CWAG Holds Record Breaking Annual Meeting in Kona, Hawaii

By Chris Coppin, CWAG Legal Director

The Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) held its Annual Meeting at the Fairmont Orchid resort in Kona, Hawaii, July 10 - 13 under the leadership of CWAG Chair Gary King, New Mexico Attorney General, and host Attorney General David Louie of Hawaii. The meeting was attended by a record 650 people, including 30 Attorneys General, primary registrants, spouses, children and guests.

CWAG held its annual business meeting and elected South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley to serve on the executive committee. He joins Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock (chair), Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (vice chair) and Attorney General King (past chair) on the executive committee.

The agenda was led by Attorney General King’s CWAG Chair Initiative, highlighting CWAG’s Alliance Partnership activities. It included panel discussions on border issues, including human trafficking, money laundering, counterfeit goods and immigration. The human trafficking panel featured Attorneys General King, Greg Abbott of Texas, Rob McKenna of Washington, Leonardo Rapadas of Guam, Ambassador Mark Lagon and state’s Attorney Anita Alvarez of Cook County, Ill. The panel addressed the plight of the victims of human trafficking and recent state law developments to increase punishment. The immigration panel speakers were Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne and Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. They discussed the policy considerations behind each state’s decision to enact new laws addressing undocumented aliens and the status of litigation challenging those laws.

Other panels addressed topics of interest to the West, including Indian law, public lands, agriculture and the environment. Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs and past Idaho Attorney General Larry EchoHawk discussed the recent Tribal Law and Order Act and how states can work with their federal and tribal partners to address crime in Indian country. Deputy Solicitor Ed Kneedler of the U.S. Department of Justice and former Hawaiian Attorney General Mark Bennett discussed recent U.S. Supreme Court cases involving the environment and preemption. Attorneys General King and Lawrence Wasden of Idaho updated the attendees on litigation they are involved in to enhance the proceeds from state lands to benefit education. Panels also addressed national topics of interest, including state taxes on Internet commerce, for profit schools, state laws to protect intellectual property, debt collection, third party litigation finance, prescription drug abuse, privacy, Internet search engines and ethics. Professor Jesse Choper again provided an outstanding luncheon presentation on the just completed term of the U.S. Supreme Court.

CWAG honored Washington Chief Deputy Brian Moran with the Nelson Kempsky Management Award for his outstanding management skills as demonstrated in the Washington Attorney General’s Office and nationally through NAAG and the chief deputies. Alaska Chief Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Barry was awarded the Jim Jones Award for her many years of service to the citizens of Alaska in the area of natural resources litigation and her work with other Western states through the Western Attorneys General Litigation Action Committee.

CWAG also held special briefings for Attorneys General and their staff on CWAG’s Alliance Partnership program. The program trains prosecutors and investigators from Mexican state attorneys general offices as Mexico transitions to an oral trial system as opposed to paper trials in the ongoing fight against drug cartels.

The CWAG website, www.cwagweb.org, contains the full agenda and links to view the panel discussions. The next CWAG Annual Meeting will be in Anaheim, Calif., from July 22 - 25, 2012.

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CWAG panel led by Gary King, New Mexico Attorney General.