UPCOMING CWAG EVENTS
On April 21, 2015, CWAG will convene a panel of experts to discuss the policy and legal implications of the recent USDOJ memo regarding the enforcement of federal marijuana laws in Indian Country. State, tribal and federal officials will address topics such as recommendations the federal government might make to tribes prior to implementing a medical or recreational marijuana program. The panel will also discuss how to address the potential conflicts between tribes and states with differing marijuana policies. This interactive one hour webinar will be available for CLE credit through CWAG's partner, WestLegalEd. Register here.
On May 6, 2015, CWAG will be hosting a one day seminar on U.S. policies concerning the export of domestically produced energy to foreign markets. The seminar will be held in Washington, DC. An agenda for this seminar will be available by mid-March. Please download this registration form and email to: [email protected]
The Conference of Western Attorneys General and CWAG Chair, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden invite you to attend the CWAG Annual Meeting, July 19-22, 2015, in Wailea, Hawaii at The Grand Wailea Resort. Full meeting and registration details available here. Any questions can be directed to CWAG Meeting Planner Janine Knudsen at [email protected] or 916.704.1057
CWAG Associate Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin of Rhode Island announced that his office will lead a prosecutorial training seminar in Providence this week for prosecutors, forensic scientists and investigators from the Mexican states of Morelos and Hidalgo. In 2008, Mexico passed a series of federal constitutional reforms requiring oral adversarial criminal trials. "As Mexico continues its transition to an adversarial justice system, it is critical for us to provide guidance and training to ensure that a sound and fair judicial system is established. The United States of America has hundreds of years of ensuring justice through an adversarial system, and I am proud to provide an opportunity to collaborate with and train those charged with upholding Mexico's system of law," said General Kilmartin. "By sharing our knowledge and expertise, we are helping Mexico build a judicial system in which its citizens can have confidence and trust." The seminar is part of an ongoing series of trainings by United States attorneys general developed by the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG). In 2006, CWAG joined forces with various state and federal agencies, as well as numerous public and private sector entities, to form the CWAG Alliance Partnership - a cooperative justice program aimed at strengthening the legal systems of both the United States and Mexico.
FORMER CWAG ATTORNEY GENERAL DAVE FROHNMAYER PASSES AWAY
Dave Frohnmayer, a former University of Oregon president who also had one of the state's most distinguished political careers has died according to Marla Rae, a longtime friend and family spokeswoman. Mr. Frohnmayer was attorney general from 1981 to 1991 and was the Republican candidate for governor in 1990, losing to Democrat Barbara Roberts. He later became dean of the University of Oregon Law School and was then president of the University of Oregon from 1994 until his retirement in 2009. CWAG Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum issued the following statement:"We all mourn the loss of a truly great former Oregon Attorney General (1981-1991) Dave Frohnmayer. I'm pretty sure Dave is the one who described Oregon DOJ as providing the 'gold standard' of legal service to state government -and he made sure we did! He was, among his many other accomplishments, a lawyer's lawyer, a brilliant scholar and teacher. Dave was my first year torts professor at the University of Oregon Law School in the 1970's. Since then, he has been a professional colleague and dear friend and mentor. I will miss him very much and extend condolences to his wife, Lynn, his family and all Oregonians who are affected by this tremendous loss."
CWAG OFFICE ACHIEVEMENTS
According to a state-by-state breakdown released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, CWAG Associate Attorney General Buddy Caldwell's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) recovered more than $118,815,109 in criminal case recoveries during 2014, earning a #1 ranking nationally as compared with all other states. Additionally, the Attorney General's MFCU achieved a #2 national ranking for civil Medicaid fraud recoveries during 2014 totaling $126,489,951.The Attorney General's MFCU consistently holds a top spot as one of the highest performing units in the nation, having recovered more than $100 million annually through criminal fraud and civil fraud cases during the years 2012, 2013 and 2014. General Caldwell said, "My office has been so successful because I have well-trained, experienced and aggressive staff members assigned to these cases. We place strong emphasis on pursuing fraudulent conduct related to the theft of and misappropriation of taxpayer dollars. Additionally, my staff has leveraged minimal resources to achieve extraordinary results and, where appropriate, have worked together with experienced, complex litigation lawyers to maximize the state's recovery on these issues."
