Announcements, information and updates from CWAG Members and Associates
We are proud to announce Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes will serve as the 2017-2018 Alliance Partnership Chair, with Generals Karl Racine and Lawrence Wasden serving as co-chairs this year. We thank these three for their leadership and commitment to expanding CWAG's International footprint while providing rule of law support to their counterparts all across the world.
In 2008, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden started a journey that the AGs never could have imagined to be so successful. General Wasden went to Mexico, met with his counterpart state Attorneys General, learned about their struggles, and vowed to commit to a change. The CWAG Alliance Partnership was born. General Wasden's leadership over the past 10 years has enabled him to lead dozens of delegations of attorneys general to collaborate with their partners in Mexico, El Salvador and Cuba. International collaborations are continuously resulting in tangible results to keep our citizens safe in the midst of the international crisis that is transnational organized crime.
General Wasden's leadership has inspired Attorneys General from across the country to become partners in the Alliance Partnership efforts. Most recently, Generals Karl Racine and Sean Reyes have taken a similar leadership role in launching the CWAG Africa Alliance Partnership, where, in the short time that the program has been in existence, they have personally traveled to instruct law students and law enforcement in Africa, and helped to launch this new chapter of CWAG's international efforts.
The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) debuted their newly developed Online Wellness Library, the Supplement OWL™, to the Attorneys General and their staff at the CWAG Annual Meeting in San Francisco. This self-initiated project is one undertaken by the Council, but is intended for use by the entire industry. The premise for the project is simple: regulators should know what ingredients and products are in the dietary supplement marketplace and who sells them. Any dietary supplement product being sold in the U.S. is eligible for inclusion in the Supplement OWL. It provides an image of the product, a complete product label along with separate fields of information on ingredients, dosage form, serving size, categories of use, product claims, contacts and other information. Participation is free to all industry members and is open to all supplement companies. Council member companies were at the meeting to show interested attendees how OWL serves as a resource to identify products, their ingredients, product label information and claims, and the companies making and marketing these products. Consumers as well as AGO staff can try the database themselves at
The essay titled "Broken Trust", was published 20 years ago by the Honolulu Star Bulletin, reported widespread corruption involving Bishop Estate, the largest private property owner in the State of Hawaii, and led to the formation of a charities regulation group in the Hawaii Department of the Attorney General that exists to this day. CWAG Attorney General Doug Chin of Hawaii said: "Under former Governor Ben Cayetano, Hawaii Attorney General Margery Bronster began legal proceedings to remove the culpable trustees. We appreciate their example. For 20 years, the Department of the Attorney General has maintained strict oversight over organizations that solicit charitable contributions in Hawaii. Our office is nationally recognized for its pioneering oversight program." CWAG established the Profiles in Courage Award to honor former Attorney General Bronster for her work on this matter and to recognize her courage in fighting powerful forces to bring about the needed changes.
CWAG Associate Attorney General Jim Hood of Mississippi announced that the State of Mississippi has settled its claims with Global Tel*Link Corporation for $2,500,000.00. "I am pleased with Global Tel*Link for cooperating and quickly resolving this matter with the State's taxpayers," said Attorney General Hood. "As a company that continues to contract with the State, Global Tel*Link quickly approached our office seeking settlement after the Epps scandal. Due to their cooperation, we have now resolved this matter." This settlement ends the second of 11 civil actions the Attorney General filed on February 8, 2017, accusing 10 individuals and 12 out-of-state corporations of using alleged "consultants" as conduits to pay bribes and kickbacks to then-Commissioner Epps for the awarding and retention of MDOC contracts-all while defrauding the State through a pattern of misrepresentation, fraud, concealment, money laundering and other wrongful conduct, arising from the Epps Bribery Scandal. To date, the Attorney General has recovered $4,500,000.00 on behalf of Mississippi taxpayers related to the MDOC Prison Bribery Scandal.
