CWAG Roundup

May 28, 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 [email protected]or 916.704.1057. 




The Environmental Protection Agency announced the final rule defining the "Waters of the U.S." along with the Army Corps of Engineers. EPA said the changes mark a "historic step for the protection of clean water" and would help roughly 117 million Americans who get drinking water from streams not clearly protected before these regulations. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the rule will only affect waters that have a "direct and significant" connection to larger bodies of water downstream that are already protected. "This is an egregious power grab by the EPA and an attempt to reach beyond the scope granted to it by Congress. This rule renders the smallest of streams and farm ponds subject to EPA jurisdiction, said CWAG Associate Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma in opposition to the rule.




The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Hawaiʻi campaign finance laws allowing the public to "follow the money" and determine who is attempting to influence their vote. A political action committee had challenged the constitutionality of Hawaiʻi's campaign finance laws, including transparency provisions applying to all political action committees that spend over $1000.00 to influence a state election. The court also upheld Hawaiʻi law banning government contractors from contributing to candidates for legislative office. "Campaign finance laws exist to inform the public and protect the democratic process," said CWAG Attorney General Doug Chin.  "The Ninth Circuit's ruling reaffirms these values and I am very pleased with the result."




CWAG Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman of Colorado announced the largest and most complex heroin bust in the history of the Rocky Mountain region. Operation Chump Change was launched in 2013 to investigate a heroin trafficking organization and a related money laundering operation based in the Denver metropolitan area. The Statewide Grand Jury returned indictments against 24 individuals for allegedly participating in an international drug trafficking organization that brought heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine from Mexico to a vast network throughout the West. The organization also is accused of operating an international money laundering enterprise. "Today's bust of the largest international drug trafficking network in Colorado history serves as a warning to all that we will not sit back and let hard drugs overtake our State. Heroin use in Colorado has reached epidemic proportions, as witnessed by a thriving market for brown powder heroin and criminals willing to risk a lifetime in prison to profit from the demand for opioids," said General Coffman.


CWAG Attorney General Sean Reyes of Utah testified in front of the bipartisan U.S Congressional & Presidential Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse & Neglect Fatalities (CECANF) as part of the national organization's public meeting in Salt Lake City. CECANF was established to develop a national strategy and recommendations for reducing fatalities resulting from child abuse and neglect. "We always appreciate when organizations take the time to listen and learn about Utah's efforts to problem solve. Today, it was a rare opportunity for me to address a Congressionally appointed body regarding the many ways my office is dedicated to keeping families safe and is particularly aggressive on crimes that involve children," said General Reyes.




CWAG Associate Attorney General Bill Schuette of Michigan announced that his Homeowner Protection Unit has filed thirty felony charges including Racketeering against attorney Steven Barry Ruza and his company, Home Legal Group, Inc., for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Michigan victims that were facing mortgage foreclosures. Ruza and Home Legal Group allegedly promised victims that they could obtain mortgage modifications and save their homes from foreclosure but then did nothing, or very little, to obtain mortgage modifications for the victims. The victims never received a modification through Ruza and Home Legal Group and most lost their homes to foreclosure. "Scam artists who prey on Michigan families are deplorable, and especially so in this case where the families were already having trouble making ends meet," said General Schuette. "We will continue to aggressively dismantle these predatory operations and prosecute the criminals behind these schemes."


CWAG Associate Attorney General Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia announced the Office recently filed suit against Florida-based Simple Recovery Solutions, or SRS, and its owners for allegedly trying to collect unverified debt or debt which never really existed from West Virginia consumers. The complaint alleges that SRS engaged in unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in violation of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act by repeatedly contacting consumers to collect debt they didn't owe. "This complaint seeks to protect West Virginia consumers from paying out money they do not owe," General Morrisey said. "Our Office believes SRS and its owners have collected, or attempted to collect, unverified debts from at least 125 West Virginia consumers so far."




CWAG Associate Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin of Rhode Island has filed legislation in the Rhode Island Senate that prohibits medical marijuana patients and caregivers from extracting THC from marijuana using a flammable liquid. The legislation would allow compassion centers to extract THC using a flammable liquid only within rules and regulations to be promulgated by the Rhode Island Department of Health. "We only need to look to what Colorado, Oregon and Washington State have experienced to know how dangerous and potentially deadly the manufacture of BHO can be if not properly regulated. We need to get a handle on this public safety problem before anyone is injured, or worse, killed," said General Kilmartin.




CWAG Associate Attorney General William Sorrell of Vermont filed a settlement with Embassy Suites South San Francisco, California. The agreement settles allegations that the hotel failed to notify consumers of a security breach in the most expedient time possible and without unreasonable delay. In July 2013, Embassy Suites South San Francisco received notifications from customers of unauthorized charges on their credit cards. Notice of a breach was not sent to Vermont residents until February 7, 2014, approximately six months later. The Attorney General entered into a similar settlement with Auburn University. That agreement regarded an unrelated breach that took place in November 2013 involving the exposure of Vermont residents' social security numbers. Auburn University took over two months to determine that a security breach had occurred after first discovering a security vulnerability, and did not notify Vermont residents until about four months after the vulnerability was discovered. Vermont's Security Breach Notice Act requires notice to the Vermont Attorney General within 14 days, and notice to consumers "in the most expedient time possible and without unreasonable delay, but not later than 45 days after discovery or notification of the breach."



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.


Order your copy today!

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)

[email protected]