(Phoenix, Ariz. – December 29, 2005) The holiday season is a time when we gather with family and friends and look back at the past year, think about the future and count our blessings. It is my honor to serve as your Attorney General, and 2005 was a busy year for us at this office. Below is a brief recap of major issues we addressed this year. Most remain on our agenda for 2006.
- Methamphetamine: I led the fight to protect our children, neighborhoods, local police and firefighters from the dangers of meth labs. My comprehensive proposal to keep precursor chemicals out of the hands of meth cooks gained passage in the House but was not given a vote in the Senate. A similar bill will be reintroduced in the 2006 legislative session.
- Colorado City: My office stepped up both criminal and civil enforcement efforts in the polygamous community of Colorado City and continued our collaboration with Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff on his side of the border in Hildale, Utah. I pushed for school district receivership legislation and the appointment of a receiver for the financially mismanaged Colorado City School District. My office cooperated with Mohave County officials who indicted eight men on sexual abuse charges, including Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and posted a $10,000 reward for his apprehension. My office also participated in legal action to replace the trustees of the United Effort Plan trust, which owns most of the property in the Colorado City area.
- ID Theft: My office has aggressively prosecuted ID thieves and embarked on a multi-faceted education campaign to arm consumers with information to protect themselves from becoming ID theft victims. This campaign included holding shred-a-thons in several communities. We will support legislation in 2006 to increase the security of consumers’ financial records, require effective disposal of financial documents and provide mandatory notification to anyone whose financial information has been compromised.
- Proposition 200: I acted promptly to implement provisions of Proposition 200, which was approved by Arizona voters in November 2004, and defended the new law in state and federal court.
- Environmental Lawsuit: My office filed a multi-count civil action on behalf of five state agencies against land developer George H. Johnson and affiliated entities. The lawsuit charges the defendants with violations of state law and destruction of Arizona’s natural and archaeological resources.
- CUT IT OUT: My office partnered with the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Arizona State Board of Cosmetology to launch this program that addresses Arizona’s number one violent crime – domestic violence.
- Precision Toyota: In January 2005, we settled with Precision Toyota, a Tucson auto dealer, for $152,000. This consumer fraud settlement was one of the highest recoveries in state history for deceptive advertising claims. Lawsuits accusing two other car dealers of deceptive advertising were also settled.
- Baptist Foundation Criminal Trial: My office went to trial in September against executives of the Baptist Foundation of Arizona in one of the largest non-profit fraud cases in U.S. history. The trial involves thousands of victims and will continue well into 2006.
- Border Security and Enforcement: Though the federal government has primary jurisdiction for immigration control and law enforcement along our border with Mexico, my office has undertaken a number of enforcement actions. These include establishing a nine-member Border Trafficking Team to prosecute cases related to human smuggling and drug importation; prosecuting "coyotes" for human smuggling-related crimes such as kidnapping, theft, assault and money-laundering; and prosecuting people who have manufactured and sold fake IDs to undocumented immigrants. I also hosted the 2005 Attorneys General Border Conference that included AGs from 10 states in the U.S. and Mexico. The conference produced agreements to increase the sharing of information in auto theft, human trafficking and drug cases, as well as the apprehension of fugitives.
- Top 10 Consumer Scams Booklet: My office published a 24-page booklet that serves as a practical guide to the state’s 10 most common frauds and scams. For each fraud, the booklet lists red flags and provides consumers with practical advice to prevent them from becoming victims.
- Lawsuit Against Drug Companies: My office filed a lawsuit against 42 pharmaceutical companies that accuses them of cheating Arizona taxpayers with a drug pricing scheme that has cost consumers and Medicare tens of millions of dollars.
I will continue to work on these important issues and more in 2006. Best wishes for a safe and joyful holiday season and a happy New Year.