SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — During President Donald Trump’s nearly three years in office, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has filed more than five dozen lawsuits at a cost of more than 21 million in taxpayer dollars.
While the cost may look extremely high, Becerra’s office says the legal battle with the Trump administration has never gone above 1% of the Department of Justice’s budget each year.
Those who support Beccera’s efforts believe this is what Californians want.
“He is the attorney general for the state of California. He’s protecting our values,” Democratic political consultant Ed Emerson said. “Separating children from their families, detaining them for unlimited amounts of time and keeping them in cages. This is not who we are and California has to step in. We have to lean into this and fight this fight for the whole country.”
But Republican strategist Tim Rosales says Becerra’s legal fight with the president is more about the political spotlight and less about policy pushback.
“He’s got bigger aspirations. Certainly, attorney general is not his last stop. So, this is politics. It’s what you would expect,” Rosales said.
But should taxpayers be worried about how much money is spent on these suits?
“You know, at the end of the day, I don’t know that it’s costing a ton of money. I think the bigger issue is, is this is politics. It’s politics by Becerra. He wants to make a national name for himself,” Rosales said. “He wants to get himself on the evening news and this is how you do it if you’re the Attorney General of California.”
If it is in fact politics, it can be an effective strategy. What California currently is to the Trump administration, Texas was to the Obama administration.
When President Barack Obama was in office, Republican Gregg Abbott was the attorney general of Texas.
“I go into the office, I sue the federal government and then I go home,” Abbott said in a 2013 speech.
During his time as attorney general, Abbott filed more than 30 lawsuits against the Obama administration. He’s now the governor of Texas.
Political party aside, there is strong opposition to using taxpayer money for political gain.
“I do believe that in many of these lawsuits, our attorney general is wasting the taxpayer dollars,” Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, told FOX40. “If the state of California has a legitimate complaint against the federal government, they should exert their rights as a sovereign state. But that’s not what we’re seeing here right now.”
Coupal feels a majority of the suits filed by the California AG are frivolous and if even if it is a small portion of the budget, he says there’s a better use for that money.
“Look, these dollars that are being expended by the Justice Department could be spent on all other things like actually catching criminals,” Coupal said. “And it’s my guess that as these cases wind their way up through the courts, is that California will be on the losing end of the vast majority of them.”
And while we await decisions on the legal side, both political parties are using California versus Trump to cash in.
“President Trump is fundraising off of this in 49 other states. He’s gaining support in dozens of other states that look at California and they say, ‘Hey, look what California is doing.’ And California is kind of leading the way in terms of the progressive left and the far left, and that’s where we’re at right now,” Rosales said.
“Yes, he’s fundraising in 49 other states, but so are we. We believe there are more people out there, and the last election determined this, more people out there that support the values of the Democratic party,” Emerson said.
Attorney General Becerra declined to be interviewed on camera for this story, but he did provide a statement. It reads, in part:
“The fact is, I don’t wake up in the morning planning to pick a fight with the administration. We file lawsuits to stop the Trump administration from breaking the law and taking actions which would hurt Californians.”
[scribd id=436094240 key=key-IuKpbPnzGFUPKTOWuXw1 mode=scroll]