Attorney General

James Joins Coalition Supporting Immigration Status For Liberians

Attorney General Letitia James is backing an effort that is meant to bar the deportation of Liberian immigrants in the United States who benefit from the Deferred Enforced Departure program.

The coalition, composed of 14 states, filed an amicus brief in support of African Communities Together v. Trump, a lawsuit filed after President Donald Trump’s administration sought to phase out the program.

The program or temporary protected status grants Liberians the ability to remain in the U.S. and the program itself has been in effect since 2007.

Many Liberian immigrants have lived in the United States for decades after fleeing the country during a civil war in 1989.

“Liberian immigrants are essential to the economic and cultural make-up of New York and this nation,” James said.

“Each individual and each family deserves a pathway to citizenship for the country they view as their home, instead of being forced to move to an unfamiliar, unsafe place. I am proud to join this coalition to push back against the Trump Administration’s attempts to terminate the lawful immigration status of long-term residents who came to America seeking safety and protection.”

New York Sues E-Cig Maker JUUL Labs

Attorney General Letitia James’s office on Tuesday announced the filing of a lawsuit against JUUL Labs, the manufacturers of e-cigarette products, over misleading marketing.

The suit, filed in state Supreme Court, compares the company to the efforts of tobacco firms in the past of marketing its products in a way that downplayed the risks of vaping as well as illegally sold products to minors through its website and third-party stores.

The suit is the latest broadside against the vaping industry in New York and nationally. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration is defending a ban on flavored e-cigarette tobacco in court after an administrative action was stalled.

“There can be no doubt that JUUL’s aggressive advertising has significantly contributed to the public health crisis that has left youth in New York and across the country addicted to its products,” James said in a statement.

“By glamorizing vaping, while at the same time downplaying the nicotine found in vaping products, JUUL is putting countless New Yorkers at risk. I am prepared to use every legal tool in our arsenal to protect the health and safety of our youth.”

New York officials allege the company’s ad campaign, using colorful images and attractive models, was meant to appeal to kids and target an underage demographic.

At the same time, officials allege the company reached out to high school students on vaping, and a JUUL representative claimed its products were safer to use than cigarettes.

Cuomo has pledged to propose legislation to crack down on vaping usage in the state, especially among young people, amid an outbreak of illnesses linked to vaping. There have been 42 deaths national and more than 2,000 people sickened in illnesses believed to be tied to vaping.

James Calls For Forgiveness Of ITT Tech Student Loans

Attorney General Letitia James’s office on Wednesday backed an effort calling on the federal Department of Education to forgive the loans of former students of ITT Tech, which filed bankruptcy and closed.

James signed onto a letter with 22 attorneys general that was sent to Federal Student Aid Chief Operating Officer Mark Brown..

The letter urged the Department of Education to comply with federal regulations that require it to automatically discharge loans for borrowers who have enrolled at closed schools and have not continued their education elsewhere.

“The Department of Education’s neglect has saddled students across the country with approximately half a billion dollars in additional student loan debt,” James said.

“Unfortunately, school closures often leave students worse off than when they enrolled — stuck with debt, no diploma, and without enhanced career prospects. For these borrowers and their families, discharge of federal loans is extremely important, which is why I am committed to ensuring that all eligible ITT students receive the closed-school discharge relief they deserve.”

The coalition of AGs says there are an estimated 52,000 former students of ITT Tech who are eligible for more than $800 million loan relief.

ITT Tech had campuses in Albany, Liverpool, and Getzville and 149 sites across the country.

Trump Ordered To Pay $2M In Damages In AG’s Foundation Case

President Donald Trump on Thursday was ordered to pay $2 million in damages after it was found his charity was being improperly used to promote his candidacy in the 2016 election.

The damages ordered by a federal judge come after New York Attorney General Letitia James’s lawsuit contended the Trump Foundation misused funds to promote Trump’s bid for the White House. The foundation later shuttered as a result of the lawsuit.

“The Trump Foundation has shut down, funds that were illegally misused are being restored, the president will be subject to ongoing supervision by my office, and the Trump children had to undergo compulsory training to ensure this type of illegal activity never takes place again,” James said.

“The court’s decision, together with the settlements we negotiated, are a major victory in our efforts to protect charitable assets and hold accountable those who would abuse charities for personal gain. My office will continue to fight for accountability because no one is above the law — not a businessman, not a candidate for office, and not even the President of the United States.”

The fine comes as Jame’s office is seeking final stipulations to end the suit, including ordering Trump to acknowledge funds from the charity were misused and agree to future restrictions on charitable service and reporting if he creates a new foundation.

James Cheers Expedited Timetable For Opioid Trial

New York’s lawsuit against multiple opioid manufacturers is being moved to Jan. 20 — a full two months ahead of the original schedule.

Attorney General Letitia James cheered the schedule change, which comes after several high-profile settlements and rulings involving states and opioid manufacturers worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

“For more than two decades, the opioid epidemic has wreaked havoc on New Yorkers and Americans across the nation,” James said. “After all these years of death and destruction, come January, the actions of the manufacturers and distributors of these deadly drugs will be presented in open court and laid bare for the American people. We are committed to holding those responsible for a role in the opioid crisis accountable and will not stop fighting for justice for victims.”

James’s office filed a lawsuit in March against manufacturers and distributors of opioids. Those named in the suit include Purdue Pharma, the Sackler Family and Janssen Pharmaceuticals and its parent company Johnson & Johnson. Mallinckrodt LLC and its affiliates, Endo Health Solutions and its affiliates, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. and its affiliates, and Allergan Finance, LLC.

New York And California Sue Over Rolling Back Light Bulb Standards

The decision to rollback energy efficiency standards for light bulbs is not a bright idea, according to a new lawsuit filed on Monday by a coalition led by attorneys general in New York and California.

