“We’re Living in an Era of Extraordinary Corporate Power”


When Brian Frosh was sworn in as Maryland attorney normal in 2015, the Democrat most likely did not be expecting to shell out his tenure battling the host of The Apprentice. But beginning in 2017, Frosh and a slew of other Democratic attorneys standard took Donald Trump’s administration to courtroom on anything from the Muslim journey ban to rolling again environmental laws.

Frosh has declined to operate for a 3rd term this yr, and Democratic candidates in this quite blue state are eager to succeed him. One particular of them is Katie Curran O’Malley, who has experienced a front-row see of Maryland politics. Her father, J. Joseph Curran Jr., served as Maryland’s lieutenant governor and as the state’s longest-serving lawyer common. Her spouse, Martin O’Malley, served as governor from 2007 to 2015.

To grow to be AG, O’Malley, who worked as a district choose for 20 a long time, will have to beat Anthony Brown, who was her husband’s lieutenant governor prior to staying elected to Congress in 2016, in the June 22 main. If she wins, she’ll join a bipartisan group of lawyers common taking on corporate electricity. 

Previous month, O’Malley unveiled her financial justice policy agenda. I spoke with her on April 7 about utilizing the lawyer general’s business to take on corporate concentration. 

This discussion has been edited and shortened for clarity.

GB: When we chat about antitrust, I feel most men and women appear to Congress, to the Federal Trade Fee, to the Justice Section. How can point out lawyers normal guide the combat in opposition to monopolization?

KO: Traditionally, that’s what the states have accomplished since Conventional Oil. Now, we’re observing additional and much more AGs are banding with each other when it comes to heading soon after Amazon, Facebook, and Google. 

My father, who was legal professional basic for 20 many years, joined the tobacco lawsuit started out by [Mississippi Attorney General] Mike Moore. The additional states that got into the genuine suit, the more highly effective it grew to become. That’s why I believe the states are the leaders on this situation. 

We’re residing in an era of incredible corporate electrical power, and people are not genuinely getting it that seriously.

GB: There’s been a motion to broaden what is imagined of as the shopper welfare common and search outside of what influences buyers or charges when examining if a company apply is anticompetitive. What kind of conventional are you on the lookout to use?

KO: When we’re searching at anticompetitive behavior, it’s not just the pricing and worrying about the results on customers. It is also how it impacts workers and if these corporations actually care about employees. Amazon is just one of the main offenders, but we also have Uber and Lyft and how they’re treating their workers with misclassification. We require extra rules to guard not only buyers but also employees who are harmed by these massive businesses.

GB: We’re viewing a good deal of creativeness out of states to just take on monopolies. Maryland was the 1st state to introduce a digital advertisement tax. But we have witnessed point out AGs like Dave Yost in Ohio attempting to use a “typical carrier” legislation to get Google regulated as a general public entity or Karl Racine in D.C. bringing an antitrust situation from Amazon for placing rate flooring for 3rd-social gathering sellers. If you had been attorney common, what progressive concepts do you have for striving to control monopolization?

KO: I’m in help of those people AGs and hope to learn from their perform. I’m interested in looking at if New York is ready to go the 21st Century Antitrust Act simply because we in this article in Maryland would like to go an abuse of dominance regulation. That would unquestionably broaden the tools any AG would have when it arrives to antitrust violations.

And also imposing greater felony penalties. For a lot of of these providers, it is like, “Yeah, certain, give me the fine, but which is not gonna improve my actions.”

I will be urging, as the up coming AG, to broaden the rules we can use and enhance our antitrust lawyers. We have a large customer security division, and I’d like to see that we do extra on antitrust enforcement.

GB: Most men and women glimpse at antitrust and imagine of Big Tech, but there’s alarming consolidation in tons of industries. What industries would you want to take a nearer glimpse at in Maryland?

KO: We have challenges with agricultural firms, not only for their anticompetitive methods but also for what they’ve done to the environment. I think in 2021, AG Frosh went immediately after Monsanto and received a significant settlement mainly because of the consequences of the chemicals on our Chesapeake Bay. Travel businesses and airlines also must be looked at. Pharmaceutical companies—we joined in a consumer safety motion with other AGs from Purdue Pharma and the Sackler loved ones for the reason that of the opioid crisis. We recognize major medical center mergers as well.

GB: In conditions of collaboration, there is been extraordinary bipartisan overlap amid state AGs in using on monopolies, notably in investigations and lawsuits towards Facebook and Google. Why are you the finest applicant to have interaction in those people bipartisan efforts?

KO: All through my 30 years—being in the state’s attorney’s business for the initially 10 and then a choose for 20 years—I have been equipped to operate as a mediator on so many troubles. And even as a prosecutor, it is not all about just placing somebody in jail. It is about performing out solutions and acquiring an lawyer typical who’s been in courtrooms, worked across the board to come up with settlements as a decide, and mediate cases. I feel as nevertheless I’m the finest human being for that because of the many years of encounter I’ve had in courtrooms. 

GB: A good deal of people today feel of this as a second Gilded Age, with the potential for it to be a second Progressive Era and acquire on these firms through antitrust perform. How do you see the next five to 10 many years shaping up in conditions of the chance for condition AGs?

KO: I consider it’s a genuinely, seriously excellent prospect for the reason that all people can get driving this. There is been so substantially divisiveness in our politics over the past decade. But when it will come to how dangerous the effects of the Huge Tech businesses have been, I feel it’s bipartisan. 

The voters are on the aspect of, “Let’s rein it in. This is too considerably. We will need to get command of this now.” I have a sensation that we’re going to see a good deal extra changes and a whole lot a lot more regulations from the states, and not waiting for the federal government. 


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