NEWS OF FORMER CWAG SUPPORTERS
Former California Special Assistant Attorney General, Travis LeBlanc, is the Enforcement Bureau Chief for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). He will likely be one of the most powerful non-commissioners at the FCC now that the agency, under chairman Tom Wheeler, is ramping up its complaint process under the new Title II-based Open Internet order. The order has three bright-line rules against unreasonable blocking, throttling and paid prioritization. But other practices that fall outside of those provisions, such as complaints about interconnection, usage-based pricing and other matters the FCC hasn't anticipated, will be addressed under either a Title II "just and reasonable" standard (interconnection) or a general conduct standard catch-all with the Enforcement Bureau tasked with investigating and taking action.
CWAG Associate Attorney General Pam Bondi of Florida announced the arrest of 15 suspects after an investigation revealed a human trafficking network involving multiple victims operating from Central to South Florida. "Today's arrests demonstrate that human trafficking will not be tolerated in Florida," said General Bondi. "I applaud my Office of Statewide Prosecution and FDLE for shutting down this huge sex trafficking ring. We will aggressively prosecute these defendants and anyone else looking to profit off the enslavement and misery of others." The investigation began in 2013 after the Collier County Sheriff's Office discovered a human trafficking victim during a traffic stop. Investigators subsequently identified six women who were illegally smuggled into the United States after being promised legal jobs and to be reunited with family. However, once in the country, the women were forced to work as commercial sex slaves.
STATE MARIJUANA NEWS
Sheriffs and prosecutors from across Colorado and neighboring states filed a lawsuit in Denver federal district court challenging the constitutionality of Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana use and sales. "This suit is about one thing - the rule of law," Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said in a news release. "The Colorado Constitution mandates that all elected officials, including sheriffs, swear an oath of office to uphold both the United States as well as the Colorado Constitutions." Amendment 64 established a new right under the state constitution to engage in an activity that is in violation of federal laws, he said. CWAG Attorney General Cynthia Coffman will contest the lawsuit, said Carolyn Tyler, General Coffman's spokeswoman.
In 2011, North Dakota's oil wells flared an average 4.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas every month. It was the equivalent, at the time, of burning $18 million every 30 days or so. Even the state's industry friendly governor, Jack Dalrymple, was alarmed. "The governor said, 'You figure out how to fix this or we will,'" North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness recalled recently. In 2013, companies in the state flared 107 billion cubic feet of natural gas, or about one-third of the 348 billion cubic feet produced. By the end of 2014, that figure was lowered to 24 percent. Alaska, Texas and Wyoming, by contrast, flared fewer than 2 percent of their production, according to the Western Organization of Resource Councils, a coalition of landowner groups across the West. The strategy, implemented last year, sets a statewide flaring target, empowers regulators to curtail production if companies do not meet the state goal and calls on firms to submit plans for how they intend to capture gas before a well is drilled.
ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT
CWAG Attorney General Craig Richards of Alaska announced that the State filed a lawsuit challenging the December 2012 decision by the National Marine Fisheries Service ("NMFS") to list the Arctic ringed seal as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Ringed seals currently enjoy healthy and abundant populations numbering in the millions and are fully protected by existing laws, such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Despite this fact, NMFS listed the ringed seal based solely on speculative threats associated with climate change 100 years into the future. This decision is just one of a series of federal actions listing healthy species based on climate threats predicted increasingly farther into the future. "Like the bearded seal, the listing of the ringed seal is unwarranted, and only does harm to Alaskans and our ability to develop our resources," said General Richards. "Basing decisions on speculative projections 100 years into the future does not help further the goals of the Endangered Species Act, nor does it comply with the law."