A conversation with Judge Ashley Moody, candidate for Florida Attorney General

>> Hello and welcome again to this edition of Capital Dateline I'm your host, Brad Swanson

We are once again coming to you just a few blocks from Florida's Capitol at the headquarters of the Florida Cable Telecommunications Association I am today joined by our candidate for Attorney General, Ashley Moody Welcome, Ashley >> Well thank you and glad to be here >> Alright, so you have served for a decade as a judge

You've got two kids You've got a husband, but why are you deciding to run for attorney general? Why now, why this race? >> Well, you know I'm a fifth generation Floridian, daughter of a judge, granddaughter of a judge, wife of a law enforcement officer >> That's a lot of law in one house >> My husband is a federal law enforcement agent, so the protection of our communities and respect for our judicial system and the rule of law is a family legacy for me, it's a tradition This is not something that I'm just doing on a whim

This is very meaningful to me I want to play an active role in the protection of our communities and the betterment of our state, and I felt as a candidate for AG I could do that in a way that I could not do as a sitting judge so I resigned and am now a fulltime candidate for Attorney General >> So, all in, resign, you jumped in >> I am all in and enjoying learning every nook and cranny of our state and hearing all of the concerns that people have that face our justice system today, and I have to tell ya, many of them I saw as a judge, many of them I saw as a prosecutor, so these are not issues that are foreign to me, but they weigh on citizen's minds and we need somebody in the office that understands them and can make a difference starting on day one >> Well, so before we jump into some issue questions of what you're hoping to achieve, if and when you become the Attorney General, tell us a little bit about the difference between what you see in a major market like Tampa and some of the rural parts of Florida as you've been out across the state

>> Well, you know some of the crimes that we face in more urban areas are different in terms of what they face in rural communities Sometimes in the rural communities you'll see things going on such as meth labs and things that you don't see set up in the middle of an urban center, so there are different concerns but certainly a lot of the things people are worried about is how this epidemic of opioids is going to affect our state >> Well, I'm glad you brought that up because that's a question So it's a huge issue that both the current Attorney General, Pam Bondi, have been working and current Governor Rick Scott have been working on What do you see going on in that world and what are you hoping to address should

>> Well, certainly we have to commend leadership right now, because they are recognizing there is a critical problem, not only facing the nation but Florida in particular and you have to give credit where credit is due President Trump and Governor Scott have both declared this to be an emergency situation, an epidemic, and they've made it possible for funds to be directed into Florida to start immediately helping out with this crisis It is a crisis

We've seen overdose deaths jump up in recent years We're now losing more people in the prime of their lives to overdose from drug abuse than from gun violence and car accidents And so the immediate effect on these families, were ripping away people from their families and their loved ones Certainly that's tragic, but it also affects the economy so that the generation of people that are supposed to be providing and being productive members of society are being wiped out due to drug addiction and overdose deaths, and so now you have grandparents taking care of grandchildren, and that's not the way society, in terms of the economy, is supposed to work We've got this generation that is now wiped out and not able to contribute and so we're gonna sense that not only in the immediacy of family members but in the economy as a whole

>> Alright, so that is a huge crisis, one of the other roles of the Attorney General's office is to protect citizens Obviously we see Hurricane Irma hitting so we see the current Attorney General talking about price gauging and things like that, but also day to day from telephone scams, what not, but yet we have a business community that's out there providing products How do you plan to protect citizens of Florida and then also while looking to encourage a great, vibrant business economy? >> Certainly, if there's a true bad actor in our business environment, it's often times the businesses that are pointing out who's the bad actor Because any time a competitive market is upended for one reason or another in an instance of a bad actor, the businesses don't want that going on and certainly that's not helping consumers because any time there is a bad actor in a business environment, ultimately that's not gonna be good for the consumers on the other end and so there's a consumer protection division within the AG's office I would like to ensure that we are dedicating the right amount of resources and attention to that division so that we are fully protecting consumers but understanding that we don't want to come in and overly regulate or overly burden what is a free market economy

I think there is a balance in making sure that we are protecting consumers and making sure that we have an environment that business feels that they can do business and make a profit >> So let's turn back to another just travesty that we've seen the current Attorney General go after and certainly it's one of the hallmarks of what you've been talking about, human trafficking This is something that affects Floridians all across the geography It's a global issue Why is this an issue for you on this campaign and what have you seen and what do you hope to achieve? >> Well this is not just an issue for me, this should be an issue for every Floridian