After at least six states declared the opioid epidemic an emergency in their states as opioid deaths continue to rise, President Donald Trump declared it a "national emergency." The President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis recommends that the disaster be declared through either the Stafford Act or the Public Health Service Act. The Stafford Act is usually initiated for natural disasters, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, and normally requires a request from a governor. It would trigger the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to dole out financial and technical assistance to states and cities. The Public Health Service Act, on the other hand, allows the secretary of health and human services -- not the president -- to declare a public health emergency and deploy medical staff to areas in need. This was used for the outbreak of the Zika virus and the H1N1 virus, for example. In response to President Trump's announcement, CWAG Associate Attorney General Schimel of Wisconsin released the following statement. "President Trump's announcement today signals his commitment to carry out the Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis' recommendations and partner with the States to fight prescription drug and heroin abuse. Luckily, in Wisconsin, thanks to the leadership of Rep. Nygren and Governor Walker, we have already made great strides and implemented many of the federal Commission's recommendations, such as a standing order for naloxone. I look forward to learning more about the President's initiatives and working with the Administration to save lives and continue making Wisconsin safer and stronger."
The twelve year-long court proceedings that have delayed construction of the Northwest Area Water Supply project may finally be at an end, announced CWAG Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem of North Dakota. The District Court in Washington, DC concluded that the Environmental Impact Statement for the NAWS project met the requirements of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). The NAWS project will bring much-needed water from the Missouri River to Minot and surrounding counties in northwest North Dakota. The State Water Commission and Bureau of Reclamation began construction on the NAWS project in early 2002. Soon after, the Province of Manitoba sued under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), and the project has been entangled in litigation since then. In addition, the State of Missouri joined the litigation against North Dakota in 2009. The court also dismissed the State of Missouri's claims and lifted all the injunctions that have hampered the project. "This is a significant victory for the citizens of North Dakota," said Attorney General Stenehjem. "Although the opinion is subject to appeal, this is a giant step forward in resolving the legal issues that have delayed the completion of the NAWS project for over a decade."
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reportedly has said Denver "will probably" become the headquarters for the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Reclamation as part of an ambitious reorganization effort slated to get underway in fiscal 2019. Secretary Zinke provided an overview of his reorganization plans to the senior executives during a July 21 lunch, USGS spokesman Dave Ozman confirmed. It included discussion of the secretary's desire to shift more department resources and personnel from Washington to field offices across the country and empower front-line employees with more decision making authority. The notes indicated that Secretary Zinke believes Interior is too top-heavy with managers. He told senior executives during the Denver meeting that shrinking the workforce would be achieved without layoffs, something he has said publicly before.
The Washington Attorney General's Office (AGO) announced that it filed a complaint in Thurston County Superior Court alleging campaign finance violations by the Pierce County Democratic Central Committee. Specifically, the AGO asserts the committee failed to timely report a total of $63,643 in contributions, $90,357.95 in expenditures, and $34,791 in debts over a three-year period. CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson recused himself from any involvement in the matter. In May, the AGO received a Citizen Action Notice alleging multiple violations of the state's public disclosure laws by the Pierce County Democratic Central Committee. After receiving the notice, AGO staff determined the committee failed to timely file numerous reports of contributions received and expenditures made between 2015 and 2017. Washington law requires political committees to regularly report information to the state Public Disclosure Commission about sources of contributions, starting with those over $25. Political committees must also regularly report information about their activities, including expenditures, debts and obligations.
Before the Dakota Access pipeline came online this spring, trains were still carrying a significant amount of oil, about 25 percent, from North Dakota. But in just the line's first month, that number dropped way off, down to just 7 percent. This single pipeline will soon carry half the state's daily oil production, which isn't showing any sign of slowing down despite stagnant oil prices. The number of rigs drilling for oil in North Dakota has climbed to nearly 60 in recent months. North Dakota continues to produce over 1 million barrels of oil per day, state mineral resources director Lynn Helms said at a recent press briefing on oil and gas production numbers. That pipeline still has one final legal hurdle to clear. A judge could decide to shut the line down while the federal government revisits parts of its environmental analysis done during the permitting process.
Halfway through 2017, Colorado's marijuana retailers amassed more than $750 million in sales, according to The Cannabist's extrapolations of the latest tax data released by the state. Covering both the medical and adult-use markets, the sales of flower, edibles and concentrates through June 2017 are up 25.7 percent compared with the first half of 2016. The cumulative sales made through June equate to nearly $116 million in tax revenue and license fees for the state. The Colorado Department of Revenue published the report for marijuana sales and excise taxes remitted in July.
Barring any major variance in returns, June appears to have been a near-record month for Colorado's marijuana shops, with $131.65 million in total sales. That would trail the high of $131.69 million set earlier this year in March, but extends the streak of $100 million monthly sales to 13 months.
Chris Coppin | Legal Director
Conference of Western Attorneys General