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NAAG Spring Meeting Draws 52 Attorneys General

NAAG held its annual Spring Meeting March 7 - 9 in Washington, D.C., and it was unprecedented in two ways. First, an hour before the meeting officially kicked-off, a group of demonstrators gathered in front of the NAAG registration area and rallied to convey their message to Attorneys General about banks and mortgage fraud. Tam Ormiston, Iowa chief policy deputy, was the hero of the day by inviting the group to follow him outside the hotel where he would talk with them. The sight put everyone in mind of the story of the pied piper!

Later, as the meeting began with opening remarks from NAAG President and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and Acting Attorney General Irvin Nathan of the District of Columbia as the host, the second unprecedented event took place. A record 52 Attorneys General had gathered to participate in the Spring Meeting.

Attorneys General George Jepsen of Connecticut and Chris Koster of Missouri, NAAG Antitrust Committee co-chairs, hosted a breakfast which included guest speakers Jon Leibowitz, Federal Trade Commission chair, and Christine Varney, assistant attorney general, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The Monday plenary session began with an Attorney General Roundtable discussion led by President Cooper and highlighted the issues, ideas, and initiatives in individual Attorneys General offices. The Roundtable was followed by an Election Law panel and then Inez Tenenbaum, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission chairman, described Attorneys General enforcement authority under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller provided an update to the Attorneys General over the mortgage foreclosure multistate investigation and settlement negotiations. Following the plenary session, the Society of Attorneys General Emeritus (SAGE) Co-Chairs Mike Cody and Stephen Merrill convened the SAGE business meeting during which a formal resolution on SAGE governance was adopted. This was followed by the very popular and traditional SAGE reception.

The second day began with a presentation by former Ohio Attorney General and now team lead of the Enforcement Division of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Richard Cordray who spoke to the Attorneys General about the CFPB and the role of the Attorneys General under the founding legislation. The Attorneys General next heard from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder who spoke about the current and future partnership efforts between the U.S. DOJ and state Attorneys General. Attorneys General Jim Hood of Mississippi and Rob McKenna of Washington then moderated a panel on intellectual property (IP) and the health and safety concerns of IP theft. The ever popular U.S. Supreme Court Luncheon featured NAAG’s own Dan Schweitzer moderating a spirited discussion between Theodore Olson and Walter Dellinger over cases considered this term. The afternoon featured a panel on parallel proceedings moderated by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and included former Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox. The day was rounded out by a tobacco update from Tobacco Committee Co-Chair Attorney General Dustin McDaniel of Arkansas, a presentation on “Jobs for America’s Graduates” led by Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock, and a BCS update by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. The evening brought the annual NAAG Supreme Court reception.

The final day began early with two breakfast meetings. The first was hosted by Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange and featured discussions between the Gulf Coast Attorneys General and representatives from U.S. DOJ, including U.S. Associate Attorney General Thomas Perelli and U.S. Assistant Attorney General Tony West. At the same time, JB Kelly, general counsel, North Carolina Attorney General’s Office, was hosting a breakfast meeting between the chief deputies/chiefs of staff and Richard Cordray of the CFPB.

The morning plenary session started with three presentations by partnering organizations: the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Jason Foundation, and Fight Crime Invest in Kids. Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services then presented on efforts to combat the unauthorized practice of immigration law. The plenary session ended with a presentation by Attorney General McKenna on Medicaid and Prescription Drug Abuse. President Cooper concluded the meeting with a reminder for people to register and attend his Presidential Initiative Summit in Charlotte, N.C., April 11-12. It is focusing on fighting financial fraud.

Planning is now underway by the Attorney General Planning Committee for the NAAG Summer Meeting, June 20 – 23, hosted by Attorney General Lisa Madigan in Chicago, Ill.

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NAAG Leadership with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (center).

Richard Cordray, left, of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Implementation Team, talks with Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris, left, was one of 19 new Attorneys General attending the NAAG Spring Meeting.