On the Issues
As a prosecutor and a legislator, Kwame Raoul built a reputation for taking the lead in defending the rights of Illinois families. Please explore the topics below to learn more about Kwame and why he’s the best choice for attorney general.
Keeping Illinoisans safe from sexual assault, domestic violence and gun crime
As a father of two, Kwame knows the most important job parents have – and sometimes the hardest – is to keep their kids safe. Whether from street violence, school shootings or online predators, our children are at risk. As attorney general, Kwame will meet these threats head-on, cracking down on those who endanger children and helping parents rest more securely, knowing they have an ally as the state’s top lawyer.
When he served in the Illinois Senate, Kwame sponsored tougher penalties for child pornography, updated the state’s law against cyberstalking and passed legislation requiring people charged with child sexual assault to give DNA samples.
As attorney general, Kwame will work closely with local law enforcement and state’s attorneys to make sure they have the tools they need to catch child predators – whether online or on the block – and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.
Gun violence threatens every community, and that’s why Kwame has strengthened penalties against gun traffickers and repeat gun offenders, created sentencing guidelines that keep violent criminals off the street and held adults responsible for gun crimes committed by minors to whom they illegally sold firearms. He’s successfully pushed for commonsense gun laws that expand background checks, require gun owners to report lost or stolen guns, and keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.
Victims’ rights are of critical importance to Kwame. He passed a sexual assault survivors’ bill of rights that ensures those seeking assistance after an assault are treated with respect and given the information and services they deserve. He updated the Workplace Violence Protection Act to strengthen protections for those threatened at work by their abusers and sponsored the law that shields domestic violence survivors from liability if they terminate their leases early in order to escape unsafe living arrangements.
Advocating for Women and Defending a Woman’s Right to Choose
For his entire career, Kwame has supported safe, legal access to abortion and contraception. He firmly believes a woman should be trusted to make her own decisions about her family and her health.
Kwame worked to expand Medicaid in Illinois and guarantee coverage of birth control and mammograms. He co-sponsored the law that ensures women are given information about how to access health care even when their providers have moral objections to furnishing the treatment they choose. He fought for comprehensive, medically-informed sex education in schools.
Kwame proudly voted for House Bill 40, the law that protects a woman’s access to safe and legal abortion in Illinois if Roe v. Wade is overturned. With those rights now threatened at the federal level, he’s ready to fight in court to defend our reproductive healthcare laws whenever necessary.
Kwame proudly co-sponsored Illinois’ ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and co-sponsored the Equal Pay Act to combat wage discrimination based on wage history. As a state senator, he’s held annual hearings to ensure woman-owned firms have fair opportunities to handle the investment of state pension funds’ assets.
As attorney general, Kwame will zealously defend a woman’s right to choose and access to the full spectrum of healthcare options. With the Supreme Court’s balance threatened by a Trump appointee and Roe v. Wade in great danger, Illinois women need an attorney general who is ready to go to court to protect Illinois’ abortion access laws against all challenges.
Safeguarding Access to Affordable Healthcare
Kwame’s father, a community physician who spent 30 years on Chicago’s South Side caring for patients regardless of their ability to pay, taught him that healthcare is a right, not a privilege for the few. When Kwame was diagnosed with cancer, he was already a champion of affordable healthcare in the Illinois Senate. Knowing that early detection and high-quality care had saved his life, he became more determined than ever to ensure all Illinoisans have the same fighting chance at good health.
Kwame co-sponsored the law that enabled Illinois’ early adoption of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. He has also passed legislation to expand the availability of drug treatment facilities, cancer treatment centers, and HIV/AIDS prevention and care.
Recognizing the severity of the opioid epidemic, he sponsored legislation establishing penalties for the manufacture and sale of fentanyl, a substance many times more dangerous and addictive than conventional opioids. He has led the way in banning new synthetic drugs and preventing heroin manufacturers and dealers from going on probation instead of serving prison sentences.
The Trump administration is working to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and take healthcare access away from Illinois families. Kwame supports the lawsuit filed by 19 state attorneys general – including Illinois’ – to block Trump’s attempted sabotage of the ACA’s health insurance subsidies for middle-class families. He will continue to fight in court for Illinoisans’ access to affordable healthcare.
Protecting Voting Rights
Kwame has always been committed to opposing attempts to suppress voting rights and disenfranchise minority communities. Illinois has some of the strongest voter protections in the country, thanks to Kwame’s work in the legislature. He sponsored the Illinois Voting Rights Act as well as a constitutional amendment prohibiting discrimination against eligible voters on the basis of race, sex, income, national origin, religion and sexual orientation. Kwame is a leading voice against vote suppression and the burdensome and discriminatory requirements, such as voter ID laws, that many other states have adopted.
Kwame joined the current attorney general and his fellow legislators to block the actions of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. He recently passed legislation – which Gov. Rauner vetoed – to end the state’s use of Crosscheck, a multistate voter information database proven to put personal data at risk and wrongly flag eligible voters as improperly registered.
