Announcements, information and updates from CWAG Members and Associates
The CWAG 2017 Winter Dinner is scheduled for Tuesday, November 28th, 2017  in Jekyll Island, Georgia at the Jekyll Island Club Resort. Registration is now open.  If you have not received an email link inviting you to register via our new meeting portal, please contact meeting manager  Alejandra StephensThe Winter Dinner registration closes on Monday, November 20th.
Former CWAG Attorney General Patricia Madrid of New Mexico was honored at the 2017 MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) Los Angeles Gala.  She was awarded the Valerie Kantor Award for Extraordinary Achievement. The annual event brings together individuals, corporations, and law firms dedicated to advancing Latino causes and civil rights in the United States. Patricia Madrid was a former national board chair of MALDEF in 2009. She gained national recognition when she became the first woman to be elected Attorney General of her native New Mexico, serving from 1999 to 2007, and the first Latina elected Attorney General in the Country.  Earlier in her career, she was the first woman to win election as a district court judge in New Mexico. 
CWAG Attorney General Xavier Becerra of California urged the U.S. Senate to pass The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 following unanimous approval to move forward with the legislation by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. In September, Attorney General Becerra testified before Congress in support of the legislation, which would amend the Communications Decency Act of 1996 and make clear the authority of state and local law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute companies that profit from sex trafficking and crimes against children. "This bill is about protecting the most vulnerable in a new era of sex trafficking. We can't deny that the internet plays a significant role in sex trafficking and has created virtual brothels where victims are bought and sold online," said Attorney General Becerra. "Let's give state and local law enforcement the clear authority to protect victims of trafficking from those who promote, facilitate and benefit from sex trafficking online."
Kansas is one of eight states to receive an "A" ranking from an international human trafficking victim advocacy group, CWAG Associate Attorney General Derek Schmidt of Kansas stated. Shared Hope International, a victim advocacy group that seeks to end sex trafficking and exploitation of women and children worldwide, issues annual report cards for states through its Protected Innocence Challenge. The "grade" Kansas received from Shared Hope International for its efforts to combat human trafficking has improved to an "A" this year, with Kansas receiving 92 out of a possible 100 points for 2017. "We are taking a comprehensive approach to address what is a complex crime," said Attorney General Schmidt. "The result of these efforts has been more-effective prosecution, additional training and better support for victims. One key is raising awareness of the driving force behind sex trafficking - the demand for commercial sex, most often with children. Buyers who create this demand must be held accountable for their enabling role. We will continue to work with the Legislature and other partners across the state to make a positive difference for victims in Kansas."  
CWAG Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt of Nevada celebrates two years of serving Nevada's military service members and veterans through his Office of Military Legal Assistance @EASE Program. Two years ago, the program was officially launched around the State as the nation's first attorney general-led, public-private partnership offering our military communities access to pro bono civil legal services. Since then, the program has gone on to serve more than two thousand military service members and veterans through its pro bono legal affiliates and volunteer attorneys. "Veterans Day is a time to honor those who have honored our country with their selfless service and fierce sense of duty," said Attorney General Laxalt. "As a veteran of the Iraq war, the Office of Military Legal Assistance @EASE Program is my way of ensuring that our service members and their families are shown the gratitude and statewide commitment they are owed for their service to our State and country. With more than 150 Nevada attorneys assisting in this effort, we are proud to have served over 2,300 veterans in the past two years, and I am thrilled to announce our latest partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to bring free legal clinics to the VA Medical Centers in Nevada beginning in 2018. Today and every day, I hope you will join me in expressing our deepest appreciation for the humility and love of country our veterans have demonstrated." 
CWAG Associate Attorney General Maura Healey of Massachusetts announced a new position within her office to assist Massachusetts veterans, servicemembers and their families. In addition, Attorney General Healey has highlighted the enhanced efforts across the office to provide services to veterans in need. As the Veterans Affairs Coordinator for the Attorney General's Office, David Bolcome is the office's point of contact for issues and initiatives within the Massachusetts veterans community. Bolcome, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and a Senior Investigator in the Civil Investigations Division, is focused on increasing communication between the Office and the veteran and servicemember community in the state. "Our veterans and servicemembers served and protected our country and we will do everything we can to support and honor them," said Attorney General Healey. "Our office is committed to ensuring that veterans, servicemembers and military families can access the protections and benefits owed to them."
CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington said a state appeals court unanimously ruled in favor of his campaign finance lawsuit against the Freedom Foundation, overturning the trial court's decision to dismiss the case. The court sent the case back to the lower court for further proceedings. "This ruling is a victory for transparency in our democracy," Attorney General Ferguson said. "Voters have a right to know who is influencing their elections, and I am committed to enforcing the campaign finance laws that protect that right." The court stated: "As the State points out, adopting the Foundation's position would create a large loophole in the [Fair Campaign Practices Act's] reporting requirements. The public would be precluded from receiving information regarding the financing of local initiatives at the most critical time - when signatures in support of the initiatives are being collected. On the other hand, the State's position is consistent with the primary purpose of the FCPA - to fully disclose to the public political campaign contributions and expenditures."
CWAG Attorney General Mark Brnovich of Arizona announced a serial litigant organization will soon be permanently barred from filing frivolous disability lawsuits against Arizona businesses. The settlement comes after Judge David M. Talamante dismissed more than 1,000 lawsuits filed by Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities ("AID"). "Today's settlement is a victory for Arizona consumers and small businesses," said Attorney General Brnovich. "Arizona is not going to tolerate serial litigants who try to shake down small hardworking businesses by exploiting the disability community." AID 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.
CWAG Associate Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas filed more price gouging lawsuits against businesses accused of taking advantage of Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey. In these cases, consumers were allegedly charged excessive prices for gasoline. "Price gouging by unscrupulous profiteers is something that no Texan should have been confronted with during a declared disaster like Hurricane Harvey," Attorney General Paxton said. "Price gouging is illegal, unconscionable and completely opposite the spirt of cooperation we saw just about everywhere else in our state before, during and after the hurricane. My office will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute more cases arising from Harvey." After a state disaster has been declared, as Governor Greg Abbott did on August 23, Texas law prohibits selling necessities such as drinking water, food, medicine, and fuel at an exorbitant or excessive price. 
CWAG Chair Attorney General Mark Brnovich of Arizona  was a featured speaker at the UCLA Center for Middle East Development  (CMED) 12th Annual Conference, Enriching the Middle East's Economic Future, in Doha, Qatar, on November 12-13, 2017. The annual conference, held under the auspices of the Foreign Ministry of the State of Qatar, is an internationally recognized forum for government officials, active business and financial practitioners, and politicians and academics dealing with current economic, financial, political, and diplomatic issues. Experts bring their perspectives to pressing global policy issues, while simultaneously conducting private business and interchange.

General Brnovich, CWAG Executive Director Karen White, and Arizona AGO Senior Counsel Joe Sciarrotta participated in a panel discussion "The Role of Attorneys General in America: Making the System Work," moderated by former CWAG Associate Attorney General Patrick Lynch, discussing federalism and the rule of law.

Chris Coppin | Legal Director
Conference of Western Attorneys General