CWAG MEMBER NEWS
CWAG Associate Attorney General Leslie Rutledge of Arkansas
named Monty Baugh of Little Rock as deputy attorney general for the Civil Department and Renae Hudson of Sherwood as senior assistant attorney general joining Christine Cryer of Little Rock and Colin Jorgensen of Little Rock in that leadership role. "I am excited to welcome Monty Baugh as the deputy attorney general of the Civil Department," said Attorney General Rutledge. "Monty's impressive background will bring a fresh perspective to the office, and I know his skills as a litigator will enhance the abilities of the top-notch attorneys who are already doing exceptional work. I also want to congratulate Renae Hudson as she joins Christine Cryer and Colin Jorgensen as senior assistant attorneys general in the department. These three, along with Monty, make a tremendous leadership team with years of experience."
CWAG MEMBER INITIATIVES
CWAG Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Donovan Jr., of Vermont
announced the launch of a new community initiative to inform Vermont's youth about criminal justice and law enforcement careers, such as prosecution and advocacy on behalf of victims. Lawyers, law enforcement officers and advocates from the Attorney General's Office will be presenting information to Technical Center students around the State regarding the work of the Criminal Division in the Attorney General's Office. Vermont law enforcement agencies are consistently seeking to fill vacancies. The Technical Center programs provide a valuable service to Vermont and Vermonters in educating our youth in fields where there is a substantial need for new workers. Among the various programs offered by the Centers around the state are law enforcement programs. "Our goal is to let Vermont students know about career opportunities right here in Vermont. The criminal justice system has many opportunities and through this initiative we hope to connect students with potential careers." Attorney General Donovan stated.
CWAG Attorneys General Hector Balderas of New Mexico and Xavier Becerra of California
sued the federal government on over unpaid oil and gas royalties. They filed suit in U.S. District Court in California against the U.S. Department of the Interior for postponing implementation of a rule that updates how federal royalties on oil, gas and coal extraction is calculated. The rule took effect in January, but in February the Interior Department delayed it until a legal challenge by industry groups is resolved. The attorneys general say that decision is blocking payment of about $18 million in royalties owed to their states, including $4.9 million for New Mexico. The rule, approved through a five-year public process, closed loopholes, such as prohibiting coal companies from paying royalties on the value of inventory sold to sister companies rather than on the value of a final sale to end users. Last year, Interior estimated the rule would generate up to $85 million in new federal revenue annually.
FIGHTING PUBLIC CORRUPTION
CWAG Associate Attorney General Bill Schuette of Michigan
announced that he has secured the forfeiture of the state-paid portions of the pensions held by eight of the Detroit principals convicted last year of accepting federal program bribery in a $2.7-million kickback scheme that resulted in charges against former Detroit Public Schools vendor Norman Shy and 13 district officials. The state paid pension contributions were forfeit which means they will no longer be paid to the individuals, and those individuals that owe repayment, will experience a further reduction in their pensions until full re-payment has been made. "The future of our state depends on the education of the next generation. School leaders have an inherent duty to provide and protect our students, not steal from them," said Attorney General Schuette. Michigan law provides for the forfeiture of public employee retirement benefits paid by the State into the retirement fund if a member or retiree is convicted of or enters a guilty plea to a felony that is related to their service as a public employee. The confiscated funds cannot be used to pay restitution.
FIGHTING OPIOID ABUSE
CWAG Associate Attorney General Mike Hunter of Oklahoma
was joined by Sen. AJ Griffin and Rep. Tim Downing at a press conference to announce legislation to form the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse. The commission will be created by Senate Concurrent Resolution 12, authored by Sen. Griffin and Rep. Downing. According to the resolution, the nine-member committee is chaired by Attorney General Hunter and members will study, evaluate and make recommendations for changes to state policy, rules or statutes to better combat opioid abuse in Oklahoma. "Oklahoma is currently in the midst of an opioid abuse epidemic that is reaching a crisis level," Attorney General Hunter said. "Over the last three years there have been 2,684 reported opioid related deaths in the state. This commission will chart a path forward by looking at every avenue to save lives."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Maura Healey of Massachusetts
announced that school children in districts across the state will receive an unprecedented investment in evidence-based substance use prevention education under a new initiative to tackle a significant unmet need in the state's battle against the ongoing opioid crisis. In announcements across the state in the coming days with local leaders, educators, students and law enforcement partners, Attorney General Healey will distribute $700,000 in funding directly to school districts, nonprofits and community organizations to fund two years of prevention programming to 41 grantees in Massachusetts. "We will never get control of this epidemic until prevention becomes a priority," said Attorney General Healey. "With these grants, we will partner with schools and community organizations to empower young people and protect the next generation from falling victim to this public health crisis. But, these grants are only a start, we must continue to address this unmet need."
PROTECTING CIVIL RIGHTS
CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington
announced that he is accusing a Quincy agricultural company and one of its managers of violating Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Washington Law Against Discrimination over the sexual harassment of female workers, discriminatory hiring practices and retaliation against workers who reported the improper conduct. Attorney General Ferguson alleges that the operation and policies of the Grant County company, Horning Brothers LLC, allowed one of its foremen, Hermilo Cruz, to sexually harass and discriminate against female employees for several years. The complaint alleges that Horning Brothers knew or should have known about Cruz's conduct. The complaint accuses the company and Cruz of retaliating against employees who rejected Cruz's advances or complained about his conduct. Employees who reported the conduct were reprimanded, discharged or not rehired the following season. "Low-wage agricultural workers are part of a vulnerable population with limited resources. They deserve to be heard," Attorney General Ferguson said. "No woman should be forced to accept sexual harassment as a condition of her employment."
After raising vociferous objections to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's plans to offer a fintech charter, state regulators sued the federal agency, arguing it lacks the legal authority. "The OCC's action is an unprecedented, unlawful expansion of the chartering authority given to it by Congress for national banks," John Ryan, the president and CEO of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, said in a press release. "If the OCC is allowed to proceed with the creation of a special purpose nonbank charter, it will set a dangerous precedent that any federal agency can act beyond the legal limits of its authority." The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, lays out the state regulators' fundamental complaint that they've had from the beginning against the OCC's charter, namely that the agency does not have statutory authority to create a special-purpose charter. Citing the National Bank Act, the bank supervisor group argued that the OCC has the authority to charter only those firms engaged in the "business of banking." The agency would need "specific congressional approval" to create a charter for nondepository institutions, as the OCC plans to do, the group said.
FORMER CWAG MEMBER, SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS, DISCUSSES IMMIGRATION
"Local law enforcement is strapped," Senator Harris said, standing outside a Syrian restaurant. "They barely have enough resources to respond to the domestic violence call, the homicide call, the gang enforcement call. ... Now we're going to have an administration in Washington, D.C., that says local law enforcement must enforce immigration policy -- new immigration policy that says we're going to lower the bar in terms of who gets deported?" The senator, who had just met with the Los Angeles County sheriff and immigrant aid workers, told reporters she wanted to convey a message to all the "law-abiding" undocumented immigrants who are anxious and fearful under the new rules. My word to these families," she said, "is 'don't let anyone take your pride from you.'"