Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s lawsuit against discount retail giant Dollar General for deceptive pricing is encouraging news. Could Gov. Mike Parson’s appointee to the position — in other words, he’s unelected — finally understand his official duties?
He shouldn’t stop there.
In recent years, other big-box retailers such as Walmart and Kohl’s have been accused of deceptive pricing. Missouri consumers deserve protection against dishonest business practices.
Bailey’s investigation into gun safe maker Liberty Safe should be a non-starter, though. As the state’s chief legal officer, Bailey should know the inquiry could prove to be a waste of valuable resources — manpower and taxpayers’ dollars.
Missourians should expect their attorney general to focus on consumer and environmental protection and other issues relevant to them. Last we checked, fighting culture wars against President Joe Biden’s administration, private businesses — Target will have a word — or other statewide office holders was not in the job description.
Recently, we learned ardent supporters of the Second Amendment were hopping mad over Liberty Safe’s decision to cooperate with the FBI. Conservative pundits called for a boycott. The company should not have provided federal investigators with the password to the gun safe of an Arkansas man, they argued.
Never mind that federal authorities were investigating the man — Nathan Hughes, 34, — for his alleged role in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
In swoops Bailey, the latest Missouri attorney general using the office to raise his political profile. Republican U.S. Sens. Josh Hawley and Eric Schmitt preceded Bailey in the office. Neither was shy about spending public money on frivolous legal matters.
Get this: In a statement announcing the probe, Bailey criticized Liberty Safe for following a lawful order.
Legal FBI search of Arkansas Jan. 6 suspect
According to Bailey, “the FBI did not have a court order ordering Liberty Safe to provide the safe’s combination,” he said in a news release.
“That’s why my office is opening this investigation to ensure Liberty Safe is not deceiving its customers in its terms of service,” Bailey said.
Well, Attorney General, what was the company supposed to do? We get it. Thanks to former President Donald Trump and his supporters, today’s Republican Party is increasingly anti-government and anti-law enforcement.
But the FBI had a search warrant signed by a judge, according to Liberty Safe officials. Comply or face legal consequences. That’s how the law works.
Launching an investigation into a Utah-based company with no local ties seems performative.
This week, we asked Bailey’s office how many complaints from Missourians against Liberty Safe were on file. By publishing time, staffers hadn’t answered. Our guess? We suspect not one.
Under pressure from pro-gun types, Liberty Safe responded in kind. Unlike before, customers can now decline a password reset on their safes, a reasonable compromise in this situation. As a result, Bailey should stand down.
Attempt to overturn DeValkenaere conviction
Here, the attorney general’s office is supposed to represent the legal interests of Missouri and its residents. Let’s remember, Bailey was appointed. At best, his job performance so far is questionable.
Bailey actively tried to overturn former Kansas City police detective Eric DeValkenaere’s involuntary manslaughter conviction. He failed to defend the state’s interest during DeValkenaere’s appeal.
By law, “the attorney general must prosecute or defend all appeals to which the state is a party, including every felony criminal case which is appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court and courts of appeal,” a passage on the AG’s website reads.
We support legal action against Dollar General — protecting consumers from shady business practices is one of the AG’s main duties. Bailey’s office must root out problem businesses and protect us from environmental harm caused by rogue chemical companies.
Bailey’s time and resources would be best served going after fraudulent companies taking advantage of our state’s residents. A look into how tow service providers operate in Kansas City would be welcome here.
The less time Bailey spends chasing national headlines, the better off all Missourians would be.