Great Falls native Graybill announces run for attorney general
The Great Falls Tribune
May 6, 2019
Raph Graybill, Gov. Steve Bullock’s chief attorney, said Sunday he plans to run for attorney general next year.
Graybill, a Democrat whose family has deep roots in Great Falls, says he would be active in fighting for Montanans on issues such as high prescription drug costs, too much dark money in politics and preserving public lands access.
“The role of the attorney general is to be a lawyer that works only for the public, not for donors,” Graybill told the Tribune.
Attorney General Tim Fox, a Republican, is termed out and running for the GOP nomination for governor.
Graybill, Bullock’s chief legal counsel, is the second Democrat to announce a run for the attorney general's office. Rep. Kimberly Dudik of Missoula also is in the race.
Jon Bennion, chief deputy to Fox, has announced his candidacy on the Republican side.
Graybill plans to launch his campaign at a rally at the Cascade County Courthouse in Great Falls at noon Wednesday.
“I think it will be a good race,” Graybill said.
The general election is Nov. 3, 2020.
Why is Raph Graybill running?
Graybill said he's running because he's frustrated with politics right now. More and more, he said, the federal government is empowering the biggest players in every industry allowing them to gain more advantage.
“And you and I are the ones who pay as a result,” Graybill said.
Graybill cited high prescription drug costs and internet bills as examples of the types of problems people are facing and the types of issues that an attorney general can do something about “if he chooses.”
“I have watched with some dismay as some really, really important issues have come up in recent years and Montana has sat it out,” Graybill said.
Graybill, 30, is a graduate of Great Falls High School who later attended Columbia University, Yale Law School and Oxford as a Rhode Scholar from Montana. He and his wife, Marisa, and newborn daughter Genevieve live in Helena.
He says he's led the governor’s efforts to fight dark money in politics and protect public lands.
What has Graybill done as lead attorney?
Graybill is the lead attorney in Montana’s suit against the federal government challenging an IRS decision that shields some not-for-profit groups involved in politics from disclosing names of donors. The case is being heard in U.S. District Court in Great Falls. He also was the author of an executive order by Bullock banning dark money from government contracts.
Before the state Supreme Court, Graybill successfully defended Bullock’s decision that the State Land Board had no power to stop land conservation easements that Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks had entered into with landowners securing public access to new hunting and fishing sites.
In 2015, net neutrality rules were put into place to prevent internet service providers from blocking or charging more for online content. In 2018, the Federal Communications Commission repealed the rules.
Graybill authored a Bullock order protecting net neutrality in Montana.
Prescription drug costs and agriculture antitrust cases are also areas in which the state's attorney general has an opportunity to be a leader and fight for Montana, Graybill said.
Just joining lawsuits filed by other states, or a “do nothing, see nothing” approach, doesn’t give the state a seat at the table that taking the lead in a case does, Graybill added.
“I have never been a lobbyist,” Graybill said. “This is my first run for office. But all I’ve ever done in my legal career is fight for the public and fight for accountability.”
Prior to serving as chief legal counsel to Bullock, Graybill was a law clerk in Billings for Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
He was also an attorney in private practice representing inventors and entrepreneurs harmed by unfair business practices.
Graybill’s grandfather, Leo C. Graybill Jr., was president of the 1972 Montana Constitutional Convention. His uncle, Ben Graybill, runs the family law firm in Great Falls that Raph Graybill’s grandfather founded 100 years ago.
While studying in college, Graybill served as an auxiliary police officer in the New York City Police Department, patrolling the 26th precinct of Manhattan and West Harlem. He served as Montana’s youngest delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2008.
If elected, Graybill would not be the first attorney general from Great Falls.
Mike Greeley of Great Falls, who left office a month before Graybill was born, served as attorney general from 1977 to January 1989. His predecessor, Robert Woodahl, who served from 1969 to 1977, also had roots in Great Falls.