The State AG Report Weekly Update November 16, 2017

AG Elections

Democrat Justin Nelson Launches Campaign for Texas Attorney General

  • Democrat Justin Nelson declared his candidacy for Texas AG seeking to unseat incumbent Republican AG Ken Paxton, who is running for reelection in 2018.
  • Nelson is a partner in a Houston law firm where he specializes in civil litigation, and he previously clerked for former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
  • Nelson is the first Democrat to announce his intention to run for AG. The candidate filing deadline is December 11, 2017.

Republican George Brauchler Announces Bid for Colorado Attorney General

  • Republican George Brauchler, the District Attorney for Colorado’s 18th Judicial District, announced his bid for Colorado AG in 2018.
  • As previously reported, Colorado AG Cynthia Coffman announced her intent to seek the Republican Party’s nomination for Governor of Colorado. Brauchler had announced his intent to run for Governor of Colorado but switched his bid to the now-open AG race following AG Coffman’s gubernatorial announcement.
  • Brauchler is the sole Republican to enter the AG race and has been endorsed by the Republican Attorneys General Association (“RAGA”). The Democratic candidates include former Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy PaddenBrad LevinMichael DoughertyPhil Weiser, and state Representative Joe Salazar.

Republican Thomas Neuberger Declares Candidacy for Delaware Attorney General

  • Republican Thomas Neuberger, an attorney in private practice, announced his candidacy for the Delaware AG race in 2018.
  • As previously reported, Delaware AG Matt Denn announced in August on his public Facebook page that he will not seek re-election in 2018, making Delaware an open seat.
  • Neuberger is the only Republican to enter the race to-date. As previously reported, at present the sole Democratic candidate is Tim Mullaney, Sr., who served as Chief of Staff to the late AG Beau Biden.

Antitrust

Missouri Attorney General Issues Investigative Subpoenas to Major Internet Search Engine to Examine Business Practices

  • Missouri AG Josh Hawley has issued investigative subpoenas to Internet search engine Google, Inc. regarding whether the company violated the state’s consumer protection statute (the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act) or state antitrust laws.
  • According to the AG’s office, the business practices in question are Google’s alleged collection, use, and disclosure of information about its users; misappropriation of online content from the websites of its competitors; and manipulation of search results to give preference to Google and demote its competitors.
  • As previously reported, Mississippi AG Jim Hood filed a lawsuit earlier this year against Google over its alleged improper collection and use of personal information and search history data from Mississippi public school students.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

CFPB Director, Former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray Resigns

  • According to reports, the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) Richard Cordray announced his resignation on Wednesday, stating that he will leave the agency by the end of November. Cordray was Ohio AG from 2009 until 2011, losing his bid for reelection in 2010 to current AG Mike DeWine.
  • Cordray began serving as the first Director of the CFPB after his recess appointment by President Barack Obama in January 2012 and subsequent confirmation to a five-year term in July 2013.
  • According to news reports, it is widely speculated that Cordray, a Democrat, will announce his candidacy for Governor of Ohio in 2018. AG DeWine, who is term-limited, announced earlier this year that he would seek the Republican Party’s nomination for Governor.

Medicaid Fraud

Vermont Attorney General Files Bankruptcy Claim Against Drug Treatment Provider To Recoup Medicaid Funds

  • Vermont AG T.J. Donovan’s Medicaid Fraud Unit filed a claim against drug treatment provider Maple Leaf Treatment Associates, Inc. (“Maple Leaf”) in U.S. bankruptcy court to recover $860,000 in allegedly improper Medicaid payments after the provider closed all operations in February 2017 and filed for bankruptcy.
  • According to the Director of the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Unit, Maple Leaf allegedly double-billed $60,000 for urine toxicology screenings and improperly sought Medicaid reimbursements for $800,000 in services for which Maple Leaf did not have enough staff to qualify.

Pharmaceuticals

44 Attorneys General Support Repeal of Federal Law Limiting Drug Agency’s Response to Opioid Epidemic

  • A bipartisan coalition of 44 AGs, organized by the National Association of Attorneys General, sent a letter to Congressional leaders urging them to repeal the federal Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016 to allow the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) to take action against drug manufactures or distributors that allegedly “willfully contributed to the nation’s oversupply of pain killers.”
  • According to the letter, the Act allegedly has created an exceedingly high burden for the DEA to issue suspension orders against a drug manufacturer or distributor whose unlawful conduct poses an “imminent danger to the public health or safety” and has hampered enforcement proceedings by allowing companies to file corrective action plans first.

State AGs in the News

Arkansas Attorney General Is New Chairman of Republican Attorneys General Association

  • According to news reports, Arkansas AG Leslie Rutledge has been elected to serve as Chairman of RAGA. AG Ken Paxton has been elected to serve as the new Vice-Chairman.
  • As previously reported, AG Rutledge—previously Vice-Chairman of RAGA—had succeeded West Virginia AG Patrick Morrisey when he stepped down as RAGA Chairman to focus on his AG duties and his 2018 U.S. Senate campaign.
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