Attorney General

AG’s Office Questions House GOP’s Subpoena Power

The latest missive from Attorney General Eric Shcneiderman’s office to a Republican-led House panel released on Tuesday questions the legality of a subpoena issued by the committee to force the release of documents related to an investigation of ExxonMobil.

The letter comes on the eve of a House hearing on the legality of the subpoenas issued by the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology to Schneiderman’s office over the investigation over whether major energy companies downplayed the risks of climate change.

Republicans have suggested the multi-state investigation stems from Democratic attorneys general being influence by campaign contributors.

But the letter from Schneiderman counsel Leslie Dubeck questions whether congressional lawmakers have any oversight to begin with over a state AG’s investigation.

“As stated in prior objections, the Subpoena raises serious federalism concerns,” Dubeck wrote. “Nothing in the Committee’s ‘long history’ of research history… supports the idea that the committee can wield oversight over state law enforcement officials in such an unrestrained fashion.”

The effort by the House GOP as a “draining of state and federal taxpayer resource,” Dubeck wrote, adding the AG’s office hopes it ends soon.

2016 09 13 NYOAG Letter to SST Prehearing by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Schneiderman Launches Probe Of EpiPen Maker

After widespread outrage over the soaring price of the EpiPen, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Tuesday announced he had launched of an anti-trust investigation into the company that manufacturers the autoinjector.

Schneiderman in a statement said the review will focus on Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s decision to hike the cost of the the EpiPen, which generally sold for under $100 to nearly $600 as a potential violation of anti-competitive business laws.

“No child’s life should be put at risk because a parent, school, or healthcare provider cannot afford a simple, life-saving device because of a drug-maker’s anti-competitive practices,” Schneiderman said.

“If Mylan engaged in anti-competitive business practices, or violated antitrust laws with the intent and effect of limiting lower cost competition, we will hold them accountable. Allergy sufferers have enough concerns to worry about—the availability of life-saving medical treatment should not be one of them. I will bring the full resources of my office to this critical investigation.”

The Epi Pen issue has proved to be fodder for candidates in the current election cycle. Republican Sen. Kemp Hannon, the chairman of the chamber’s Health Committee, called last month for Schneiderman to investigate the company.

At the same time, Democratic U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer’s opponent, GOP candidate Wendy Long, called on the state’s senior senator to return his donations from a PAC linked to the company.

Judge Tosses Citizens United’s Donor Dislcosure Suit

An effort by Citizens United to block the state from enforcing donor disclosure rules has been tossed by a federal court judge on Monday, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office announce.

“Today’s decision is a victory for common sense oversight of New York’s vast nonprofit sector,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “New Yorkers deserve to know their donations are protected against fraud and abuse, and today the court protected that right by dismissing each and every one of Citizen United’s claims.”

The court found the attorney general’s office did not violate the non-profit organization’s constitutional rights in requiring they disclose their largest donors before they seek funds.

The conservative group, which was the plaintiff in a successful Supreme Court court challenging limits to independent spending ushering in the super PAC era, had argued that disclosing donors would incur backlash against them.

The decision comes as new donor disclosure requirements for non-profit groups is taking effect in New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed that measure, widely considered to be the chief ethics bill this year, into law earlier this month.

Citizens United Opinion by Nick Reisman on Scribd

In GOP Review Of Exxon Case, AG’s Office Calls For Democratic Involvement

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office on Thursday continued to question the legitimacy of a review by House Republicans into an investigation over whether ExxonMobile understated the impact of climate change.

In letter sent to the chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Schneiderman’s office called on the panel to include Democratic lawmakers into the review.

Up until this point, Democratic members of the panel haven’t been part of the committee’s investigation into the climate change case, nor did they vote to subpoena records related to the efforts by Schneiderman’s office and other attorneys general around the country.

“Accordingly, the NYOAG requests the Minority Staff be included on all correspondence from and substantive communication with the Committee and its staff,” Schneiderman’s office wrote in the letter. “The NYOAG remains available to speak with committee staff, so long as Minority Staff is not excluded from such discussions.”

The letter also questions why a congressional committee would subpoena a state attorney general for an ongoing investigation, something Schneiderman’s office says is unprecedented.

Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, the chairman of the committee, has questioned whether the investigation into ExxonMobile was urged by environmental activists groups and is reviewing whether they played any role in launching it.

2016 08 18 – NYOAG Letter to SST Re Minority Participation by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Maryland AG Pushes House GOP To End Review Of Climate Change Probe

The attorney general of Maryland last week sent a letter to the chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee urging him to end a review of investigations being conducted by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman into ExxonMobile Corp.

House Republicans have sought records from both Schneiderman and the offices of the Massachusetts and Maryland attorneys general pertaining to the probe of whether ExxonMobile understated the impact of climate change from its operations.

In the letter to Rep. Lamar Smith, Frosh writes the House inquiry into the investigation is interfering with the work of the state attorneys general.

“Our colleagues in Massachusetts and New York, as the chief legal officers in their states, have a right to gather information necessary to determine whether a company has engaged in fraudulent or misleading conduct harmful to the residents of their respective states,” said Maryland Attorney General Frosh.

“Chairman Smith’s threat to ‘conduct vigorous oversight’ of Attorneys General who are investigating violations of consumer and securities laws is an attack on the sovereignty of the states.”

Schneiderman and his fellow AGs have refused to cooperate with subpoenas issued by the House panel.

Smith has pushed for the investigation of the attorneys generals’ handling of the ExxonMobile case, suggesting they are being unduly influenced by environmental activist groups.

