The State AG Report Weekly Update November 9, 2017

AG Elections

2017 Virginia Attorney General and New Jersey Governor Election Results

  • In Virginia’s AG race, Democrat incumbent AG Mark Herring defeated Republican John Adams by a margin of 53.3% to 46.7%. Virginia’s race was the year’s only AG election.
  • In New Jersey’s race for Governor, Democrat Phil Murphy defeated Republican Kim Guadagno by a margin of 55.4% to 42.5% (with 99% of precincts reporting). Governor-elect Murphy will have the authority to appoint a new AG upon taking office, replacing current AG Christopher S. Porrino.
  • In light of this week’s election results, the nationwide AG landscape is likely to be 28 Republican AGs and 23 Democrat AGs.

Republican Wes Duncan Announces Bid for Nevada Attorney General

  • Republican Wes Duncan declared his candidacy for Nevada AG in 2018.
  • Duncan served as First Assistant AG under AG Adam Laxalt and previously served in the Nevada state Assembly and as a Judge Advocate General for the U.S. Air Force.
  • Duncan is the sole Republican to announce his candidacy thus far. Democratic state Senator and Majority Leader Aaron Ford announced his candidacy in September.
  • As previously reported, incumbent Nevada AG Adam Laxalt is seeking the Republican Party’s nomination for the Governor of Nevada in 2018.

Antitrust

Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island Attorneys General Urge FCC to Block Media Company Merger

  • Illinois AG Lisa Madigan led AGs from Maryland, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island in filing comments with the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) opposing Tribune Media Company’s (“Tribune”) proposed merger with Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (“Sinclair”).
  • According to the AGs’ comments, the proposed transfer of Tribune’s television stations to Sinclair would not serve the public interest and would decrease consumer choices. The AGs recommend that the FCC block the merger or delay its decision until a D.C. Circuit court decides a pending case examining an FCC rule that could potentially affect statutory standards applicable to the merger.

Charities

21 Attorneys General Settle with Veterans Charity Over Allegations of Deceiving Donors

  • 21 AGs—led by California AG Xavier Becerra, Illinois AG Madigan, Michigan AG Bill Schuette, and Ohio AG Mike DeWine—reached a settlement with veterans’ charity VietNow National Headquarters Inc. (“VietNow”) for allegedly violating state charitable solicitation laws by engaging in deceptive solicitations and directing donations to its for-profit professional fundraiser.
  • According to the AGs, VietNow allegedly utilized false and misleading telemarketing solicitation scripts, diverted charitable funds, and submitted false and inaccurate financial statements in an effort to solicit donations under the pretense that donations would support veterans’ services.
  • Under the terms of the multistate settlement, VietNow will be dissolved and its assets distributed to two national veterans’ charities. The settlement also places a permanent injunction barring VietNow’s directors and officers from any future involvement in running a charity or soliciting donations.
  • As previously reported, this settlement follows a string of actions involving the charity; in March 2017, AG Schuette filed a Notice of Intended Action and a Cease and Desist Order against VietNow over its deceptive solicitations, and in June 2017, AG Madigan reached a settlement with VietNow’s telemarketer Safety Publications Inc.

Data Privacy

New York and Vermont Attorneys General Reach Settlements with Hotel Chain Over Alleged Data Breaches

  • New York AG Eric Schneiderman and Vermont AG T.J. Donovan reached settlements with Hilton Domestic Operating Company, Inc. f/k/a Hilton Worldwide, Inc. (“Hilton”) for allegedly violating the states’ security breach notice and consumer protection laws by failing to maintain reasonable data security measures and allowing state-specified time periods to lapse before notifying the AGs and consumers following data breach incidents.
  • According to the AGs’ offices, Hilton allegedly experienced two separate data breaches, between November and December 2014 and again between April and July 2015, and did not provide notice to the AGs or consumers until November 2015, over nine months after the first intrusion was discovered in February 2015.
  • Under the terms of the settlements with New York and Vermont, Hilton must, among other things, provide immediate notice to consumers affected by a breach, maintain a comprehensive information security program, conduct data security assessments, and pay a total penalty of $700,000 to the two states.

Pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceutical Company Files Cert Petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to Challenge New Hampshire AG’s Use of Private Contingency-Fee Lawyers

  • Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Endo”) filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the New Hampshire AG’s use of private contingency-fee lawyers to investigate opioid manufacturers in the case Endo Pharms. Inc. v. New Hampshire, No. 17-633 (filed Oct. 27, 2017).
  • In 2015, the New Hampshire AG retained outside counsel to represent the AG’s office in an investigation regarding allegedly deceptive marketing of opioid drugs by pharmaceutical manufacturers, who challenged the AG’s use of outside counsel. Endo filed its cert petition in the U.S. Supreme Court after the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled that the pharmaceutical manufacturers lacked standing to challenge the contingency fee arrangement and that the arrangement did not violate the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution because the AG retained ultimate control over the investigation.
  • Endo’s Petition asks the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on whether the Due Process Clause categorically bars states from outsourcing the investigation and prosecution of public claims to private contingency-fee lawyers, who Endo argues have a substantial personal financial stake in the outcome.

State AGs in the News

Colorado Attorney General Announces Bid for Governor in 2018

  • Colorado AG Cynthia Coffman announced her intent to seek the Republican Party’s nomination for Governor of Colorado. Incumbent Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper cannot seek a third consecutive term due to term limits.
  • AG Coffman was first elected AG in 2014. She previously served as Chief Deputy under former Colorado AG John Suthers and as Chief Counsel for former Colorado Governor Bill Owens.
  • AG Coffman joins the Republican Governor’s race with District Attorney George Brauchler, former state Representative Victor Mitchell, state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, and former U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo. The Democratic race includes former President Obama advisor Mike Johnston, former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynne, and U.S. Representative Jared Polis.
FacebookTwitterShare