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 will open on Friday, September 22, 2017 . You will receive an email link inviting you to register via our new meeting portal.  
Teresa Jennings, Head of Rule of Law Development at LexisNexis Legal & Professional has been named one of 10 SDG Pioneers by the United Nations Global Compact. SDG Pioneers are individuals from around the world who champion sustainability through their companies and mobilize the broader business community to act in pursuit of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Teresa has been a strong supporter of CWAG's Rule of Law programs. "Each of the 2017 SDG Pioneers is exhibiting how companies and pioneering individuals can be a force for positive change in addressing the issues we all face today," said Lise Kingo, UN Global Compact CEO and Executive Director. "Ms. Jennings has been impactful in promoting peace, justice and strong institutions in the corporate world." Ms. Jennings supports the LexisNexis corporate mission to advance the rule of law around the world. In the U.S., she worked with the Uniform Law Commission on a Model Act for the prevention of and remedies for human trafficking. Upon the enactment of the Model Act, Ms. Jennings analyzed the underlying elements of existing anti-human trafficking laws across all states and compared them to the Model Act. She briefed 20 state Attorneys General on the protections available under their state's existing laws, and where each state's laws could be enhanced. Since that time, nine states have adopted the Model Act in full, and many more states have enhanced their anti-human trafficking laws generally.
CWAG Attorney General Xavier Becerra of California testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 (S. 1693). The legislation would help protect children and other vulnerable individuals from sex trafficking. The following is an excerpt from Attorney General Becerra's remarks as prepared for delivery: "As the Attorney General of California, our state's top law-enforcement officer, I have a unique role to play in combating the heinous crime of human trafficking. Today, I am here to explain why the Communications Decency Act needs to be clarified so that we can more effectively do our jobs in enforcing laws that protect children and help us eradicate this crime for good. Human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing criminal enterprises worldwide. All too often, criminals prey on women and children and profit from sex trafficking without fully facing the consequences of their crimes. California has more reported cases of human trafficking than any other state. As Attorney General, I am committed to doing everything in my power to prosecute traffickers and disrupt the criminal organizations that profit from the exploitation of human beings."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Brad Schimel of Wisconsin announced Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation Human Trafficking Bureau agents, with the aid of local and federal law enforcement, have arrested 25 individuals in stings to arrest sex traffickers, "johns," and child abusers. "The only reason human trafficking exists is because there is a demand for buying sex. Those creating the demand, the johns who buy victims and the pimps who are exploiting them, are not safe to exploit and coerce people in our state," said Attorney General Schimel. "When I was sworn in as attorney general, I put johns on notice. We are coming for you, and for some, we already got you. DOJ's Human Trafficking Bureau's arrests this summer will not be the last." In operations focused in northern and eastern Wisconsin, DCI agents arrested 25 individuals in operations that targeted those seeking children for sexual purposes and "johns," individuals who were soliciting prostitutes. Some of those arrested were knowingly seeking 14- and 15-year old children for sexual purposes.
CWAG Attorney General Marty Jackley of South Dakota announced the State of South Dakota is one step closer to bringing tax fairness to South Dakota retailers which would continue to sustain South Dakota's status as an income tax-free state.  The State Supreme Court agreed with Attorney General Jackley that, despite changing times, the Court was obligated to rule in favor of the defendants in State of South Dakota v. Wayfair, Overstock and Newegg. Significantly, the Court's swift decision recognizes that "as internet sales have risen, state revenues have decreased."  The Court further highlighted the need for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this issue, allowing states to require internet retailers to shoulder the same tax burden as in-state retailers do. "The retail landscape significantly changed with the inception of the internet and access to online shopping. Federal law currently shields out-of-state businesses from paying the same tax remitted by South Dakota businesses.  Today's decision paves the way to respectfully request the U.S. Supreme Court to provide that much needed fairness to save main streets and jobs across South Dakota," said Attorney General Jackley.