Lamar Smith Letter by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Schneiderman: Half Dozen Companies Alter Zika Marketing After Complaints

Six of the seven companies ordered by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office to end their practice of marketing their products as “Zika-preventive” have changed their advertising following cease and desist letters.

Schniederman on Thursday announced the marketing claims had been altered, a day after the attorney general’s office publicly pushed for the changes.

The companies that manufacturer mosquito repellent had claimed their products would protect users from contracting the Zika virus, but were not effective for that purpose.

“I am pleased that the action my office undertook has led to the immediate removal of nearly all the deceptive Zika-related claims that we targeted,” Schneiderman said.

“We won’t let fraudsters take advantage of a public health crisis, and this should serve as a warning to other companies who seek to engage in the same dishonest practices. I urge consumers to educate themselves about the repellents that will actually protect you against Zika to avoid being fooled by these outrageous scams.”

Schneiderman’s office said some of the companies complying with the cease and desist letters have removed their products from being sold online.

AG’s Office Rebukes House Panel In ExxonMobil Probe

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office on Monday blasted the effort by a Republican-led congressional committee to subpoena documents related to an investigation by the state into ExxonMobil.

In the letter to Rep. Lamar Smith, the chairmna of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, a top counsel to Schneiderman reiterated the attorney general’s office won’t comply with a threatened subpoena, insisting claims the AG is trying to concoct an alternative purpose for the investigation is “demonstrably false.”

The counsel, Leslie Dubeck, also wrote the documents from the attorney general’s office won’t be handed over voluntarily.

At the same time, Dubeck questioned why Republicans were becoming involved in a state-based investigation.

“Finally, we urge you to heed Ranking Member Johnson’s request and provide an opportunity for all Committee members to express their views before issuing a subpoena and courting constitutional conflict,” the letter states. “Certainly a due respect for federalism would at least demand that a representative from Texas, acting on his own, not be allowed to compel action from a constitutional officer of a sovereign state.”

Schneiderman’s office also sought to point out what New York officials believe are contradictions in why the House committee is demanding the information related to the ExxonMobil probe.

Schneiderman, along with attorneys general from around the country, announced plans in March to investigate whether the oil company misled investors when making claims about climate change.

2016 7 13 – NYOAG Further Response to House SST Committee by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Schneiderman Hails Supreme Court Ruling In Texas Abortion Case

A ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down a Texas measure that could have led to the closure of dozens of abortion clinics in the state was hailed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a statement.

The ruling released on Monday in a 5-3 decision is being considered by advocates on both sides of the abortion debate as one of the most consequential in a generation from the high court.

Schneiderman had previously submitted a friend-of-the-court brief along with 13 other states and the District of Columbia in opposing the Texas law, which could have reduced the number of facilities providing abortion services in the state from 41 to 10.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision striking down Texas’s unconstitutional and disingenuous abortion restrictions is a landmark victory for women’s health and definitively rejects the state of Texas’s spurious claims that their draconian restrictions protected women’s health,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

“This ruling, the most significant abortion decision in a generation, puts states on notice that they cannot adopt restrictions that unduly burden or deny a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.”

The Texas regulations governing buildings, equipment and staffing, as well as requiring doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, have already been credited with the closure of half the clinics in the state.

Schneiderman Settles With Law360 Over Non-Compete Clauses

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Wednesday announced his office had reached a settlement with Law360 to end the practice of non-compete agreements for the vast majority of its employees.

The settlement for Law360, which is a subsidiary of LexisNexis, will not longer require editorial employees sign on to non-compete agreements, which prevented them for one year after leaving the company to work for a media outlet that provides legal news for up to one year.

“Unless an individual has highly unique skills or access to trade secrets, non-compete clauses have no place in a worker’s employment contract,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

“Unscrupulous non-compete agreements not only threaten workers seeking to change jobs, they also serve as a veiled threat to employers who may be reluctant to hire candidates due to the mere existence of a non-compete agreement. Workers like the reporters at Law360 should be able to change jobs and advance their careers without fear of being sued by their prior employer.”

The agreement does not apply to a “small number” of top executives at the company, and Law360 is expected to notify all current employees and those who left within the last year the non-compete clauses are no longer in effect.

Aod – Oag and Pmi Signed by Nick Reisman

AG Investigators Searches SUNY Poly Office

An office used by a law firm that had employed lobbyist Todd Howe at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Albany was searched on Thursday by investigators from state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office amid investigations in economic development projects in New York, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

SUNY Poly confirmed the search in a statement.

“SUNY Poly cooperated fully today with the NYAG’s office request to search an office previously used by Todd Howe at our Albany campus,” SUNY Poly said in a statement. “We continue to cooperate fully with their investigation.“

The raid was first reported by Gannett’s Albany bureau.

The AG’s office has been investigating possible bid rigging at SUNY Poly’s development arm, Fuller Road Management.

Howe is an intersecting figure in the ongoing state and federal investigations into economic development projects, including the signature western New York effort known as the Buffalo Billion.

Howe had represented a number of companies with business before the Buffalo Billion and was listed as a lobbyist for SUNY Poly, which plays a key role in distributing economic development spending.

A former aide and confidant to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Joe Percoco, is under scrutiny as well after it was revealed he received payments from two companies with business in economic development projects while running the governor’s re-election campaign.

On Wednesday, the state Public Authorities Control Board approved an additional $485.5 million in spending for a cornerstone Buffalo Billion project at the RiverBend site, home to a SolarCity plant.

Cuomo has retained an independent investigator to review contracting and investigate the program.