CWAG Roundup

May 14, 2015



CWAG Annual Meeting: 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. Be sure to register and reserve your rooms today!


Please note that the draft agenda has been updated and will continue to be amended as the meeting dates approach. Click here for a newly updated Draft Agenda.


Any questions can be directed to CWAG Meeting Planner Janine Knudsen at janine.knudsen@cwagweb.orgor 916.704.1057. 



After 12 years of service in the state government, Robert "Bob" E. Cooper Jr. rejoins Bass, Berry & Sims PLC as a partner in its Nashville office. Mr. Cooper worked for the firm from 1984 to 2003 before becoming Gov. Phil Bredesen's legal counsel from 2003 to 2006. Mr. Cooper then served as the Tennessee attorney general from 2006 to 2014. "It is a great place to come back to, and it's nice to be reunited with friends," Mr. Cooper said. Mr. Cooper will work in the firm's interdisciplinary Compliance & Government Investigation Practice Group and represent clients across the U.S. on issues pertaining to fraud and abuse, with a focus on the health care industry. "A lot of what I will be trying to do is help those clients understand that law so they can operate in compliance and not face any problems with the government," Mr. Cooper said. "But if that situation arises, I think it is helpful to act as a facilitator and help the two sides understand."


Cozen O'Connor announced the addition of 10 attorneys and government professionals to its Washington, D.C., office and the formation of the firm's State Attorneys General Practice. Bernard Nash and  Lori Kalani will co-chair the practice. Mr. Nash and Ms. Kalani are joined by partners JB Kelly, Milton Marquis, Maria Colsey Heard,  Ann-Marie Luciano and Chris Allen; senior adviser Chris Tampio; associate Bryan Mosca; and AG policy coordinator Emily Lundahl. The State Attorneys General Practice has decades of experience representing companies on legal and policy matters brought by state attorneys general across the country including defending clients against litigation, qui tam actions, and investigations (both multistate and federal co-enforcement actions) of business practices relating to antitrust, consumer protection, data privacy, and the environment.




CWAG Attorney General Mark Brnovich of Arizona took a trip to Sonora, Mexico, were met with Sonora Attorney General Carlos Navarro, Sonora Governor Guillermo Padres Elias, and President of the Sonora Supreme Court Juan Sebastian Sotomayor Tovar. The meeting was organized by the Conference of Western Attorneys General to further discussions regarding cooperation between the neighboring states that began in Phoenix in March. General Brnovich believes that strengthening relationships with Mexican law enforcement and judicial officials is crucial to the long- term fight against criminal activity from human and weapons trafficking to piracy and drug sales. "I appreciate the generous efforts and hospitality from Attorney General Navarro and the opportunity to further our dialogue regarding cooperation between neighboring law enforcement entities," said General Brnovich. "I am grateful for the opportunity to work together on our mutual development and safety and look forward to ongoing discussions."




CWAG Attorney General Hector Balderas of New Mexico said he will review the curriculum of the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy and seek ways to ensure officer discipline is handled appropriately. In his announcement, General Balderas, who chairs the board that oversees the academy, said he also will examine whether the facility is following state transparency laws months after facing criticism for changes to curriculum. Those changes came as the U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation into Albuquerque police amid more than 40 police shootings since 2010.  "I intend to be a thoughtful and active chair and expect that this will be among the most aggressive and active boards in the country," General Balderas said.


CWAG Attorney General Marty Jackley of South Dakota announced that the South Dakota Supreme Court unanimously ruled that his office followed South Dakota's disclosure law relating to the Richard Benda death investigation conducted by local, state, and federal authorities. "After today's decision, the final remaining action is for me to publically address my disappointment in how the federal government has handled this matter. I have expressed my concerns to the Department of Justice regarding its conduct and the appearance of political motivation associated with the handling, timing and publicity regarding the investigation from Washington.  The actions of the Department of Justice's Public Integrity Section were unfair to local federal investigators who worked in cooperation with state and local authorities to properly investigate this matter. I will certainly work with the new administration at the Department of Justice to assist them in properly addressing these concerns," said General Jackley.




CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington announced that his office successfully defended Washington's voter-approved Initiative-594, which expanded the state's firearm background check requirements, against a challenge in federal court. U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle dismissed the case of Northwest School of Safety v. Ferguson, in which the plaintiffs argued that the recently enacted law is unconstitutional. The court found that the Plaintiffs had suffered no injury from I-594, and thus lacked legal standing to challenge the law. "It is my job to stand up for and protect the will of the voters," General Ferguson said, "I am proud of the work my office has done in this case to defend the challenge to I-594."




The Montana governor signed Senate Bill 66, which prohibits the sale of electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, to minors. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Diane Sands of Missoula and introduced at the request of CWAG Attorney General Tim Fox. E-cigarettes, the use of which is often referred to as "vaping," are battery-operated products designed to deliver nicotine to the user by heating liquid nicotine, derived from tobacco plants, along with flavors and other chemicals, into a vapor that the user inhales. Often e-cigarettes feature fruit and candy flavors, and the marketing includes cartoon characters and other imagery clearly targeted at a younger audience. "E-cigarettes can be just as dangerous and addictive as traditional cigarettes, yet right now it is perfectly legal to sell them to minors in Montana," General Fox said. "The legislature did the right thing and took another important step toward protecting children, and I'm grateful to Sen. Sands for her hard work on this important bill."




CWAG Attorney General Sean Reyes of Utah announced he will testify at a Congressional hearing titled, A Pathway to Freedom: Rescue and Refuge for Sex Trafficking Victims, which will be held before the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee  on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations. General Reyes participated in a rescue sting operation with Operation Underground Railroad in Colombia where he and several others liberated over 120 young children from a modern-day sex slavery ring operated by a network of human traffickers.  "I applaud Congressman Smith and the many others who support legislation like this International Megan's Law," said General Reyes. "Protecting children and women from exploitation by providing advance notice of intended travel by registered child-sex offenders to the government of the country of destination is another powerful step toward stopping child-sex trafficking."




CWAG Attorney General Kamala Harris of California and University of California President Janet Napolitano directed colleges to quickly notify authorities when a sexual assault is reported on campus, following criticism that incidents were being hidden by universities and not investigated thoroughly. They released a template outlining cooperation between campuses and law enforcement agencies mandated under a state law passed last year. The model guidelines include requiring agencies to test rape kits; better coordinate interviews so victims don't have to recount a traumatic experience multiple times; and make sure students are informed of their right to file a report - or not to. "Part of the work we have done is to acknowledge that there are silos in our system," General Harris said. "And we need to break through those."




The Supreme Court asked the federal government to weigh in on a lawsuit brought by Oklahoma and Nebraska seeking to roll back Colorado's legalization of recreational marijuana use. The states claim Colorado has created a "cross-border nuisance" by increasing the supply of marijuana that could flow throughout the region. "The administration's wholesale disregard for the law led Oklahoma and Nebraska to sue Colorado to stop the stream of illegal marijuana flowing into our states as a result of Colorado's legalization of the commercial production and sale of marijuana," said Aaron Cooper, spokesman for CWAG Associate Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma. CWAG Associate Attorney General Doug Peterson of Nebraska said he was "excited the court has recognized the importance of the issue to Nebraskans and I look forward hearing the federal government's views." "As we argued in our brief, the federal government's decision to defer to Colorado's regulation of marijuana is at the heart of this case," said CWAG Attorney General Cynthia Coffman of Colorado. "We are pleased that the Supreme Court has asked the United States to explain its position on this litigation." 



Chris Coppin

Legal Director

Conference of Western Attorneys General

111 Lomas, NW   Suite 300

Albuquerque, New Mexico 87102


505-660-5901 (cell)

505-222-9183 (fax)