News Feed: Attorney General /news-rss?filter=attorney_general News Feed: Attorney General Mon, 19 Mar 2018 02:50:42 +0000 en-us AG Hawley Announces Settlement Reached in Blind Pension Fund Case urn:uuid:b1d4c314-ad6b-6a5c-bcc3-ff000082a1ac Thu, 01 Mar 2018 09:08:44 +0000 Jefferson City, Mo.  – Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley today announced that a settlement has been reached between the State and the Missouri Council of the Blind and other named plaintiffs regarding payments from the Blind Pension Fund. In 2006, under Attorney General Nixon's Administration, plaintiffs sued the Missouri Department of Social Services and the State of Missouri Family Support Division claiming the agencies incorrectly calculated the amount of money recipients were entitled to each month. “This issue has been drawn out for over ten years and I am pleased an agreement has been reached without having to delay the issue any longer in court,” Hawley said. The Blind Pension Fund was established in 1921 to provide monthly benefits to blind Missourians and is financed entirely by state funds. AG Hawley Joins Coalition to Fight Unconstitutional Obamacare urn:uuid:a3cec314-ad6b-6a5c-bcc3-ff000082a1ac Mon, 26 Feb 2018 17:00:46 +0000 Jefferson City, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley today joined a 19-state coalition urging a federal district court in Texas to hold the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate unconstitutional and to enjoin the entire law. The complaint, filed late Monday, explains that the ACA, as recently amended, forces an unconstitutional regime onto the states and their citizens. In NFIB v. Sebelius, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly upheld the core provision of the ACA—the individual mandate—as a “tax.” However, Congress has recently repealed this tax, while leaving the mandate in place. Since the Supreme Court has already held that Congress has no authority to impose the mandate on Americans unless it is a tax, the mandate is now unconstitutional and the ACA must fall. “The Affordable Care Act was never constitutional,” Hawley said. “My Office will continue to fight to take health care choices out of the hands of DC bureaucrats and put them in the hands of families and physicians." Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed the coalition’s brief in a federal district court in Texas. In addition to Missouri, the other states participating are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia. AG Hawley and FTC Seek to Shut Down International Direct Mail Operation that Targeted Elderly Consumers, Collected Millions urn:uuid:ffc7c314-ad6b-6a5c-bcc3-ff000082a1ac Thu, 22 Feb 2018 09:34:19 +0000 Jefferson City, Mo. — Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley today announced that his office, in partnership with the Federal Trade Commission, has brought an action against Kevin Brandes, William Graham, and ten of their companies including Opportunities Unlimited, Inc. and Next-Gen, Inc. Brandes and Graham ran a fraudulent direct mail operation based in Kansas City, Missouri. This operation took in about $30 million per year, from mostly elderly victims. The scheme targeted people in Missouri, nationwide, and other countries. The Defendants sent mailers that falsely represented consumers had won, or were likely to win, a substantial cash prize in exchange for paying a series of fees. No one ever won a significant prize. The mailers communicated urgency, such as warning that consumers they must “respond quickly to avoid forfeiture of this Prize Opportunity.” The mailers also provided a false veneer of authenticity by means such as appearing to be a stock certificate or using signatures with lofty titles like “Senior Director of Payments.” “Today, our office seeks to shut down one of the largest direct mail schemes in the country,” Hawley said. “The defendants preyed on elderly victims for years. My office will aggressively pursue deceitful and dishonest businesses that prey upon our senior citizens.” Assistant Attorneys General Nathan Atkinson and Bob Carlson prosecuted the case on behalf of the Attorney General's Office in connection with the Federal Trade Commission. Investigators Carrie Ahart and Shelly Land led the investigation for the Attorney General’s Office. This action was filed in conjunction with the Department of Justice as part of their enforcement sweep aimed at stopping illegal schemes that exploit elderly Americans. For more information on these actions, visit  Attorney General Hawley recommends the following tips to avoid direct mail scams: Legitimate companies will never ask you to pay fees to participate to receive a prize. You should never have to pay handling charges, service fees, or any other kind of charges up front to receive a win – those are sure signs of a scam. Direct mailers that offer a chance to win do not need to withdraw money from your bank or verify information using your credit card number. Never give out your personal information. The mail you receive may look official—as if it was truly sent from a government agency. Carefully read the material inside the envelope to determine if it is really from a government agency. Research the information enclosed and the agency if necessary. Missourians who believe they may have been the victim of any scam are encouraged to file a complaint by calling the Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-392-8222 or by submitting a claim online. AG Hawley Applauds Filing of Legislation to Strengthen Missouri Sunshine Law urn:uuid:a4c6c314-ad6b-6a5c-bcc3-ff000082a1ac Wed, 21 Feb 2018 11:42:17 +0000 Jefferson City, Mo.  – Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley today applauded Rep. David Gregory and Rep. Jean Evan's legislation to update and improve Missouri’s Sunshine Laws. HB2523 and HB2524 follow recent proposals by the Attorney General’s Office and the Missouri Press Association to strengthen enforcement of Chapter 109 of the Missouri Revised Statutes and the Missouri Sunshine Law.                “The people of Missouri deserve an open, honest, and transparent government,” Hawley said. “These bills strengthen Sunshine enforcement and increase penalties for violators. This will allow Missouri press and citizens to hold their government accountable. I applaud Reps. Gregory and Evans for their leadership on this important issue."   “The Missouri open records laws need updating and I am pleased to push this legislation forward,” Rep. Gregory said. “Giving the Attorney General stronger remedies to enforce open-records laws is both commonsense and necessary. Government must be transparent to earn the trust of its people.”  “I am pleased to support this legislation with Rep. Gregory,” Rep. Jean Evans said. “The Missouri General Assembly has an opportunity to reinforce the importance of transparency by enhancing the Sunshine Laws in our state. This legislation does just that.”  “The Missouri Press Association supports this progress in improving Missouri’s Sunshine Law,” Jean Maneke, Counsel to the Missouri Press Association, said. “We are happy to see this conversation happening—and look forward to moving it forward.” AG Hawley to Work with Women’s Foundation in Combatting Harassment and Discrimination in Missouri State Government urn:uuid:a7c5c314-ad6b-6a5c-bcc3-ff000082a1ac Tue, 20 Feb 2018 14:00:36 +0000 Jefferson City, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley today announced his Office will partner with the Women’s Foundation in conducting a comprehensive review of existing discrimination and harassment policies across state government. Attorney General Hawley highlighted the need for decisive action on these issues in the first-ever annual Legal Expense Fund (“LEF”) report his office issued in January. The annual report recognized that discrimination and harassment claims against the State impose a substantial burden on taxpayers and reflect a deep-seated culture of discrimination and retaliation throughout state government.   In the annual LEF report, Attorney General Hawley proposed several initiatives to address these issues. Among those proposals, the Attorney General committed to conduct a comprehensive review of existing discrimination and harassment policies across state government. As part of this effort, the Office will identify best practices based on successful approaches taken in the public and private sectors, and it will use these best practices to provide candid feedback to government entities regarding their existing polices. The Attorney General’s Office and the Women’s Foundation jointly issued a set of general principles that will help guide this statewide review. These guideposts draw on the Women’s Foundation’s past experience advising government entities on discrimination and sexual harassment best practices. Most recently, the Women’s Foundation worked closely with the Kansas Legislature to enact strengthened sexual harassment policies. “There is no place for discrimination or harassment of any kind—anywhere,” Hawley said. “I am grateful to the Women’s Foundation for offering their insight into these tough issues. And I look forward to working with them to improve the work climate throughout state government.” “Every instance of sexual harassment is a barrier to women’s political and professional advancement,” Wendy Doyle, President & CEO of the Women’s Foundation, said. “As an organization that is dedicated to increasing the number of women in leadership positions, we’ve seen first-hand how sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation can deter women from civic engagement. We look forward to continuing to be a resource for the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, the Missouri General Assembly and all public officials working to combat sexual harassment and discrimination in state government.” AG Hawley Announces Six Charged with Defrauding Missouri’s Personal Care and Consumer Directed Services Programs of more than $49,000 urn:uuid:c5c0c314-ad6b-6a5c-bcc3-ff000082a1ac Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:39:16 +0000 Jefferson City, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley announced that his office, along with St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch, Pemiscot County Prosecuting Attorney Jereme Lytle, and Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker, recently obtained indictments and charged personal care attendants Julius Terry (St. Louis), Reida Thornton (St. Louis), Felicia Ricks (Caruthersville), and Angel Zahnter (Kansas City) with defrauding Missouri’s Medicaid program. In addition, Medicaid recipient Joyce Terry (St. Louis) was indicted for defrauding Missouri’s Medicaid program and Medicaid recipient Michael Robinson (Caruthersville) was charged with conspiring to defraud Missouri’s Medicaid program.    Each of the six cases involves Missouri Medicaid’s Personal Care or Consumer Directed Services programs. These programs provide in-home personal care services to Medicaid recipients who have qualified for nursing home level of care. In both programs, personal care attendants are to assist patients in the patient’s home with activities of daily living such as food preparation, bathing, dressing, and grooming. Both programs require the Medicaid recipient receiving these in-home services to confirm that the services were provided as represented by the personal care attendant. The defendants in these cases are alleged to have defrauded these programs, in total, of more than $49,000.  