Campbell: AG’s office eyes local focus, being ‘go-to source for residents’ issues

Attorney General Andrea Campbell says her office is thinking nationally but acting locally when it comes to setting priorities and protecting citizens in Massachusetts. In an interview with the Reporter on Monday, the Mattapan Democrat said she’s leaning in on her experience as a Boston city councillor, but also listening closely to residents across the Commonwealth to set an agenda for her office for the next three years.

This week, Campbell unveiled a detailed strategic plan that she says will “guide the work” of her office through 2027. Its top goal, she said, is to “advance economic opportunity and consumer justice for all,” with a specific focus on addressing discrimination in housing, labor, and financial services markets.”

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“What I heard loud and clear is folks want us to focus first on the local,” she said. “If I’m experiencing discrimination or hate or bias, gun violence, a mental health epidemic, or my kids being bullied, I want a government that is going to be responsive and do something about it,” Campbell said over iced coffee inside Flat Black coffee shop on Washington Street.

“I’m very proud of the plan,” she continued. “It articulates… not just our litigation tools, but our grant-making tool, our policy and government tool, our community engagement training tool, which most folks are unaware of. And then it talks about the values that we’re going to lead with, including equity and dignity, and in doing the work with a sense of empathy and compassion.”

Campbell told the Reporter that she’s eager to get her neighbors to see the AG’s office as a “go-to” source for complaints on a broad range of issues— from predatory utility providers and nefarious lending schemes to illicit drug trafficking and violence on city streets.

“I want the folks in Dorchester, Mattapan, Boston, and in Greater Boston, who read [The Reporter] to know that the AG’s office is here to help in almost anything they can think about,” she said. “Especially in the housing context. If they’re being discriminated against, if they are being targeted, even with robocalls or other things that will try to take money out of their pockets and harm them, call our office… We are putting money back into the pockets of residents who have been targeted or scammed. And we can’t be helpful if folks don’t reach out.”

Since her inauguration in January 2023, Campbell and her team have been engaged in an evaluation of the office— which she refers to as “the best public law firm… in the country”— with an eye toward how to deploy her legal team and investigators statewide. She has taken stock of the capacity and talents at four office locations in Boston, Springfield, New Bedford, and Worcester and leaned on guidance from her transition team, as well as from her own experiences on the campaign trail.

A few of the priority decisions are apparent in her deployment of special units within the office, including teams focused on gun violence prevention, reproductive rights, and maternal health that reflect that reality of the national shift triggered by Supreme Court decisions. Campbell says that even as she deploys her personnel to focus on street-level problems, she’s ever-mindful of the role that the Commonwealth should play in that national dialogue.

“We also have this obligation to lead nationally,” she said. “We have some of the most progressive laws, including our gun laws, reproductive justice laws, our consumer protection laws. So, we have an obligation to take this work nationally and to provide examples of how you can hold bad actors accountable. And we do that every day working with other AGs across the country, both Republican and Democrats, and to model what that looks like.”

One example she cites is a complaint that her office filed against NSC 131, a neo-Nazi group active in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

“We had the Republican AG from New Hampshire file a similar complaint after we did, because of the activity there, where they are targeting folks and patrolling neighborhoods to promote fear and hate, but to also interfere with our residents’ civil rights. This was just a great example of how we can do that work locally, but also nationally, provide a model of how you can take on hate and not just say it’s unacceptable, but in real time to use our litigation tools and other tools to go about trying to hold folks accountable.”

Enforcement on fair housing laws and other housing-related matters is a top priority for Campbell, who says she sees it as a necessity “from a public safety and public health standpoint.”

“It’s an effective tool to help families build wealth and to carry that wealth forward. It’s an effective tool to close the racial wealth gap… not only for an individual and a family to build wealth, but also for a community to become more stable going forward.

“We are using our tools to take on discrimination,” she said. “And that may mean folks that are not giving mortgages or loans to people of color or folks that are discriminating against renters because they have a governmental subsidy. We have a direct role to play in that, and we’re going to maximize those tools.”

Another priority Campbell wants constituents to know about is her office’s “elder justice unit,” which hopes to curb an uptick in scams targeting older people, whether they are vulnerable homeowners or living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

“This unit really will do the work in a more intersectional way and be a point of contact for an elder, or elder organizations, that may find it difficult to navigate government in trying to help this constituency,” she said.

Campbell – along with Mayor Wu – has been outspoken with specific warnings about predatory sales teams that go door-to-door in city neighborhoods seeking to trick homeowners and tenants into buying goods and services they don’t need— or at higher costs. That includes the electric utility market.

She has instructed her staff to “fight aggressively to make sure that companies or people that target our constituents and try to steal their money or steal their home or sell them a product like competitive electric supply, where they actually are getting losses and not realizing savings.”

About the third-party electricity vendors, she added: “This particular industry that is targeting residents largely in Mattapan and Dorchester and poorer communities in Boston, are targeting them to sell them a product that they know is not going bring them about any savings, where people are experiencing losses in the millions. And so, we’re using our constituent tools to try to get money back into the pockets of those residents.”

Her first-hand experience living in Mattapan and her years of service representing Dorchester and Mattapan on the council continue to be guiding forces for her policy direction across the state.

“My city council experience has been very useful and meaningful in addition to my legal experience, because it allows me to lead the team in such a way where we’re constantly reminding them and ourselves that we want to do this work from a bottom-up approach,” said Campbell. “That we want to engage community, we want them to inform what we do. We want to make sure that we’re delivering results that are responsive to their needs. That comes from the basic constituent service work I did as a district councillor.

“Also, this focus on equity and focusing on folks that feel left out and left behind? That is indicative of what residents in Dorchester and Mattapan, and even parts of Roslindale and Jamaica Plain that I represented on the council [indicated]. They felt left out and left behind in many conversations. And we want to ensure that folks are not only at the table, but that they’re seen and heard, but that we’re delivering substantive results for them.”

The Attorney General says residents who think they may have been a victim of discrimination or another crime or scam should contact her office at 617-727-8400 or go to