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Interview with Thurbert Baker, December 8, 2008

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:17 - Early life and education

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Partial Transcript: Our guest is Thurbert Baker..

Segment Synopsis: Baker talks about his family, growing up in rural North Carolina, and attending an integrated high school during his junior and senior years. He recalls acting as a mediator between white and black students, and his goal of attending the University North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Keywords: Rocky Mountain, NC; childhood; education; integration

00:09:02 - College years

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Partial Transcript: Now, understand this. Coming from a small town of about 15 or 20,000 people...

Segment Synopsis: Baker talks about majoring in political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, deciding to pursue law school, and joining the fencing team because of a lucky incident.

Keywords: athletics; fencing; law school; political science

00:16:21 - Emory Law school / Law career

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Partial Transcript: Then you went on to law school.

Segment Synopsis: Baker talks about deciding to study at Emory Law School, working to pay for school, completing a real estate law project during his schooling, and passing the bar exam. He discusses working as a trial lawyer at the Fulton County Public Defender's office, and then practicing environmental law for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Keywords: Bar exam; Emory Law School; Environmental Protection Agency; Public Defender's office; internship; real estate law

00:28:25 - Politics and public office

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Partial Transcript: Somewhere during that time you decided to run for public office.

Segment Synopsis: Baker discusses his personal ethics, and talks about his decision to run for the Georgia General Assembly at the suggestion of a friend. He talks about his campaign and the runoff election. He also comments on being selected by Governor Zell Miller to be House Floor leader.

Keywords: Georgia General Assembly; Zell Miller; campaigning; floor leader; public office; runoff

00:37:23 - Lottery-funded HOPE Scholarship

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk for a minute about some of the those programs.

Segment Synopsis: Baker talks about working to pass the HOPE Scholarship program created by Governor Miller. He talks about the opposition to the program and the strategy he employed as floor leader to get it to pass.

Keywords: HOPE Scholarship; higher education; legislation; lottery

00:45:13 - Attorney General

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Partial Transcript: In 1997 when Attorney General Mike Bowers resigned...

Segment Synopsis: Baker talks about being appointed by Gov. Miller as Attorney General, his effort to get elected, and his agenda during his time in office, including increasing transparency in government and strengthening the laws.

Keywords: campaign; government transparency

00:53:26 - Legal issues in modern age

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Partial Transcript: What do you see as issues in your office in the coming years?

Segment Synopsis: Baker talks about tackling issues of identity theft and online predators through the creation of new statutes. He also talks about the effects of the 2007-2008 real estate crisis, including equity scamming and foreclosures. Baker also reflects on maintaining patience and focus in his work.

Keywords: career; foreclosure; identity theft; online predator; real estate crisis

01:01:22 - Organization of Attorney General department

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Partial Transcript: Mr. Attorney, since you are elected by the people...

Segment Synopsis: Baker discusses how the Attorney General's accountability is to the people of the state rather than directly to the governor. He talks about the organization of his department into five working groups, remembers trying difficult cases, and describes the nature of party politics in Georgia. He also mentions the power of the Attorney General to issue opinions to the state government.

Keywords: 1996 Olympic Games; constitutional officer; open government; open records; party politics

01:12:30 - Reflection on family and career

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk a minute now about Thurbert Baker.

Segment Synopsis: Baker talks about his wife, his two daughters, and how he would like to be remembered.

Keywords: family; legacy; wife