ATTORNEY GENERAL NEWS
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin appointed Secretary of State Mike Hunter as Oklahoma Attorney General after Scott Pruitt was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. "Mike understands the law and has a thorough understanding of state government, which will serve him and the state well," Governor Fallin said. "Mike also understands the importance of public service and he will be a tremendous advocate to protect the basic legal rights for Oklahomans." Attorney General Hunter served as first assistant attorney general under Scott Pruitt from June 2015 to October, when Governor Fallin named him secretary of state. Hunter was the chief operating officer of the American Bankers Association from 2010 to 2015 and was secretary of the Commissioners of the Land Office. "I appreciate the confidence placed in me by Governor Fallin," Attorney General Hunter said. "I enjoyed working in her administration, and look forward to continuing to assist whenever possible to improve our state."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Brad Schimel of Wisconsin
announced the additions of Daniel Lennington, Lane Ruhland, and Mike Austin to the Wisconsin Department of Justice senior leadership team. Lennington has been named Senior Counsel, a position vacated by Paul Connell, when Connell was named Deputy Attorney General. Ruhland will serve as Director of Government Affairs, replacing Austin, who has been selected by Attorney General Schimel to serve as Policy Advisor. "I am excited to put this team to work for the citizens of our great state," said Attorney General Schimel. "Dan, Lane, and Mike share our vision for public safety and respect for the rule of law, and I know they will advocate tirelessly to make Wisconsin safer and stronger."
Centene Corp. has hired former Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster as the managed care company's senior vice president, corporate services. Mr. Koster "will assist in business-related issues, outside of government relations, for Centene's locally-based health plans across the country." Koster was attorney general for the past eight years before running unsuccessfully for governor in 2016. Prior to his role as attorney general, Koster was in the Missouri Senate for four years, and was prosecuting attorney in Cass County for a decade. "I am honored to join a team of individuals who every day work to provide high-quality healthcare to vulnerable populations across the United States," Mr. Koster said in a statement. "In many ways, this opportunity provides the continuation of the mission I have pursued for the past decade."
CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington
declared victory in State v. Trump, in light of the U.S. Department of Justice's filing in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Justice, on behalf of President Trump, represented to the court that: "the President intends in the near future to rescind the Order and replace it with a new, substantially revised Executive Order" to eliminate constitutional concerns. "Let's be clear: Today's court filing by the federal government recognizes the obvious, the President's current Executive Order violates the Constitution," Attorney General Ferguson said. In filings with the Ninth Circuit, both the federal government and the states of Washington and Minnesota urged the court to decline an "en banc" review of an earlier, unanimous ruling by a panel of three Ninth Circuit judges. In that decision, the court upheld U.S. District Court Senior Judge James L. Robart's injunction preventing enforcement of the Executive Order nationwide.
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of CWAG Attorney General Peter Michael and the State of Wyoming in finding that the Wind River Reservation had been diminished when the federal government opened the reservation to settlement in a series of acts over the past 100 years. The Court reversed a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency determination that, even though the land was sold, it remained legally part of the reservation. If the EPA decision had been upheld, large portions of Wyoming previously thought to be under state jurisdiction would be impacted. The EPA addressed the reservation boundary issue in approving an application from the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shohone tribes, which share the reservation, to be treated in a manner similar to states under the Clean Air Act.
CWAG Attorney General Sean Reyes of Utah
announced the guilty plea of Todd Jeremy Rettenberger to charges relating to human trafficking and related crimes. Rettenberger was sentenced to one to fifteen years in prison for second-degree felony human trafficking and zero to five years for third-degree felony exploitation of prostitution. The sentences will run concurrently. "The victims of this trafficker were girls, barely older than teens, forced into prostitution against their will and compelled to stay in "the life" by threats against their well-being and against their families. I am thrilled they will not have to endure a trial and be forced to relive the atrocities perpetrated upon them. It is imperative that we now keep these survivors safe, avoid revictimizing them, empower them with resources and do everything we can to help them heal and reclaim their lives," said Attorney General Reyes. "Importantly, this case demonstrates that human trafficking is real. It exists in Utah as it does across the nation and around the world. It takes many forms and can happen anywhere.
CWAG Attorney General Sean Reyes of Utah
is supporting a bill before the Utah legislature that would fight the trafficking of adopted children. The new law would implement safeguards to protect adopted children from "rehoming," the illegal practice of adoptive parents giving away their adopted children away to strangers without the usual home study or background checks performed to protect children. At the invitation of the US Department of State, the Utah Attorney General's Office joined national a committee two years ago tasked with addressing the illegal phenomenon and exploring model legislation for other states around the country. The bill, HB 199, was passed out of the House Judiciary Committee with a favorable recommendation. "Getting the bill out of committee is a positive step in the right direction," said Attorney General Reyes. "This bill isn't designed to be overly punitive towards adoptive parents. We know the vast majority of adoptive parents have only the most noble of intentions when bringing adopted children into their families. But the reality is that many adopted kids coming from overseas environments have been victims of terrible abuse in war-torn countries or experienced severe trauma from the horrors of torture, famine, abuse or other atrocities. Some adoptive parents who become overwhelmed by the cultural, emotional and psychological challenges of highly traumatized children, panic and end up desperate. In too many situations, parents have literally given away their children to strangers like they might with old furniture, beginning with an online communication or transaction."
CWAG Attorney General Mark Brnovich of Arizona
announced a judge dismissed more than 1,000 frivolous lawsuits filed by a serial litigator against Arizona small businesses. Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities flooded state courts with more than 1,700 lawsuits against Valley businesses in 2016. The copy-and-paste lawsuits alleged that businesses' parking lots did not comply with regulations related to persons with disabilities. Many of the issues were minor and easily fixable, but the lawsuits sought thousands of dollars in damages and attorneys' fees. "Arizona is not going to tolerate serial litigators who try to shake down small hardworking businesses by exploiting the disability community," said Attorney General Brnovich. "Today's ruling is a victory for the rule of law."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Pam Bondi of Florida
and the Federal Trade Commission announced the entry of the last consent judgment shutting down an illegal robocalling scheme used to sell Florida cruise line vacations. The unlawful telemarketing campaign flooded consumers from across the country with billions of unwanted robocalls, averaging 12 to 15 million illegal calls a day, and generated millions of dollars for the companies. The fifth and final consent judgment announced bars owner Fred Accuardi and his companies from assisting or participating in actions that violate telemarketing laws. In 2015, Attorney General Bondi, in partnership with the FTC and other state attorneys general, filed a lawsuit against Caribbean Cruise Line, Inc., a marketing company, as well as seven other companies, for alleged involvement in a scheme that used political survey robocalls to illegally sell cruise vacations. The joint complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The complaint alleged that the defendants' robocalls violated both Florida and federal law by unlawfully using political surveys as a pretext to place sales calls pitching Bahamas cruises and related vacation packages to individuals on do-not-call lists and other individuals they were prohibited from calling.