Attorney General

James Bill Would Penalize Employers Who Threaten Immigration Status

A bill back by Attorney General Letitia James would penalize employers who threaten to reveal the immigration status of a worker to federal authorities.

The measure would add contacting or threatening to contact immigration authorities about a worker’s immigration or citizenship status as unlawful retaliation. The measure would also cover family members of the worker.

James announced the bill on Wednesday, a day after President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in which he called on Congress to back efforts to crackdown on undocumented immigration.

One of the guests at the speech invited by a Democratic lawmaker was an undocumented worker who was fired from Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey.

“New York State was built by immigrants and it has always stood proudly as a beacon of hope and opportunity no matter where you were born,” Jame said. “This legislation will represent a critical step toward protecting some of our most vulnerable workers by ensuring that they are not silenced or punished by threats related to their immigration status.”

Penalties would include a $20,000 fin and up to three months in jail.

James Sues EPA Over Smog Control

Attorney General Letitia James’s office Thursday filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s smog regulations.

The concern is ground-level ozone pollution that enters New York from other states and the EPA’s 2018 “close-out” rule for controlling the smog from states upwind of New York.

The suit is among the first major legal challenges to the Trump administration James has filed since she became attorney general earlier this month.

“Over two-thirds of New Yorkers regularly breathe unhealthy air due to smog pollution,” James said in a statement. “Yet, Trump’s EPA is ignoring the Clean Air Act and refuses to require reductions in the pollution largely responsible for this serious public health risk. My office will stand firm for the quality of air in our state by forcing Trump’s EPA to follow the law and to ensure New Yorkers’ legal right to clean air.”

The suit was filed along with attorneys general in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey as well as the city of New York.

Underwood Reflects On AG Role

Attorney General Barbara Underwood on Friday released a farewell video as she departs the office she assumed earlier this year.

But Underwood is not going far: Attorney General-elect Letitia James in November re-appointed Underwood to her previously held post of solicitor general.

Underwood was appointed attorney general in May by the Legislature after the resignation of Eric Schneiderman amid domestic abuse allegations.

During her time in office, Underwood notched a series of accomplishments including advance court challenges to Trump administration policies on immigration and the environment as well as a shutdown of the charity the president founded after its finances came under scrutiny.

Trump Foundation To Dissolve

The charitable organization founded by President Donald Trump and his family will shutdown, Attorney General Barbara Underwood on Tuesday announced.

The dissolution of the Trump Foundation will be supervised by a judge and follows a court decision last month in which Underwood’s lawsuit against the charity was allowed to move forward.

Dissolving the charity will include a distribution of assets to organizations approved by Underwood’s office.

The suit alleged the foundation was essentially a source of funds to advance both Trump’s business and political efforts.

Despite the charity shutting down, the lawsuit by the New York attorney general’s office will continue.

“This is an important victory for the rule of law, making clear that there is one set of rules for everyone,” Underwood said. “We’ll continue to move our suit forward to ensure that the Trump Foundation and its directors are held to account for their clear and repeated violations of state and federal law.”

AG’s Office Settles With Hospitals That Charged Rape Victims For Exams

Seven New York hospitals illegally billed survivors and victims of rape for forensic examinations at least 200 times at seven different hospitals, according to a settlement announced Thursday by Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s office.

The hospitals, Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center, Columbia University, Montefiore Nyack Hospital, New York Presbyterian/Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Richmond University Medical Center, and St. Barnabas Hospital, will have to put in place written policies to ensure those who have been raped or sexually assaulted do not receive bills for examinations or pay any costs.

“Survivors of sexual assault have already gone through unfathomable trauma; to then subject them to illegal bills and collection calls is unconscionable,” Underwood said. “Hospitals have a fundamental responsibility to comply with New York law. My office will continue to do everything in our power to protect survivors and their rights.”

The investigation began after a survivor was billed seven times for a forensic examination that was administered at Brooklyn Hospital’s emergency room, prompting a statewide review of bill practices at other hospitals.

The bills ranged from $46 to $3,000. The investigation found hospitals had failed to inform patients of proper payment options.

“We commend Attorney General Underwood for taking this critical step in ending the unlawful practice of billing rape survivors for their Forensic Rape Examinations,” said Sonia Ossorio, the president of the National Organization for Women – New York. “It is of the utmost importance that survivors are given every tool and support possible to come forward, report the crime if that is what they wish to do, and to lower any barriers to reporting.”

