Attorney General

James Files To Block Federal Funds For Border Wall

Attorney General Letitia James signed on to a multi-state effort on Friday to block President Donald Trump’s administration from using $1.6 billion in federal money for the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The filing was part of a coalition of 20 states that is being led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

“Diverting funds from key initiatives in order to fund an unnecessary and unwarranted wall is fundamentally irresponsible, undermines Congressional power, and will hurt every American across this nation,” James said in a statement. “We will continue to work with other states in order to prevent this blatant abuse of power.”

The motion argues the president is illegally using executive action to spend the money on the wall, a key campaign pledge for Trump, and violates the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers principles.

Ultimately Trump wants to send up to $6.7 billion through the Department of Treasury’s Forfeiture Fund to build the wall.

James has pledged to take an aggressive legal posture toward the Trump administration’s policies and has launched an investigation into the president’s failed effort to buy the Buffalo Bills.

James Moves To Sue Sackler Family

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday moved to file a lawsuit against the Sackler family, the controlling owners of Purdue Pharma, a company that has been blamed for the proliferation of the prescription painkiller OxyContin and the opioid epidemic.

The lawsuit is one of the first major legal cases James has brought outside of her office’s legal challenges to the policies of President Donlad Trump’s administration.

“The opioid epidemic has ravaged families and communities across New York,” James said.

“We found that pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors engaged in years of deceptive marketing about the risks of opioids and failed to exercise their basic duty to report suspicious behavior, leading to the crisis we are living with today. As the Sackler Family and the other defendants grew richer, New Yorkers’ health grew poorer and our state was left to foot the bill. The manufacturers and distributors of opioids are to blame for this crisis and it is past time they take responsibility.”

The complaint alleges the opioid epidemic was allowed to spread due to fraud and misconduct from both manufacturers and distributors to sell to individual pharmacies. James’s office pointed to “systemic failures” that led to shipments of painkillers to New York pharmacies despite red flags such as those prescriptions paid for in cash or written by a small number of providers.

James Says There’s A Deal To Close Double Jeopardy Loophole

State lawmakers have agreed on a bill that could pave the way for New York prosecutors to bring cases against people who have received presidential pardons, Attorney General Letitia James said on Tuesday.

“This bill is not specifically tailored to any individual,” James said at a news conference. “It focuses on closing a loophole and those individuals who would attempt to evade justice.”

The bill is meant to close the so-called double jeopardy loophole created when a person receives a presidential pardon. 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.

Other Trump former campaign and administration figures are facing legal scrutiny as well as part of a widening case surrounding the investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

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.

“Double jeopardy as you know has existed since the founding of our country,” James said. “But these protections exist for protecting Americans from being charged twice for the same crimes. I recognize that there’s a concept in the constitution known as dual sovereignty. It’s important that each state have the ability to defend and prosecute its state statute.”

James on Tuesday at the Capitol met with state lawmakers to discuss the bill and other issues in her office.

“We do have an agreement with both houses,” she said. “We anticipate the bill will be passed in the coming weeks.”

James also confirmed her office had issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank. The investigation reportedly surrounds Trump’s efforts to purchase the Buffalo Bills football team in 2014.

James Suggests Litigation Likely Over Trump Emergency Declaration

New York Attorney General Letitia James criticized President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on Friday meant to access funds to build a border wall and indicated she will launch a legal challenge as a result.

“Declaring a National Emergency without legitimate cause could create a Constitutional crisis,” said James, a Democrat who took office this year.

“This action will harm Americans across the country by diverting funds necessary to handle real emergencies and real disasters to advance the President’s personal agenda. We will not stand for this abuse of power and will fight back with every legal tool at our disposal.”

Trump on Friday declared the emergency after a federal budget appropriation bill set aside far less than the $5 billion the president is seeking to build the wall on the southern border with Mexico, a signature campaign pledge.

Legal experts have indicated the declaration is likely to face several legal challenges.

James Backs Effort To Block Deportations

Attorney General Letitia James’s office on Friday joined in a friend-of-the-court brief opposing an effort that could lead to the deportation of hundreds of thousand of people who have temporary protected status.

The brief, filed as part of a coalition with 22 attorneys general, called on the Ninth Circuit Court to uphold an injunction that plaintiffs successfully received in the lower federal idstrict court that blocked the Department of Homeland Security from rescinding the designation for Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Sudan.

“Immigrant New Yorkers are critical to the economic and cultural strength of our state,” James said. “The Trump Administration continues to take away the vital protections for these communities, and as a result, is putting their safety and wellbeing at risk. My office will continue to use every resource at our disposal to protect New York’s vast immigrant communities.”

Temporary protected status is a designation for refugees who have fled home countries engulfed in either armed conflict, a natural disaster or emergency crisis.

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.