CWAG Roundup

May 21, 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. 




Former CWAG Attorney General John Suthers of Colorado was elected Mayor of Colorado Springs, Colorado in a runoff election last Tuesday. Suthers, who served two terms as district attorney in Colorado Springs, led the Colorado Department of Corrections and most recently served two terms as the Colorado Attorney General, won the election with nearly 68 percent of the vote. "Tonight, the citizens of Colorado Springs have spoken loud and clear," Suthers said, taking the dais at the Gold Room with his wife, Janet. "They want to see Colorado Springs moving again.



Former CWAG Associate Attorney General Martha Coakley of Massachusetts will join Foley Hoag LLP in the firm's Boston. Ms. Coakley will work in several of Foley Hoag's key practice areas, including healthcare, education, finance, energy, data privacy and security, and government and internal investigations. Her legal career spans more than 30 years. It includes private practice and a succession of high-profile public sector positions, most notably her eight years as Massachusetts Attorney General, from 2007-2015. "Foley Hoag has a national reputation for excellence and integrity in legal practice. It has also shown a consistent commitment to important social issues in Massachusetts. It works actively to promote diversity and to create opportunities for people through its pro bono program and the Foley Hoag Foundation. It is a firm where I can pursue interests I've had throughout my career and branch out into new areas," Ms. Coakley said. "I'm very much looking forward to contributing to the firm's success and the success of its clients."




CWAG Associate Attorney General Maura Healey of Massachusetts announced her office's Community Engagement Division. The first-of-its-kind division will bring the Attorney General's Office and its work into neighborhoods and communities across the Commonwealth, thus building on her promise to run an inclusive and responsive office. "This is the people's law firm and it's important to me that people across our state are connected with our Office and the work we do," said General Healey. "My experience traveling around the state taught me that many residents do not understand the full scope and reach of the Attorney General's Office. This new division will help ensure people are connected with the resources they need to help solve their problems."  




CWAG Associate Attorney General Bill Schuette of Michigan announced he has negotiated a $2.2 million settlement with South Dakota-based Western Sky Financial, LLC and California-based CashCall, Inc. The settlement resolves allegations of unlicensed loans made to approximately 17,500 Michigan consumers bearing illegally high interest rates. The settlement will automatically reduce the interest rate on all loans owned by Western Sky and CashCall to Michigan's legal rate of 7%. Additional relief will be available for consumers who file a valid claim. "We will not tolerate any businesses attempting to skirt the rules at the expense of Michigan consumers trying to make ends meet," said General Schuette. "This settlement is a victory for the thousands of Michigan consumers who took out Western Sky loans and serves as a warning to only do business with licensed entities. I am grateful for the joint efforts and hard work by the Department of Insurance and Financial Services and my staff that secured this settlement providing significant relief for Michigan consumers."


CWAG Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman of Colorado announced that her office has filed a civil lawsuit against Freedom Stores Inc., d/b/a/ Freedom Furniture & Electronics, Military Credit Services, LLC, and Freedom Acceptance Corporation. These companies have repeatedly broken Colorado lending and consumer protection laws in their aggressive pursuit of military customers. The Attorney General's complaint alleges that these companies sell consumer goods and services on credit, service those and other consumer loans, and collect on those loans when they are delinquent. They primarily target members of the military and their families at their Colorado Springs retail store and through affiliated vendors. "My office is committed to protecting Colorado's consumers, and we will stop any company that seeks to take advantage of military service members and the chain of command to unjustly profit from illegal lending schemes," said General Coffman. "The goal of this lawsuit is to ensure that merchants that focus their businesses on the military community do so honestly and in full compliance with the law. We will not tolerate businesses who line their pockets with the sacrifices of our military." 