The coalition, which also includes New York City, is suing over the decision, arguing it would unlawfully hinder the adoption of energy efficiency benchmarks, as well as undermine state and local energy policies while hiking costs for consumers and the environment.

The suit is being led by New York Attorney General Letitia James and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

“The Trump Administration’s not-so-bright idea to rollback light bulb energy efficiency standards is an obvious attempt to line the pockets of energy executives while simultaneously increasing pollution and raising energy bills for consumers,” James said.

“The United States cannot and will not be the exception to the international movement to phase out the inefficient, unnecessary, and costly use of incandescent bulbs. My office will continue to work with our partner states and municipalities to reverse this action, save New Yorkers money on electricity bills, and cut climate change emissions by reducing the coal and gas burned in power plants.”

The regulations at the heart of the legal challenge are meant to address what plaintiffs say are less stringent standards for light bulbs, a move that had been set in motion by President Barack Obama’s administration.

The suit argues the rollback of the Obama-era regulations are in violation of environmental law and the Administrative Procedure Act.

AG James ‘Confident’ In Defense Of Green Light Law

Attorney General Tish James says she’s confident her office will be successful in defending New York State’s new Green Light law.

Erie, Niagara and Rensselaer counties have all brought similar challenges to the law which grants driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. Litigation for the Erie County case is already underway.

Earlier this month, a federal judge heard oral arguments in Buffalo.

“Given the fact that there are 12 states plus the District of Columbia that have similar laws and because we are a sovereign state and we have responsibility over the safety of our laws and the rules of the road, we believe we will be victorious in the end,” James said.

Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns argued the law puts him in a situation in which he either faces the threat of federal prosecution for harboring “illegal immigrants” or the governor removing him from office if he chooses not to process the licenses. Kearns has been clear, regardless of the outcome of this case, he will not follow the Green Light law.

James, in Buffalo for an unrelated press conference, seemed unimpressed.

“I’ve read his papers and I cannot sympathize with his position and I look forward to having that case dismissed,” James said.

The judge said she planned to issue a decision around mid-November. She could rule on whether to throw out the case as the AG’s office has asked and whether to grant an injunction, halting implementation of the law until it’s fully litigated. The law is supposed to go into effect next month.

James-Led Facebook Investigation Gains National Support

A cross section of attorneys general from around the country are joining an anti-trust investigation of Facebook led by Attorney General Letitia James, her office on Tuesday announced.

The probe, which is reviewing Facebook’s influence in online advertising, publishing and data risk, is backed by 47 state attorneys general, including James’s office.

The investigation includes a leadership team of AGs from Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia.

“After continued bipartisan conversations with attorneys general from around the country, today I am announcing that we have vastly expanded the list of states, districts, and territories investigating Facebook for potential antitrust violations,” James said.

“Our investigation now has the support of 47 attorneys general from around the nation, who are all concerned that Facebook may have put consumer data at risk, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, and increased the price of advertising. As we continue our investigation, we will use every investigative tool at our disposal to determine whether Facebook’s actions stifled competition and put users at risk.”

The investigation comes at an increasingly perilous time for Facebook, which has been viewed skeptically by lawmakers in both parties for its role in political advertising and persuasion, as well as concerns from conservatives the company has purposefully downplayed right-leaning voices.

Facebook announced on Monday it removed content believed to be generated by Russians targeting the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Cuomo Signs Bill Ending ‘Loophole’ For Those With Presidential Pardons

A bill that would enable New York prosecutors to bring cases against those who have received presidential pardons was signed into law on Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office announced.

“No one is above the law and New York will not turn a blind eye to criminality, no matter who seeks to protect them,” Cuomo said.

“The closure of this egregious loophole gives prosecutors the ability to stand up against any abuse of power, and helps ensure that no politically motivated, self-serving action is sanctioned under law. I thank the Attorney General for her work to advance this much-needed reform and by signing it into law we are taking another step toward a stronger, fairer and more just Empire State for all.”

The bill was proposed as a workaround of sorts in case President Donald Trump were to pardon any individuals associated with him who are also facing potential charges in New York.

The measure was sought by Attorney General Letitia James amid investigations of the president’s financial dealings by her office as well as a probe by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that individuals who commit crimes under New York state law are held accountable for those crimes,” James said.

“This critical new law closes a gaping loophole that could have allowed any president to abuse the presidential pardon power by unfairly granting a pardon to a family member or close associate and possibly allow that individual to evade justice altogether. No one is above the law, and this commonsense measure will provide a reasonable and necessary check on presidential power today and for all presidents to come.”

The bill was initially proposed as President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, would receive a presidential pardon following money laundering and fraud convictions. But an amended version of the bill would only allow prosecutes to seek charges against those who have worked for a sitting president or were part of their family.

The measure was sponsored by Sen. Todd Kaminsky and Assemblyman Joe Lentol.

James Defends Asylum Access In Court Brief

Attorney General Letitia James in a court brief with fellow attorneys general on Tuesday pushed back against a rule change that would limit immigrants receiving access to the legal asylum process.

The rule would, with some exceptions, hinder the ability of immigrants entering the country at the southern border from applying for asylum protection in the United States.

“America has always stood as a beacon of hope for those seeking refuge from war and terror at home, and, under our watch, we will fight to ensure that we stay true to who we are as a nation,” James said.

“While children and families flee persecution, the Trump Administration continues to use them as pawns in their game of political chess. The message embodied by the Statue of Liberty is clear: ‘from her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome.’ This country is open to all, not just those the president and his Administration deem acceptable.”

The brief came after 18 attorneys general from around the country, including New York, wrote a letter in August opposing the new rule.

The brief argues the rule change is in violation of federal law and would force those seeking asylum to go through an ultimately fruitless process.