Squire Patton Boggs’ State Attorneys General Practice Group is comprised of lawyers who have served at senior levels in state AG offices around the country and whose practices focus, to one degree or another, on representing clients before these increasingly assertive and powerful, yet often overlooked, government agencies, as explained in detail here.
In these updates, we will call attention to the most noteworthy state AG news or developments emerging in the previous week.
A February 6 article in The New York Times, How Attorneys General Became Democrats’ Bulwark Against Trump (link), discusses how, with “Republicans in control of the White House and Congress, Democrats have increasingly looked to the states both to challenge Mr. Trump’s policies and to enforce federal regulations, including on business and the environment, that is administration may ignore.” Democratic state attorneys general have “gear[ed] up to play a larger role in national politics,” and several AGs have “cited as an inspiration the long-running legal war waged against the Obama administration by Republican attorneys general, who derailed key White House policies on immigration and nearly voided the Affordable Care Act,” according to the article. The article notes, for example, how the Trump Administration’s immigration executive order “spurred swift legal actions from five states in four federal courts,” including a suit from Washington AG Bob Ferguson in which “a federal judge’s ruling . . . froze, at least temporarily, the carrying out of a travel ban.” On February 9, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied the government’s emergency request to reinstate the “travel ban,” according to a CNN report.
Florida AG Pam Bondi has announced federal court approval of proposed consent judgments that “resolve allegations that the defendant [Florida-based] debt relief companies targeted individuals deeply in debt with promises of lower credit card payments and substantial savings and collected upfront fees for the promised services, but never delivered on those services or provided refunds,” according to a news release. According to the news release, the defendant debt relief companies “allegedly worked with payment processors to create more than two dozen shell merchants to process credit card payments,” and “allegedly created these fake businesses to act as fronts and launder the illegal transactions, ultimately taking more than $12 million from consumers.” Under the settlement, the debt relief service companies are “permanently banned from conducting outbound telemarketing and selling or advertising any debt relief product or service,” and the payment processors are “permanently banned from the payment processing industry,” among other remedies, according to the news release.