CWAG Attorney General Tim Fox of Montana announced that through a settlement agreement with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, the town of Colstrip would receive a minimum of $10 million dollars to mitigate economic impact from the closure of two electricity generating units owned by the Washington utility, Puget Sound Energy. The settlement is part of an electricity rate case filed in January by Puget Sound Energy, a part owner of all four units at the Colstrip facility. Speaking to the settlement, Attorney General Fox said, "In representing the state's interests in this rate case, my office has made clear through negotiations with PSE our expectation that the utility fulfill its responsibilities to the state of Montana. This settlement is a good start, and we urge the Washington UTC to approve it as agreed upon by the parties."
CWAG Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt of Nevada announced the largest multi-defendant indictment in Nevada Attorney General history. Late last week, a Clark County Grand Jury returned a 68 felony count indictment against 24 defendants for their roles in filing 23 fraudulent insurance claims related to staged automobile accidents and thefts. The counts against the Las Vegas residents include racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, multiple transactions involving fraud or deceit in the course of an enterprise or occupation, battery with a deadly weapon (all category "B" felonies), insurance fraud, a category "D" felony, theft in the amount of $3,500 or more, a category "B" felony, and attempted theft in the amount of $3,500 or more, a category "C" felony. The charged conduct was committed between September 2014 and May 2017. "This indictment sends a clear message of deterrence to fraudsters engaged in dangerous staged accidents in Nevada," said Attorney General Laxalt. "Unlike most fraud schemes, which pose an economic danger to potential victims, the alleged conduct put the lives of those on Nevada's roadways at risk for illicit profit. I am proud that investigators and prosecutors in my office are committed to protecting Nevadans by dismantling this, and similar, sophisticated criminal enterprises."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Peter Kilmartin of Rhode Island is warning legislators and the Governor that passage of a package of so-called "justice reinvestment" bills would have devastating consequences on the criminal justice system, would fail to protect victims, and would fail to "reinvest" in justice. He said the bills were a result of a sham commission controlled by the Governor with a pre-determined outcome and whose members were never given an opportunity to vote on final package. "When the Governor first announced the Justice Reinvestment Working Group, its stated purpose was to 'identify new ways to relieve pressures on the correctional system and increase public safety.' The package of bills about to be voted on by the General Assembly does the exact opposite," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "It is nothing more than a red herring for proponents to feel good about themselves by believing that Rhode Island is moving forward with actual criminal justice reform. This legislation take no real or meaningful steps towards that goal. A true reinvestment would take any cost savings from one side and reinvest the money into programs that would keep people out of the criminal justice system to begin with and would protect victims' rights."
Beginning next week, checks will be in the mail for consumers affected by an elaborate price-fixing conspiracy by LCD manufacturers, CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington announced. A total of $41.1 million is on its way to 24,632 consumers and businesses in all 39 counties. The recovery is among the largest in the AGO Antitrust Division's history. "This conspiracy affected millions of products Washingtonians purchased over a period of eight years," Attorney General Ferguson said. "This step brings closure and a measure of justice to consumers who were harmed by this scheme. When powerful interests don't play by the rules, my office will be there to hold them accountable." Rather than participate in a multistate case, the Attorney General's Office chose to pursue an individual case in order to get a better deal for Washington consumers. The recovery in the state's individual lawsuit may be as much as 30 percent higher than what Washington might have received as part of the multistate settlement.  On average, each consumer will receive about $203. The total varies based on the number and type of items claimed.
Ten associates of a sophisticated Arizona-based business opportunity scheme that CWAG Associate Attorney General Tom Miller of Iowa alleges is fraudulent and illegal have refunded nearly $186,000 to more than a dozen Iowans through an agreement with Attorney General Miller's office. The associates also agreed to cease any future marketing or soliciting to Iowans, and pay a $50,000 penalty to the state's consumer education and litigation fund. The Consumer Protection Division opened an investigation late last year after the family of an elderly eastern Iowa woman filed a complaint after discovering the woman had agreed to pay for an "at-home business opportunity." The Consumer Protection Division alleges a network of people and sham companies involved in the scheme bilked the woman out of $25,000. The division obtained refunds on the victim's behalf through several banks. Attorney General Miller alleges solicitors made fraudulent sales claims, charged for nonexistent goods and services, created false identities and sham businesses to further the scheme, falsified business documents, created accounts and businesses in the names of the consumers they targeted, and incurred substantial debts on several Iowa consumers' behalf.
