New Attorneys General Orientation and Annual Meeting Held

NAAG held its New Attorneys General Orientation and Fall Annual Meeting in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Nov. 26-29. It is the only NAAG Annual Meeting just for attorneys general, their staff and invited speakers. NAAG President and Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler, and host, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, kicked-off the orientation which featured participation by six newly-elected or appointed attorneys general: Tim Fox of Montana, Joey Patrick San Nicolas of the Northern Mariana Islands, Kathleen G. Kane of Pennsylvania, John Swallow of Utah, and Bob Ferguson of Washington. Attorney General EllenF. Rosenblum of Oregon participated by phone. The orientation was largely taught by sitting attorneys general and included such topics as NAAG support and services, the powers and duties of an attorney general, relationships with the legislature and law enforcement, management of a public law office, multistate litigation, and staff training. A panel of distinguished former attorneys general shared their reflections and advice, as did a panel of very experienced chief deputies. The highlight was a welcome dinner which included over 25 sitting attorneys general welcoming the new attorneys general to the community.

The Fall Annual Meeting began with what has become a NAAG tradition – the CEO luncheon which features a senior executive from the business community sharing his or her thoughts and perspectives. Cutler Dawson, president and CEO of Navy Federal Credit Union, shared his successful leadership philosophy as the head of the largest credit union in the nation. Following lunch, each of the new attorneys general provided brief introductory remarks sharing something about themselves and their vision for their office. The very popular Attorney General Roundtable discussion was led by Attorneys General Bondi and Martha Coakley of Massachusetts, and covered the mortgage settlement, prescription drug abuse, fracking, and human trafficking. The day concluded with a discussion of tobacco-related issues moderated by the NAAG Tobacco Committee co-chairs, Attorney General Chris Koster of Missouri and Attorney General Marty Jackley of South Dakota.

The next morning opened with a breakfast featuring the Israeli Consuls General for Miami and the Southwest United States discussing the issue of sanctions against Iran. Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto moderated the first panel session on combating money laundering, which is part of her initiative as chair of the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG). The second panel was moderated by Attorney General Gansler who led a discussion on “Privacy in the Digital Age,” the topic of his 2012-2013 NAAG presidential initiative. The lively debate between telecommunications industry representatives and attorneys general staff concerning who should regulate Internet privacy was enlightening. Luncheon speakers featured Attorneys General Coakley and Greg Zoeller of Indiana, co-chairs of the NAAG Training Committee, who discussed the importance of the National Attorneys General Training and Research Institute (NAGTRI). The afternoon program began with a panel moderated by Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen on the problems posed by marijuana growing operations on public lands. Four state and federal law enforcement representatives provided their experience and perspective on the issues. Following that panel, Attorney General Bondi provided a briefing on the newly-published NAGTRI Disaster Preparedness manual [See separate article in this issue]. The plenary session ended for the day with a presentation by Director John Morton of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE is an active partner with the attorney general community on a variety of initiatives. Following the conclusion of the meeting, the NAAG Intellectual Property Committee hosted a stakeholder meeting moderated by committee co-chairs, Attorney General Jim Hood of Mississippi and, by phone, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli of Virginia.

The evening’s event featured the bittersweet “Farewell Dinner” honoring the retiring attorneys general. Moderated by Attorney General Gansler, the attorney general community recognized and said good-bye in a formal way to those present: Attorneys General Mark Shurtleff of Utah and Rob McKenna of Washington. Each received a framed, antique state map from the 1800s and an engraved wooden NAAG presentation box. In addition to Attorneys General McKenna and Shurtleff, Attorney General Arthur Ripley, Jr., of American Samoa, Attorney General William Schneider of Maine, Attorney General Steve Bullock of Montana, Attorney General Linda Kelly of Pennsylvania, and Attorney General Darrell V. McGraw, Jr., of West Virginia are also departing at the end of the year.

The final day of the meeting began with an attorneys general panel moderated by Attorney General Tom Miller of Iowa discussing state Freedom of Information Act laws and how different offices comply with and administer their respective regimes. The meeting concluded with a presentation by Bart Johnson, executive director of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Planning is now underway by the Attorney General Planning Committee for the NAAG Winter/Spring Annual Meeting hosted by District of Columbia Attorney General Irvin Nathan in Washington, DC, Feb 25-27. Please go to the NAAG website, www.naag.org for more information and to register. We hope to see everyone there!

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Attorney General-Elect Bob Ferguson (WA), left, with Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood.
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Newly elected and appointed attorneys general talk at the NAAG orientation.
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Newly-elected Attorney General John Swallow (UT) makes a comment during the NAAG orientation.