In conjunction with the Conference of Western Attorneys-General, Githu Muigai, Attorney General of the Republic of Kenya, hosted one-day seminar in Nairobi on April 12, 2017, featuring CWAG Associate Attorneys General Karl Racine of the District of Columbia and Lisa Madigan of Illinois. The seminar invited Kenyan national and local law enforcement to deliberate on the fight against human trafficking, smuggling and international organized crimes. Trafficking in persons remains the fastest growing crime in the world, affecting more than 20 million Kenyans.
Attorneys General Madigan and Racine, shared their experiences, challenges, and best practice with Kenya. Attorney General Madigan said trafficking of young girls for sexual exploitation internationally tops all forms of transnational crimes and generates more money than drug trafficking. The forum also addressed aims to improve cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of these heinous crimes and to build a network of practitioners to enhance the fight against the crimes.
CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington
announced that the Washington State Legislature established an important protection for victims of human trafficking. With overwhelming bipartisan support, the House of Representatives passed an agency request bill from Attorney General Ferguson establishing a specific human trafficking criminal no-contact order, which courts and law enforcement will use to safeguard victims from their traffickers. "Survivors of human trafficking are often harassed and threatened by their former traffickers after they come forward to law enforcement," Attorney General Ferguson said. "This legislation provides an important legal tool to safeguard these survivors." Because Washington state law does not characterize human trafficking and promoting prostitution as sex offenses, the only criminal no-contact order currently available to the court to protect victims of these crimes is a domestic violence no-contact order. This protection order is limited applying only when the victim lives or has lived with the trafficker.
CWAG Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum of Oregon
announced that the Oregon Senate unanimously passed the Attorney General's public record reform legislation, Senate Bill 481. The bill will soon move to the House for a full vote. Under SB 481, public bodies will be required to acknowledge receipt of public records requests within five business days, and they will have no more than 10 business days from acknowledgment to either to fully respond to the request or to provide a written statement explaining when the request will be fulfilled. As a resource for the public, the Attorney General's office will also be tasked with cataloguing all 500-plus public record exemptions spread throughout the Oregon statutes. Several other related bills are still working their way through the legislative process. One, SB 106, would create a public records advocate to educate and facilitate resolutions of requests. Another, HB 2101, would create a new committee to focus on addressing exemptions and would require transparency impact statements. Attorney General Rosenblum stated: "During more than a year of Task Force meetings and listening sessions with journalists, advocates, and the public-we heard loud and clear that our public records laws are in need of reform. This bill addresses the issue of lack of timely access to records and begins to address the confusion created by forty years of piecemeal exemptions to laws originally intended to promote transparency."
CWAG Attorney General Mark Brnovich of Arizona
announced his office obtained a full refund for every Arizonan who purchased a Theranos blood test. Theranos, Inc. agreed to pay $4.65 million dollars in consumer restitution as part of a consent judgment reached with the Arizona Attorney General's Office. Between 2013 and 2016, Theranos sold approximately 1.5 million blood tests to more than 175,000 Arizonans. According to Theranos, 10 percent of the tests were voided or corrected. Each customer will now be reimbursed the full amount the customer paid for testing regardless of whether the results were voided or corrected. "Everyone who paid for a test will receive a full refund, period," said Attorney General Brnovich. "This is a great result and a clear message that Arizona's consumer protection laws will be vigorously enforced."
CWAG Attorney General Xavier Becerra of California
filed a civil lawsuit seeking to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars from two California charities claiming to support veterans. The lawsuit alleges that the operators of Wounded Warriors Support Group (WWSG) and Central Coast Equine Rescue and Retirement (CCERR) run raffles purportedly to support veterans, but instead spend the donated proceeds for personal use, including shopping at Victoria's Secret, paying off personal credit card debt, and traveling, dining, traffic school, dressage equipment, and other personal expenses. "Veterans and their families sacrifice immensely for our country. There is no place for sham charities that claim to support our veterans when in reality they're lining their own pockets," said Attorney General Becerra. "It's a breach of the public trust to deceive and exploit the goodwill of generous Americans. It's worse when you do so at the expense of our veterans. I will vigorously investigate and prosecute any charity falsely claiming to help our veterans."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Karl A. Racine of the District of Columbia
announced that he has settled a lawsuit against Unlimited Technology and Solution Corporation (UTS) and its owner, Mardoqueo M. Sanchez, for engaging in unlawful immigrant-consultant services. The $250,000 settlement in this so-called notario fraud case will provide restitution to consumers in immigrant communities, as well as civil penalties to the District. "This kind of notario fraud tends to go unreported because immigrants in the District of Columbia may be afraid to come forward, especially in the current political climate," said Attorney General Racine. "I want all D.C. residents, including undocumented immigrants, to know that OAG is here to protect all consumers, and we will bring to justice anyone who unlawfully targets immigrants or any other District resident."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Leslie Rutledge of Arkansas
filed a consumer-protection lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court against Florida-based U.S. Business Services LLC for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. U.S. Business Services solicits business in Arkansas via direct mailings and offers to prepare and provide, for a $150 fee, corporate consent records in lieu of meeting minutes that fulfill the requirements of Arkansas law. However, U.S. Business Services selectively quotes portions of Arkansas law to convey only those portions that would legitimize the solicitation, and the mailed documents are specifically designed to give the average consumer the impression that it is official in nature and required by a government entity.
"Using what looks like an official government tax notice or notification, U.S. Business Services has managed to convince many unsuspecting Arkansas business owners that they are failing to follow the law and that, for a fee, the company can help," said Attorney General Rutledge. "These unlawful actions and misrepresentations by this Florida company are wrong and must be stopped before more are harmed."
DRUG TAKE BACK PROGRAM
CWAG Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman of Colorado
, Mayor Heidi Williams (Thornton), Mayor Ron Rakowsky (Greenwood Village), Mayor Joyce Jay (Wheat Ridge), and Mayor Pro-Tem Angela Lawson (Aurora) joined together to support the launch of Walgreens' permanent prescription medication disposal sites, which are now located across the Denver Metro area. Walgreens medication disposal kiosks are free to use, and will help to ensure Coloradans can safely and easily dispose of medications that are no longer needed. Properly disposing of unused, unwanted or expired medications, including controlled substances and over-the-counter medications, can help to prevent misuse of those drugs and lower the risk of abuse by a friend or family member. "We want it to be as effortless as possible for people to get unused medications out of their medicine cabinets and to a safe location for proper disposal," said Attorney General Coffman. "We know prescription drug abuse can have devastating consequences, which is why I am particularly excited that many Coloradans will be able to return their surplus medications to their local Walgreens."
CWAG Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt of Nevada
is seeking to intervene in a legal filing that aims to restart licensing at the Yucca Mountain proposed nuclear waste site. Mari St. Martin, spokeswoman for Gov. Brian Sandoval, said the Agency for Nuclear Projects, "in cooperation with Attorney General Adam Laxalt," filed a motion with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The motion would include Nevada as a party in the petition filed by the state of Texas to restart licensing for the project. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission would have to finish licensing proceedings for the Yucca nuclear waste repository in 12 months or less if Texas's petition were granted. "Texas's Petition directly injures Nevada as the target state of the proposed Yucca Mountain repository," the filing states. "Nevada has a vital interest in the subject of this Petition and will be directly and materially affected by the outcome."