SAVE THE DATE
CWAG Chair, Oregon Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum, announces that she will hold her CWAG Chair Initiative on May 24, 2016, in Portland, Oregon: STUDENT DEBT: THE OBLIGATION OF A LIFETIME? A registration packet is attached and an agenda is under development.
There is no greater category of consumer debt today than education-related debt. Even credit card debt has been surpassed by the 1.3 trillion dollars of outstanding debt owed by former students and their families today.
Never before have college students entered the workforce with such a staggering debt burden as they do today. This burden is crushing young people's hopes to move on in their lives in the ways many of us who went to school in a bygone era simply took for granted: getting married, starting a family, buying a car -- buying a home -- starting a business, etc. How ironic it is that, rather than improving young people's chances to advance in life, incurring significant debt in order to go to school may be having the opposite effect and stopping -- or at least slowing down-- this advancement.
What can we, as state Attorneys General, do to address and help resolve this crisis? After all, we do not want our families or the people we serve to be stuck with these student debt obligations for their entire lifetime. Right?
First and foremost, we can inform ourselves about it and discuss options and strategies that AG's can use to address it. That's what this conference will do. It will be worth your time -- I promise!
We play an important role in protecting consumers -- which includes students, and former students -- from misleading, unfair and deceptive practices. These practices may involve those who work for educational institutions as well as in the loan industry itself. In this context, they could involve debt servicing, debt consolidation, debt collection and loan underwriting. They might involve loan co-signers and issues pertaining to discharging a student loan through bankruptcy. Complaints relating to veterans being targeted by educational institutions for enrollment in programs that are not likely to lead to the jobs they are hoping for, but instead only to burdensome debt, will be discussed as well. I think we can all agree that our veterans, who may have put off their education in order to serve our country, deserve a very hard look at whether they have been treated deceptively and unfairly.
Please join me to help explore the problems that have brought us to this untenable situation. We will have speakers discussing all aspects of this issue of educational debt. They will describe the problem and offer constructive recommendations for best practices to be employed by educational institutions, the loan industry and government regulators.
Together, we can work toward helping to ensure that students and their families make wise and informed choices when deciding to take on educational debt; and that when the time comes to pay it back, the former student has graduated and is gainfully employed and prepared to repay his or her loans in amounts and on a schedule that works for everyone. Only then can we rest assured that education-related debt will NOT be the obligation of a lifetime!
Thanks for considering this important invitation. I hope to see you in Portland and I promise to show you a good time here in addition to putting on a fabulous conference.
Ellen F. Rosenblum
State of Oregon
Chair of CWAG
CWAG ANNUAL MEETING REGISTRATION NOW OPEN
The Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG), Oregon Attorney General and CWAG Chair Ellen Rosenblum along with Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden invite you to join your colleagues for the CWAG Annual Meeting, July 17-20, 2016 in Sun Valley, Idaho at the Sun Valley Resort.
Please note the important dates and information below:
To register online or download and print the registration information in a PDF form to register manually use the following link: https://www.cwagweb.org/sunvalley/registration
If you have attended an annual meeting in the past few years your contact information has been saved in the registration system. Please review your contact information during the registration process to make sure it is current.
To register, go to "Sign In" and enter the email address and password you or your assistant previously provided. If you can't recall your password, click on the "Forgot Password" link and your password will be sent to the email that is saved in the system.
If you have not previously registered for the annual meeting go to "New Registration", enter your email and create a personal password to be used for future registrations.
Early Bird Registration: The cutoff date for Early Bird registration is Friday, June 3, 2016 at 5:00p (PT). Your online registration must be finalized or your manual registration form received via fax or email to the CWAG office by 5:00p (PT) on June 3. All registrations received after this time and date will be charged the regular registration fee.
Onsite Registration: Pre-registering for primary attendees and guests who would like to attend any of the substantive or social opportunities is required. CWAG must make commitments to the hotel and activity vendors based on pre-registered guests prior to our arrival. The registration fees cover the cost of activities and meals at the conference which have been pre-arranged. Given the necessity of pre planning, we will not be accepting any onsite registrations.
Hotel Room Cut Cutoff: The last day to reserve your room within the CWAG room block is Thursday, June 23, 2016. If the room block sells out prior to that time, reservations will be accepted on a space available basis. The reservation number for the Sun Valley Resort is 800.786.8259. Ask for the CWAG room block to receive our discounted rates.
CWAG Attorney General Mark Brnovich of Arizona, will be hosting an International Cooperation Across the Border conference, in conjunction with the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) Alliance Partnership and the Southwest Border Anti-Money Laundering Alliance (SWBAML) February 29 to March 1, 2016 in Scottsdale, Arizona. This conference will provide an opportunity for US state Attorneys General, the state Attorneys General from Mexico and representatives from the PGR, CNVB, TRAC and other law enforcement agencies to meet and collaborate on topics surrounding transnational organized crime. For additional information on this conference, please contact Lauren Niehaus, Director of Program Coordination for the CWAG Alliance Partnership at: Lniehaus@cwagweb.org or 303.827.9039.