CWAG Attorney General Marty Jackley of South Dakota announced that the South Dakota 24/7 Sobriety Program is now being featured as part of the U.S. Department of Justice's Crime Solutions. "The 24/7 Sobriety Program is helping to address alcohol and drug addiction while better protecting the public across South Dakota and our Nation. The opportunity to be listed with the Office of Justice's Crime Solutions will allow even further visibility and recognition to best practices in DUI enforcement," said General Jackley. In 2005, then-Attorney General Larry Long implemented his idea of the 24/7 Sobriety Program as a pilot project in three counties in South Dakota, and in 2007 the state legislature unanimously approved the formal creation of the program.


CWAG Associate Attorney General Pam Bondi of Florida announced that the owner of a now defunct South Florida pain clinic and a former physician of the clinic are facing multiple charges stemming from the trafficking of Oxycodone. According to an investigation by the Office of Statewide Prosecution, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Broward Sheriff's Office, a patient died of a drug overdose three days after his 17th visit to the clinic. "We have made great strides to rid our state of the death and destruction caused by pill mills and we will not tolerate doctors or clinic owners abusing the trust we placed in them to sell massive amounts of dangerous drugs to patients that do not need them," said General Bondi. "I applaud my Office of Statewide Prosecution, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Broward Sheriff's Office for the great investigative work that led to these arrests."




CWAG Associate Attorney General Bill Schuette of Michigan announced a $75 million settlement with Enbridge Energy and other Enbridge affiliates over a spill that sent more than 800,000 gallons of oil into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River from a pipeline owned and operated by Enbridge The agreement will finalize cleanup and restoration requirements for areas affected by the spill. "Michigan is the Great Lakes state and we must protect our precious natural resources now and for future generations," said General Schuette. "This settlement will help to restore affected waterways and wetlands, as well as provide improved access for families to enjoy the beauty of the Kalamazoo River."


The Council of State Governments West (CSG West) wrote to the Senate Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight Subcommittee on oversight of scientific advisory panels and processes at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The CSG West letter stated, among other things, the following: "Despite our organization's call for greater consultation with Western states, communication challenges remain. In many instances state consultation by federal agencies, including U.S. EPA, has taken place in the latter part of the policy development process, placing states and regional organizations such as CSG West in a reactionary position to a proposed regulation or interpretation as opposed to engaging states on the front-end of the process to ensure that state perspectives are taken into account. . . In addition to the state consultation challenges, limited state representation exists in EPA advisory panels. U.S. EPA advisory panels play an important role in providing independent advice to the EPA Administrator and other high level administration officials on a number of technical issues, including the development of rules related to the jurisdiction and application of the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and other regulations that impact state authority. Because they provide an independent voice to complex, technical matters, it is imperative that such advisory boards be comprised by a wide array of stakeholders, including state level representatives. However, states are largely underrepresented in EPA advisory panels." A complete copy of the letter is included in the attached articles.


The agencies responsible for protecting imperiled species proposed changes to the way in which outside groups ask the federal government to review the status of plants and animals under the Endangered Species Act. One proposed change would give states a bigger role in the petition process and increase coordination with federal wildlife officials, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service. Petitioners, which are most often environmental groups or animal welfare advocates, would have to solicit information from relevant state wildlife agencies prior to asking the services to review the status of a given species. The proposal was quickly panned by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), one of the most frequent petitioners of FWS and NMFS, as an unnecessary step and a burden on concerned citizen groups.



CWAG is proud to announce the recent release of the latest edition of the American Indian Law Deskbook.


Indian law is a dynamic, ever-evolving field of law that overlaps other areas of the law as tribes expand their economic and political reach in our society. If a lawyer needs a concise, direct and easy to understand handbook on Indian law, the American Indian Law Deskbook meets that need. As the chief legal officers of the States, the State Attorneys General offer a unique insight into Indian law. The States have been parties to many of the cases that have shaped Indian law over the years before the United States Supreme Court and the lower courts. Beginning in 1988, the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) saw the need not only to develop a treatise that reflected the current status of Indian law, but also to create a framework adaptable to new developments - decisional or statutory - on a frequent basis. The chapter authors of this book are experienced state lawyers who have been involved in Indian law for many years.


Pre-order your copy today, books are expected to start shipping on May 22, 2015.


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)