In conjunction with National Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week, CWAG Associate Attorney General Leslie Rutledge of Arkansas launched a first-in-the-nation education initiative called "Prescription for Life" at Fort Smith Southside High School. Prescription for Life features a digital platform to help high school students in the State understand the dangers of prescription drug misuse and how to prevent abuse. Southside High School is the first institution to use the program in the country after Attorney General Rutledge announced the creation of the initiative in July, which comes at no cost to participating schools in Arkansas. "If Prescription for Life helps save just one life and creates a dialogue with high school students about opioid abuse, then the program is a success," said Attorney General Rutledge. "Arkansas is the first in the nation to launch such an educational program, and it is my goal that it will become a model for other states to adopt. I know that Fort Smith Southside will not regret bringing this curriculum to their classrooms."

CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) announced today that, as part of the company's broad commitment to fighting the national opioid abuse epidemic, it is enhancing its enterprise-wide initiatives supporting safe drug disposal, utilization management of pain medications and funding for treatment and recovery programs. CWAG Associate Attorney General Kilmartin of Rhode Island said, "CVS Health recognizes that to effectively tackle and defeat the opioid epidemic in this country, all stakeholders need to work together in a coordinated effort. I commend the company and its leadership team for not only stepping up to the plate in how it operates, but for working with its partners, especially the medical community and law enforcement, to develop and support measures that will make a real difference in this fight. CVS Health is not only a leader in Rhode Island, they are a national leader when it comes to issues that affect individuals and families in all the communities in which they operate."
Quest Diagnostics, which participated in CWAG's panel discussion on opioid abuse at the annual meeting in San Francisco this year, submitted comments in response to the interim report prepared by the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The comments address the need to highlight the role of drug testing as part of the overall response to the opioid epidemic. The comments included a link to Quest's 2017 PDM Report entitled, " Quest Diagnostics Health TrendsTM: Prescription Drug Misuse in America ", which was just issued in early September. A copy of Quest Diagnostics' comments are attached.
From a recent Wall Street Journal article : "As the opioid overdose epidemic has blazed across the U.S., the surgical community unwittingly fueled the fire. Seeking to alleviate patients' pain, and not fully appreciating the risks they posed, we have prescribed these painkillers in excess. Liberal use of opioids for postsurgical recovery has led to drug dependence and addiction. Roughly 1 in every 16 surgical patients who were prescribed opioids were still getting the drugs three to six months later, University of Michigan researchers found. The larger the opioid prescription, the greater the chance of long-term use. In other cases, the pills-morphine, oxycodone and hydrocodone-go unused by the intended patients. They sit in medicine cabinets, sock drawers or shelves, a reservoir of painkillers that are vulnerable to abuse by family or friends. Led by Johns Hopkins pain physician Mark Bicket, colleagues and I recently reported that the vast majority of surgery patients have leftover opioid pills, and hardly any of these patients dispose of the pills properly. About 54% of people who misused prescription opioids say they obtained them from a friend or relative-either with or without that person's knowledge. It's no surprise that three of every four heroin users today were first hooked on prescription opioids."
CWAG Attorney General Xavier Becerra of California challenged the Trump Administration over its plan to begin construction of border wall projects in San Diego and Imperial Counties. In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, on behalf of the people of the State of California and the California Coastal Commission, Attorney General Becerra charges that the Trump Administration violated the U.S. Constitution, failed to comply with federal and state environmental laws, and relied on a federal statute that does not authorize the proposed projects. "The California Coastal Commission is charged with upholding one of the strongest environmental laws in the country: the California Coastal Act," said Coastal Commission Chair Dayna Bochco. "We must be allowed to do our job, which is to make sure this wall and its construction impacts don't destroy this environmentally rich area." 
Chris Coppin | Legal Director
Conference of Western Attorneys General