Each week, Crowell & Moring’s State Attorneys General team highlights significant actions that State AGs have taken. Here are this week’s updates.
Monday, November 29, 2021
- New York Attorney General James issued her annual fundraising report, which revealed that charities using professional fundraisers received about two thirds (73%) of the money donated in 2020, representing a small increase from prior years.
- Arizona Attorney General Brnovich announced a consent judgment against Amazon Home Warranty, LLC, which is not affiliated with Amazon.com. The judgment resolves a lawsuit accusing the company of posting fake five-star reviews, falsely representing it had been in business for almost 10 years, and misleading consumers about its officers’ identity. The judgment includes $105,000 in consumer restitution, $35,000 in civil penalties, $10,000 in attorneys’ fees, and claims administrator costs.
- Senior Assistant Attorney General Wendy Weinberg testified on behalf of Washington D.C. Attorney General Racine in support of Bill 24-357, which would protect consumers from unfair debt collection activity. Among other things, the bill would expand District debt law protections to include credit card and medical debt, cover third-party debt buyers, and prohibit harassment such as communicating with consumers’ employers about their debt. It would also clarify that individuals may not be put in jail for failing to pay a debt.
- A multistate coalition of attorneys general, co-led by California Attorney General Bonta, Maryland Attorney General Frosh, and Massachusetts Attorney General Healey, filed comments in support of the Biden administration’s proposal to rescind rules that would reduce critical habitat designations under the Endangered Species Act. The coalition is asking the Biden administration to quickly rescind the rules and to address habitat degradation and destruction as well as climate change.
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
- Washington D.C. Attorney General Racine announced that online lender Opportunity Financial, LLC has entered a settlement under which it will pay $1.5 million in refunds, waive over $640,000 in interest, pay $250,000 to the District, limit its lending to rates below the legal cap, and stop engaging in misleading practices. The settlement resolves a lawsuit accusing the company of misrepresenting the nature of its high interest loans and charging interest rates significantly above the legal cap.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Healey announced a lawsuit against School Health Corporation for allegedly falsely marketing and selling a hand sanitizer product to school districts and falsely claiming that it could kill the COVID-19 virus without the need for reapplication, when in reality it did not contain hand sanitizer’s key ingredients, such as alcohol. The complaint, which alleges the company violated the Massachusetts False Claims Act, seeks treble damages, civil penalties, and attorneys’ fees and costs.
Wednesday, December 1, 2021
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- New York Attorney General James issued a press release informing consumers of their rights when debt collectors contact them. The press release states that new rules the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau adopted, which became effective on November 30, limit the time and manner in which debt collectors may contact consumers. Additionally, it states that New York’s Consumer Credit Fairness Act, which was signed into law on November 8, provides rights to consumers sued over their debt.
Thursday, December 2, 2021
Criminal Medicaid Fraud
- Georgia Attorney General Carr announced the sentencing of the former owner of The Counseling and Training Center for Medicaid Fraud after the defendant billed for services given by unauthorized providers. The sentencing also includes a $631,843 restitution payment.
Consumer Protection—Consumer Affairs Response Team
- Nebraska Attorney General Peterson announced the launch of his office’s Consumer Affairs Response Team (CART). CART is intended to address the need for a better dispute resolution process between businesses and consumers. Consumers may engage with CART directly to address complaints and identify scams, but the press release states that consumers are expected to make a good faith effort first to resolve the issue directly with the business. It also states that the dispute resolution process is voluntary.
Financial Disclosure Act
- New Mexico Attorney General Balderas announced his support for legislation that would amend the state’s existing Financial Disclosure Act, which requires some public officers to file disclosure statements. The legislation would clarify to whom the Act applies and require specific disclosures of all income sources over $600. It would also widen the scope of required reporting to include information, such as business relationships and positions, as well as gifts.
- Washington D.C. Attorney General Racine announced that his office is taking on a novel role of advocating for racial equity, affordable housing, and environmental justice in land use, zoning, and related processes. Attorney General Racine is asking the Zoning Commission to make inclusionary housing more affordable, expand the zone of required inclusionary housing units, and incentivize affordable housing.
Friday, December 3, 2021
- Colorado Attorney General Weiser issued a statement about the cancellation of a merger that was planned between Great American Outdoors Group and Sportsman’s Warehouse. Great American Outdoors Group owns Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s. Attorney General Weiser believed the merger would have potentially harmed consumers and employees in the state through higher prices, fewer options, and store closures. His office had agreed to join the Federal Trade Commission in a lawsuit to halt the merger.