Florida is now third in the nation in terms of the number of reported human trafficking incidents and we need to be aware that a third of our global human trafficking victims are children I think we saw a 54% increase last year in Florida's reported incidents of human trafficking so this is not my issue, this is all of our issue We need to be protective of the children in our state as well as those that are being lured into this horrific trade The way that we will have to attack human trafficking is twofold First, there has to be awareness both by the public and law enforcement in identifying the symptoms or signs of human trafficking

General Bondi has done a great job through the Council on Human Trafficking of bringing this to the forefront of public awareness You, yourself have probably seen along many rest areas or other public spaces, signs for if you are a victim, please contact us, this is how you can get help She has done a tremendous job in that regard Additionally, we've provided training for law enforcement and how to spot this It's often times hard to spot

>> Does this break along socioeconomics? Is it folks in tough neighborhoods, or is this across all economic spectrums that we're seeing these kids being tricked into it >> Well, you know it's not just children Remember we see at times when, even young adults are being lured into the trade They are promised if they come into this country and I'll be your significant other, and I'll provide for you and then all of a sudden that gets switched up and they're put into a trade they never imagined they would be a part of And often times when law enforcement comes in, it's hard to identify the victims

Sometimes the victims get wrapped up and they end up getting charged because we haven't identified that this is a criminal enterprise, that this is a huge human trafficking organization So, first, awareness is key Identifying when this is going on and then, second, you have to have well trained law enforcement and well trained prosecutors in this particular area in order to have effective prosecutions Again, you have to understand the victim dynamics You have to have different jurisdictions working together towards a common goal of eradicating human trafficking as opposed to maybe being competitive over particular cases

>> So it's really just a full web of all the people that are touching the issue, coordinating and working on it together >> Right, and you have to have the right expertise, because they are different kinds of cases and you do have different nuances in these particular cases that you don't see in others >> Is Florida's law equipping those agencies? >> In fact the AG's office, under the statewide prosecution, we would have jurisdiction on human trafficking, so we can assist in that regard with the local sheriff's office and the 20 state attorneys >> Great, so let's shift from human trafficking, certainly a major issue for Florida, to an issue that we've seen happening lately at the legislative level which is the recent changes to the Stand Your Ground law Stand Your Ground obviously is about the ability to fight and defend yourself without having to run under some of the old laws, and you need to be in a fully defensive posture

The old law was not there for the victim, it was almost there for the aggressor Now the Stand Your Ground law seems to put the victim in their rightful place Do you think the law and the laws that have been passed just recently are moving in the right direction for Stand Your Ground? What are your thoughts on that? >> Well, certainly the most recent law regarding the shift in burden from the defense to the state whenever a stand your ground defense is raised, I believe that's the one you are probably referring to, that's the one that was more recent There have been many developments in this area, and that's the most recent and certainly the shift in that burden simply puts the state in the position where they have to prove someone's guilt, and innocent until proven guilty is one of the basic underpinnings of our system of justice That's one of the things that sets our country apart from other countries, and any time we shift the burden to where it appropriately lies, and that's with the state proving guilt, we should support that concept and the state's responsibility to do that

Shifting pretrial issues to the state proving their burden, there are other evidentiary pretrial issues that we see where the state has that burden so that's not something that's foreign to the system >> So these are major issues that are both facing Florida and Florida's doing a good job of addressing but it always takes vigilance and that's the job you're running for >> Certainly in this particular issue, you know you will have challenge in the courts and if I were Attorney General, I would be doing exactly what General Bondi is doing and that's preparing an appeal to defend the law that is set up to protect those that are standing their ground, their self-defense rights >> We look forward to hearing more from you from the campaign trail We've got one final question here, especially in our industry

We are the only industry that connects and entertains, right? We love binge watching, we love watching shows that you can stream So when you're not focusing on these hefty issues, what are the shows you're streaming and watching? You can't tell me Live PD It's gotta be something else >> I can tell you that I am really looking forward to This is Us coming back on the air and I did have to watch that >> So you've watched every episode of This is Us? >> I have watched every episode of the first season, yes

>> Well, thank you for joining us and sharing with us your time >> Thank you for having me >> So you heard it here first That is the candidate for Attorney General's Ashley Moody's favorite show, This is Us Tune in to check it out

For now that's all the time we have for today's episode of Capital Dateline Hit us up on Facebook at Capital Dateline Online or check us out on our Twitter feed @theFCTA Thanks for tuning in

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