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District in 2016, losing to Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Jim Himes.
According to Shaban, lawsuits are driving people out of Connecticut.
“People don’t realize that under the current AG [George Jepsen], we instituted over 21,000 civil actions in the last full fiscal year,” he said. “You combine that with an unstable tax and regulatory structure, and that’s chasing business and people out of the state.”
If elected, Shaban said, he plans to create “a business liaison office” in the attorney general’s office.
“We will talk first in a private, privileged setting,” he said. “We won’t sue first and ask questions later like we have been simply to get our name in the paper.”
As attorney general, Shaban said, he would also help guide state agencies in a “regulatory process.”
“Too often, we have agencies that rule by bureaucratic fiat,” he said. “The AG can slow that down and stop that.”
Shaban said the attorney general can correct agencies’ actions through direct consultation, challenge them behind the scenes, or choose to take certain litigation positions that put them back on the right track.
As attorney general, “you represent the citizens of the state of Connecticut, not the government necessarily,” Shaban said. “You can stand up for the citizens in relation to the federal government.”
Keeping Connecticut issues in-state
The federal government has imposed itself in and over Connecticut in a number of ways that he doesn’t think are appropriate, Shaban said.
For example, he said, the federal government offered to “impose its will” over state issues such as local environmental regulations, building codes, and labor relations.
“Connecticut citizens have the right to manage Connecticut issues,” he said.
The attorney general can and must protect consumers, according to Shaban.
He said Connecticut needs to address the opioid crisis, “starting with appropriate conversations first — with doctors, drug manufacturers, distributors, and health care providers.”
The attorney general can also play a role in power pricing, such as electric rates, according to Shaban.
“A lot of this gets funneled through FERC [the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission],” he said. “The state can and must participate in proceeds to fight for better rates, better access and better capacity.”
Shaban said he is looking forward to August’s primary.
“We cleared hurdle one — the convention,” he said. “There will be at least five gubernatorial candidates in the primary and primary challenges at all levels.”
Shaban, who is originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., earned a juris doctorate at Pace University School of Law. He is a partner at Whitman Breed Abbott & Morgan in Greenwich.
As a state rep, he served as the ranking House member of the legislature’s Environment Committee, and as a member of the Judiciary Committee and the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee.
Shaban is a member of the Redding Republican Town Committee and former chairman of the Redding Water Pollution Control Commission.
He is president of Aspetuck Youth Football and Cheerleading, and the Joel Barlow football boosters.
Shaban said he likes living in Redding. “I love being able to walk out of my yard and get lost in the woods,” he said. “I love the open space and our town’s passion for the same.”