The AG’s office can be contacted regarding billing complaints at 1-800-428-9071.

Underwood Issues Supplementary Guidance For Sanctuary Communities

Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s office on Wednesday issued a supplementary legal guidance for local governments that have been designated sanctuary communities for undocumented immigrants.

The guidance comes after this month’s appellate court decision that determined New York law bars state and local law enforcement agents from attest people for civil immigration violations.

The ruling has been consistent with previous guidance offered in 2017 by the attorney general’s office, which had been released as the federal government was expected to shift its policies toward sanctuary communities.

“The Second Department’s decision underscores the fact that New York law does not authorize state and local law enforcement to arrest individuals for civil immigration violations,” Underwood said.

“As our guidance details, the federal government simply does not have the authority to transform state and local police into federal immigration agents. Protecting public safety goes hand in hand with building trust with immigrant communities, and we’ll continue to give New York localities the tools they need to protect vulnerable immigrant communities and help ensure all New Yorkers’ safety.”

The updated guidance van be found here.

Underwood Amicus Brief Challenges Whitaker Appointment

Attorney General Barbara Underwood on Monday filed a friend-of-the-court brief opposing the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting U.S. attorney general by President Donald Trump.

The brief is part of a Maryland case challenging the recess appointment by Trump being brought by a coalition of 15 attorneys general, including Underwood.

“The law is clear – and Matthew Whitaker’s appointment as Acting Attorney General is illegal, violating long-standing rules,” Underwood said in a statement. “Our coalition of Attorneys General will continue to do what’s necessary to protect the rule of law.”

The brief is in support of a motion that seeks to block Whitaker from exercising authority as the U.S. attorney general or to substitute deputy AG Rod Rosenstein as the defendant in an ongoing case between Maryland and the federal government over the Affordable Care Act.

The brief, along with New York, was backed by attorneys general in Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington.

AG Report: Professional Fundraisers Pocket A Third Of Donations

Nearly a third of money given to charitable causes and organizations are pocketed by professional fundraisers, according to a report released Monday by Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s office.

The annual report, published ahead of Giving Tuesday, assesses New York charities, their spending and how their donation money is spent.

“New Yorkers are generous in their charitable giving – and they should know how their dollars are being spent,” Underwood said. “Too often, a large percentage of charitable dollars are pocketed by outside fundraisers rather than going to the cause itself. I urge all New Yorkers to be careful, and to report suspicious entities to my office.”

New Yorkers in 2017 gave nearly $1.2 billion in charitable gifts to 964 fundraising campaigns that were conducted by professional fundraisers. The charities netted $812 million, while fundraisers who helped raise the money received $372 million.

Professional fundraisers are regulated in New York and must register with the attorney general’s office. They must provide financial reporting breaking down the revenue raised and the expenses generated by a campaign.

The full report can be found here.

James Announces Top Staff

Attorney General-elect Tish James on Tuesday announced a slate of top staff for her office.

James has appointed Ibrahim Khan her chief of staff. Khan comes from James’s public advocate office, having served as deputy PA.

Jennifer Levy of Legal Aid will serve as chief deputy attorney general for social justice.

And Jose Maldonado will serve as chief deputy attorney general for criminal justice.

James previously announced incumbent Attorney General Barbara Underwood will return as the state’s solicitor general.

No Criminal Charges For Schneiderman

Former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will not face criminal charges related to allegations of physical abuse by multiple women that ultimately triggered his resignation from office.

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, who had been appointed to investigate Schneiderman, interviewed the women as well as members of Schneiderman’s staff.

“Following an exhaustive review, evaluation of the facts, the law, and applicable statutes of limitations,” she said.

“I believe the women who shared their experiences with our investigation team, however legal impediments, including statutes of limitations, preclude criminal prosecution. Our investigation also highlighted deficiencies in New York law for which I have drafted remedial legislation.”

Schneiderman resigned hours after The New Yorker reported the allegations of multiple women that Schneiderman had been physically abusive. He was replaced by Barbara Underwood who is completing the unexpired term. On Tuesday, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James was elected the next attorney general on Tuesday.

“I recognize that District Attorney Singas’ decision not to prosecute does not mean I have done nothing wrong,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “I accept full responsibility for my conduct in my relationships with my accusers, and for the impact it had on them. After spending time in a rehab facility, I am committed to a lifelong path of recovery and making amends to those I have harmed. I apologize for any and all pain that I have caused, and I apologize to the people of the State of New York for disappointing them after they put their trust in me.”