ATTORNEY GENERAL OFFICE NEWS
CWAG Attorney General Kamala D. Harris of California
stepped down as California Attorney General and was sworn in to the United States Senate in Washington, D.C. Before resigning, Attorney General Harris named Kathleen "Kate" Alice Kenealy Chief Deputy Attorney General. Ms. Kenealy will lead the California Department of Justice as Acting Attorney General until such time as Governor Brown's selected candidate, Congressman Xavier Becerra (D-LA), is confirmed by the state legislature as California's next Attorney General. Acting Attorney General Kenealy joined the Office of the Attorney General in August 2003 as a Deputy Attorney General in the Natural Resources Law Section. She became the section's Senior Assistant Attorney General in September 2010. For more than five years, Acting Attorney General Kenealy has served as the Chief Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Law Division. In that capacity, she has led the office's representation of state officials, state employees, and more than 200 state agencies. The Civil Division provides advice to its client agencies, defends cases brought against them, and prosecutes cases to vindicate state interests.
In observance of National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, CWAG Attorney General Tim Fox of Montana invites Montanans to view the "Faces of Freedom: Voices Calling for the End of Modern Day Slavery" traveling portrait exhibit when it comes to the state on January 11. Faces of Freedom raises awareness about the realities and effects of human trafficking and other forms of violent oppression in the world today. The exhibit celebrates human trafficking survivors and presents opportunities to engage people in learning more about this form of modern day slavery. "Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that occurs all over the world, including here in Montana," said Attorney General Tim Fox. "No matter where this crime happens, the common denominator is that its victims have lost their freedom. My office is pleased to partner with Soroptimists International - Whitefish and the Freedom 58 Project to bring these powerful portraits of human trafficking survivors to Montana. We invite the public to see these beautiful paintings and reflect on the real-life journeys of their subjects as they move from oppression to rescue, and ultimately, to justice and freedom."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Pam Bondi of Florida
announced the arrest of an Ocala man on charges related to human trafficking. Ryan Gemelle Poole faces one count of human trafficking, one count of deriving support from proceeds of prostitution and one count of using a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony. The five-month long investigation revealed that Poole allegedly exploited a female victim to include taking control of all of her money, selling her and forcing her to participate in numerous acts of prostitution. Attorney General Bondi's Office of Statewide Prosecution is the prosecuting authority for the charges in this case. "Human trafficking is an abhorrent crime and the allegations in this case are sickening-further proving that we must do everything in our power to eliminate human trafficking in Florida," said Attorney General Bondi. "Working with our great law enforcement partners like Marion County Sheriff Emery Gainey and the Marion County Sheriff's Office, the subject of this investigation was arrested and justice will be served."
PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT
CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington
filed five felony charges in Chelan County Superior Court against a Cashmere man and his asbestos abatement business. Timothy Powell and his business, A1 Asbestos LLC, are accused of providing false asbestos waste shipment records to an Okanogan County landfill, including forging signatures on one of the documents. Powell and A1 Asbestos are also accused of offering false statements to the state Department of Labor & Industries about the start dates of asbestos abatement work in an attempt to avoid worksite safety inspections. "Strict rules governing the disposal of asbestos waste exist to protect workers and the public, and they must be followed," Attorney General Ferguson said. Attorney General Ferguson has made prosecuting environmental crimes a priority of his administration. Since 2013, he has brought environmental prosecutions leading to 19 criminal convictions, and restitution orders in excess of $900,000.
The federal government offered five possible plans recently for limiting mining on federal land in the West to protect the vulnerable greater sage grouse, but it isn't saying which it prefers. In Wyoming, the rules would affect sage grouse habitat on federal lands north of Rock Springs, as well as a patch of land on the borders with Idaho and Utah, south of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The options range from banning new mining activity on about 15,000 square miles for up to 20 years to imposing no additional restrictions on mine locations. Under all the options, mining and exploration projects already approved or underway could proceed. Energy companies could still extract oil and gas from any restricted lands, but they would have to use directional drilling from some distance away to avoid disturbing the surface. After years spent creating plans to mitigate drilling and mining of energy resources in sage grouse habitats, some are unsure of the need to further remove swaths of land from potential future development. Wyoming has been the vanguard in a collaboration of government and private interests, from ranchers and oil firms to environmentalists and outdoorsmen, to negotiate a balance between industry and sage grouse conservation.
In perhaps the final major act of conservation of his administration, President Barack Obama designated 1.35 million acres in southeast Utah and 300,000 acres in Nevada as two new national monuments. The Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, named for twin buttes that poke above the horizon, will protect a diverse southwestern landscape that the novelist Wallace Stegner wrote could "fill up the eye and overflow the soul." It includes soaring red-rock formations, piñon-juniper mesas, 12,000-foot-high mountain peaks, and secluded sandstone canyons that harbor well-preserved prehistoric dwellings and rock-art panels, more than 100,000 Native American cultural and archaeological sites in all. It's among the most significant archaeological areas in the United States. The 300,000-acre Gold Butte National Monument, which lies between Lake Mead and the Grand Canyon, is also home to significant cultural resources, such as Native American petroglyphs, historic mining sites, and pioneer-era artifacts.
A code associated with a broad Russian hacking campaign dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the federal government has been detected on a laptop associated with a Vermont electric utility but not connected to the grid, the utility said. "We took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alerted federal officials of this finding," the Burlington Electric Department said in a statement. "Our team is working with federal officials to trace this malware and prevent any other attempts to infiltrate utility systems. We have briefed state officials and will support the investigation fully." The Department of Homeland Security alerted utilities about a malware code used in Grizzly Steppe, the Burlington Electric Department said. "We acted quickly to scan all computers in our system for the malware signature. We detected the malware in a single Burlington Electric Department laptop not connected to our organization's grid systems," it said.