As attorney general, Kwame will immediately investigate any interference with Illinois elections and advocate for secure voter information systems that ensure all eligible voters are allowed to register and cast a ballot.
Working for Criminal Justice Reform
Known in the General Assembly for his leadership on criminal justice reform, Kwame has passed tougher penalties for violent and repeat offenders while spearheading innovative approaches to getting first-time and non-violent offenders the resources they need to stay out of trouble and out of prison. Legislation he has sponsored during his 14 years in the Senate has addressed exoneration of the wrongly-convicted, expungement and sealing of criminal records, prison conditions, employment opportunities for people with records, and moving juveniles out of adult courts and prisons. He also sponsored groundbreaking police reforms.
As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee since his appointment to the Senate – and as its chair since 2013 – Kwame has brought his colleagues together to craft legislation that respects the rule of law, the presumption of innocence and the rights of victims.
Recognizing that stopping gun crime also means confronting the culture of violence, Kwame has promoted the use of evidence-based methods to keep dangerous criminals out of our communities while providing opportunities and resources to low-level, non-violent offenders so they can take care of their families and stay on the right side of the law. In the General Assembly, he fought against Governor Rauner’s irresponsible cuts to mental health and supported funding for job training and education.
His approach to crime victims’ services will include distributing resources to the hardest-hit communities and establishing a trauma center program to interrupt the cycle of violent crime by preventing victims from becoming the next perpetrators.
Fighting Public Corruption
“Sunlight,” Justice Brandeis wrote, “is the best of disinfectants.” Kwame is committed to shining a light on government operations and information throughout the state so members of the press and the public can hold government accountable.
Kwame has proposed increasing the resources of the Strengthening this division would reduce the current backlog in Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act complaints.
Kwame believes the attorney general must pursue that is brought to the attention of the office. He will collaborate with local and federal authorities to provide any resources or assistance they need to prosecute public corruption cases.
In response to the most egregious betrayals of the public trust, such as the torture committed by the John Burge administration at the Chicago Police Department, Kwame has insisted on a full public vetting and reconciliation for violated citizens.
Kwame was the chief sponsor of legislation creating the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission to investigate Burge’s crimes. As it became clear that the violations went beyond just Burge, he advanced legislation to expand the scope of the torture inquiry to all of Cook County.
Standing with Workers
Kwame has a long history of championing the rights of working families and organized labor. He is proud to have the support of the Illinois AFL-CIO, Illinois Federation of Teachers, Chicago Teachers Union, Illinois Nurses Association, Illinois Laborers, AFSCME, Operating Engineers, Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois, Teamsters, Illinois Education Association, UFCW and many other unions across the state.
The attorney general should have the power to go directly after businesses accused of breaking prevailing wage, minimum wage, employee classification, equal pay and wage theft laws. That’s why Kwame introduced legislation – which Gov. Rauner vetoed – to create a Workplace Protection Unit in the Office of the Attorney General that would have the authority to initiate labor law enforcement actions.
Kwame believes that no one who works a full-time job should live in poverty. He has been a strong advocate for raising the minimum wage to help working families across Illinois. He’s also fought for wage security and health insurance for caretakers who work with seniors.
With unions under attack at the state and federal levels, as Attorney General, Kwame will passionately fight to protect workers’ right to organize and engage in collective bargaining, aggressively enforce labor laws, and defend working families.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, Kwame said, “the ruling is a reminder of the role Illinois’ attorney general can play in defending workers, even when they cannot count on protection from the federal government or the courts.”
Protecting our Environment
As a state senator, Kwame sponsored legislation ensuring basic health and safety protections remain in place despite federal rollbacks. He advocated for allowing residents to challenge environmental permits in court when the proposed projects threaten their personal health and property. He championed the Future Energy Jobs Act, which will create thousands of jobs – including in disadvantaged communities – in the green economy. He opposed helping out big coal polluters and voted to protect children from lead poisoning by requiring testing of school water fountains.
The role of state attorney general has taken on heightened importance for the environment under a federal administration bent on rolling back emissions standards, enforcement actions against polluters, land and wildlife conservation, and our response to climate change. Kwame will continue the current attorney general’s practice of working with other state attorneys general whenever appropriate to protect our environment and the rule of law.
As the state’s top lawyer, Kwame will prioritize enforcement of environmental protections. He will advocate for full funding at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency so it has the resources to safeguard Illinoisans’ water, air and land.
Illinoisans in low-income communities, communities of color and underserved rural areas are exposed to disproportionately high levels of pollutants that threaten their health and quality of life. Such communities are also more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Kwame supports strengthening the role of the Illinois Environmental Justice Commission, and, when necessary, he will bring civil rights actions regarding environmental threats that disproportionately put particular populations at risk. Kwame supports bold action on climate change, including committing as a state to the Paris Climate Agreement, reducing carbon emissions and adopting a goal of 100% clean energy by 2050.