Each week, Crowell & Moring’s State Attorneys General team highlights significant actions that State AGs have taken. Here are this week’s updates.
Meet the New North Dakota Attorney General – Drew Wrigley
- On February 8, 2022, Governor Doug Burgum appointed former U.S. attorney and lieutenant governor Drew Wrigley to serve out the remainder of Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s term after his sudden passing on January 28. The four-year term ends December 31, 2022. Wrigley was sworn in the following day. Wrigley served as North Dakota’s U.S. attorney from 2001 to 2009 and again from 2019 to 2021. He served as lieutenant governor for six years under former Governor Jack Dalrymple, having been appointed to the role in 2010 and winning an election to a four-year term with Dalrymple in 2012. He completed a year-long judicial clerkship in Delaware and served for five years as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia, prosecuting a variety of crimes. Wrigley served as deputy chief of staff for then-Governor John Hoeven in 2000-2001. Most recently, he worked as counsel with his family’s Fargo contracting firms, Wrigley Mechanical Inc. and BDT Mechanical LLC. He earned bachelor’s degrees in economics and philosophy from the University of North Dakota and his law degree from American University’s Washington College of Law.
- A coalition of 20 attorneys general submitting comments in support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to strengthen regulations of emissions from new, modified and reconstructed facilities in the oil and natural gas sector. Under the proposal, the EPA would also, for the first time, regulate emissions from existing facilities in this sector. The EPA estimates that the proposed regulations will reduce emissions of methane by 41 million tons, volatile organic compounds by 12 million tons, and hazardous air pollutants by 480,000 tons between 2023 and 2035.
- Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced an investigation into GoFundMe for potential violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Supporters of the truckers’ protest against vaccine mandates in Ottawa, Canada, have donated more than $10 million dollars through the crowdfunding platform, GoFundMe. Because the company disagrees with the protest, it recently announced that it would unilaterally end the fundraiser and either refund the money given by the donors or redirect those funds to other causes.
- Attorney General Rob Bonta sent a letter to Center for Covid Control (CCC) requesting that it provide information substantiating representations and claims CCC has made to potential California customers about its COVID-19 testing services. CCC has had its name associated with nearly 300 COVID-19 testing centers nationwide. The letter is part of an investigation into complaints that CCC’s customers did not receive test results within the advertised timeframes, if at all, as well as concerns about the accuracy of the test results given and the collection of protected health information for services that were never provided.
- Attorney General Phil Weiser announced a settlement with Measure, Inc, a crowdfunded Colorado mask company, which will offer refunds to Coloradans who supported its crowdfunding campaigns to develop a product that would eliminate 99% of pathogens to protect customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Attorney General Weiser alleged that Measure neglected to honor its satisfaction guarantee when customers later requested refunds. As of Oct. 16, 2021, the company had 34,065 backers who pledged $4,194,731 across both crowdfunding sites. A total of 425 of those backers were Coloradans, who pledged a combined $89,000. The company will also pay $100,000 to the State of Colorado, and an additional $50,000, should it fail to comply with the refund process.
- Acting New Jersey Attorney General Andrew J Bruck announced that the Bureau of Securities has issued a Summary Cease and Desist Order to stop BlockFi, a financial services company, from selling unregistered securities in the form of interest-earning cryptocurrency accounts that have raised at least $14.7 billion worldwide. According to the Order the Bureau issued, BlockFi, Inc., through its affiliates BlockFi Lending, LLC, and BlockFi Trading, LLC, has been funding its cryptocurrency lending operations and proprietary trading at least in part through the sale of unregistered securities in violation of the Securities Law. BlockFi agreed to pay $50 million to the 53 NASAA member agencies and $50 million to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The 53 NASAA member agencies will share equally in their half of the settlement, with each receiving $943,396.22 after executing the appropriate consent orders.
- Attorney General Leticia James announced that ClearMD Health and Sameday Health, private COVID-19 testing labs, will refund more than $400,000 to consumers who were charged for expedited COVID-19 tests but received results later than the promised time frame.
- Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed a civil complaint and consent decree against Andre Doroshin, Director and CEO of Philly Fighting COVID, Inc., for violating Pennsylvania consumer protection, charitable solicitation, and nonprofit corporation laws. The complaint alleges that Doroshin put people’s privacy at risk under the guise of serving as a nonprofit. The consent decree has been submitted to the court and awaits approval. Under the terms of the agreement, Doroshin and his associates cannot govern, control, administer, or possess charitable assets or solicit charitable donations of any kind in Pennsylvania for 10 years. Doroshin is also prevented from deriving any financial benefit from any insurance company, government agency, or third party through the database of consumer health information obtained through COVIDReadi and the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine, and must immediately destroy all personal health information gathered through the course of Philly Fighting COVID’s COVIDReadi pre-registration service. Doroshin must also dissolve Philly Fighting COVID, Inc., within 90 days of the court’s approval and is incentivized to pay the $30,000 in restitution by Monday, Sept. 5, 2022, to avoid an additional $30,000 in costs and penalties. Should the defendants violate the terms of the settlement, they will be jointly liable to the Commonwealth for more than $700K in penalties and costs.