ATTORNEYS GENERAL vs. STATE LEGISLATURES
Officials at all levels of Idaho government seemed to be afflicted with an aversion to advice from professionals. At the state level, the Idaho Legislature has often chosen to ignore the legal advice of the Idaho Attorney General's Office when it comes to the constitutional foundation for legislation ranging from the takeover of federal lands in Idaho to a host of strict abortion bills. The lawyers working for Attorney General Lawrence Wasden are experts in determining applicable law and reviewing court decisions. They know when a law is dead on arrival if its legality is appealed. And their track record is good. If Idaho government continues to discount the importance of professional advice when it considers future actions, Idaho citizens are doomed to continue to pay for those mistakes.
The Legislature's quest to transfer 31 million acres from federal to state control, and its possible approval of $14 million to fund a lawsuit for that purpose, may hinge on attorneys' confidence Utah can win. To that end, recently introduced bills could hinder state attorneys' independence when rendering a legal opinion, especially if the opinion is not what legislators want to hear. A number of attorneys have rated Utah's odds of prevailing in such a lawsuit as slim to none. But New Orleans-based Davillier Law Group, which was paid nearly $640,000 to conduct a feasibility study, concluded the state would have a good shot at winning. HB268 would exempt the attorney general's lawyers from the Career Service System, meaning their jobs would become more vulnerable because they no longer would be shielded as merit employees. The bill would affect 250 attorneys in the office who are currently merit employees, said CWAG Attorney General Sean Reyes spokesman Dan Burton. HB123 would require the attorney general to recuse a lawyer in his office from working on a matter if it is deemed that staffer has a conflict of interest or if the attorney's impartiality "might reasonably be questioned." In other words, the bills seem to ensure the legislators have attorneys who tell them what they want to hear. So it's a case of see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
A federal consumer protection agency sued one of the nation's largest for-profit college chains, accusing DeVry Education Group Inc. of deceiving prospective students about the employment success of its graduates. The Federal Trade Commission, one of several federal agencies investigating the for-profit school industry, took aim at DeVry advertisements claiming 90% of its graduates who sought jobs found them in their field of study within six months of graduation. It accuses the school of including workers in low-paying retail jobs as finding work in their field of study, such as a business administration major working as a restaurant server. In a suit filed in a California federal court, the FTC is asking a judge to provide monetary remedies to allegedly deceived students, including refunds and restitution. The lawsuit also seeks to permanently bar DeVry from using faulty statistics in its advertisements.
CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington announced his office will soon launch a website for consumers to file claims for their share of the $63 million LCD recovery. In the meantime, the AGO cautions consumers that a third-party agent has set up a website to file claims on behalf of consumers, but will charge one-third of the recovery money to do so. When the AGO claims website goes live, consumers can file their own claims for free. The third-party agent is Financial Recovery Services (FRS). According to its authorization terms, "FRS shall determine based on the information provided by the client if he or she is eligible, and based on that determination will prepare and submit the client's claim." In addition, "for managing the claim client agrees to pay FRS 33% of each claim received." The FRS website is not to be mistaken for the official Attorney General LCD claims website, which has not yet been launched. The LCD agreement is one of the largest recoveries for Washington by the Attorney General's Antitrust Division in state history.
CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington prevailed in his lawsuit against a California company that scammed new property owners into buying overpriced deeds. Summary judgment was issued against Bellflower, Calif.-based LA Investors, LLC, which conducts business as "Local Records Office." The court found the company violated the state Consumer Protection Act at least 215,000 times by sending at least that many mailers. The company sent official-looking notices implying that consumers must buy their dramatically overpriced $89 deeds. Deeds typically cost only a few dollars from a local county office, and many property owners can obtain a copy of their deed for free online. "These scammers preyed on new property owners, who often face a challenging maze of paperwork and fees involved in buying their property," General Ferguson said. "My office will stand up for consumers and hold fraudsters accountable for deceptive business practices."
CWAG Attorney General Kamala D. Harris of California convened the 21st Century Policing Working Group to mark the one-year anniversary of the group's formation, report on accomplishments to date, and discuss future goals. General Harris created the 21st Century Policing Working Group in January 2015 to improve peace officer training, promote data driven accountability, and build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. The Attorney General met with the group of law enforcement leaders ahead of the release of OpenJustice 1.1, which will give the public access to a variety of new features, data and information on the state's criminal justice system. The new data will include visual tools and interactive charts to allow users to compare and cross reference county and agency data sets against statewide averages, and local crime data. OpenJustice is a first-of-its-kind criminal justice open data initiative that releases unprecedented data while being interactive and easy to use. The tool consists of two components: a Dashboard that spotlights key criminal justice indicators with user-friendly visualization tools and an Open Data Portal that publishes raw data from the California Department of Justice's statewide repository of criminal justice datasets.