The St. Louis cases were jointly investigated by Attorney General Hawley’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the United States Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General and are being jointly prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office, and the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The Pemiscot County cases were investigated by Attorney General Hawley’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and are being jointly prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office and the Pemiscot County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The Jackson County Case was investigated by Attorney General Hawley’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and is being prosecuted by the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.  “Let this be a reminder that those who defraud the State and steal taxpayer dollars will be prosecuted,” Hawley said. “I am grateful to the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and our partners in the United States Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General as well as the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office, the Pemiscot County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office.”   St. Louis County Cases A St. Louis County grand jury returned an indictment charging Julius Terry with two felony counts of Medicaid Fraud and one felony count of Receiving Stolen Property. The grand jury also charged Joyce Terry, Julius’ mother, with one count of Medicaid Fraud. The indictment alleges that Julius Terry billed Medicaid for in-home personal care services that he did not provide to his mother and another participant over a period of at least two years. Julius is alleged to have received over $32,000 from Medicaid as a result of his fraud. Additionally, Joyce Terry is alleged to have signed timesheets stating she received personal care services from her son when she knew the services were not provided.  A St. Louis County grand jury also returned an indictment charging Reida Thornton with one felony count of Medicaid Fraud and one felony count of Forgery. Thornton is alleged to have falsely claimed to provide over $7,000 of in-home personal care services to a Medicaid recipient. In addition, Thornton is alleged to have forged the Medicaid recipient’s signature on numerous occasions so that it would appear that the recipient confirmed that the services were provided.  Pemiscot County Cases Felicia Ricks was charged with one count of Medicaid Fraud for allegedly claiming to provide in-home personal care services to Michael Robinson while Robinson was incarcerated in the Pemiscot County Jail. In turn, Robinson was charged with one count of Conspiracy to Commit Medicaid Fraud for conspiring with Ricks to defraud Medicaid. Together, Ricks and Robinson allegedly defrauded Medicaid in excess of $6,000. Both Ricks and Robinson were charged as prior and persistent felony offenders.  Jackson County Case Angel Zahnter was charged with committing one count of Medicaid Fraud, and one count of receiving stolen property. The complaint alleges that Zahnter knowingly caused false claims to be submitted to Medicaid for in-home Consumer Directed Services she did not provide. Zahnter is alleged to have defrauded Missouri’s Medicaid program in excess of $4,000.   The St. Louis County cases are being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Robert Estep and St. Louis County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Andy Wasserman. The Pemiscot County cases are being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Aaron Maness and Pemiscot County Prosecuting Attorney Jereme Lytle. The six cases were investigated by Amy Moffett, Meghan Gordon, and Crystal Lewis for the Office. AG Hawley Announces Lafayette County Child Sex Abuse Conviction urn:uuid:98bfc314-ad6b-6a5c-bcc3-ff000082a1ac Wed, 14 Feb 2018 11:53:08 +0000 Jefferson City, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley announced that a Lafayette County jury took just 80 minutes to find Arthur W. Sanders, 80, guilty of 11 counts of child molestation and sodomy for sexually abusing two female relatives. The abuse began when each girl was around 12 years old. A resident of Odessa, Missouri, Sanders used his position as their after-school caretaker to molest and sodomize the girls, including putting money into one child's underwear and bra and having the children touch him. At trial, a previous victim from the early 1980s testified that she too was abused around the same age but was encouraged by family to stay quiet. Sanders was detected when the oldest girl, after five years of abuse, disclosed it to a school counselor.  “Abuse of this nature has no place in Missouri,” Hawley said. “My Office will continue to protect these vulnerable citizens—and fight to put perpetrators behind bars.” Sanders faces a possible life sentence in the Department of Corrections and is not eligible for bail or bond. He will be sentenced on April 2, 2018, by the Honorable Dennis Rolf. The case was tried by Monty Platz of the Missouri Attorney General's Office at the request of the Lafayette County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, which originally filed the charges. AG Hawley Joins Bipartisan Coalition Urging Congress to Protect Employees from Sexual Harassment urn:uuid:12bec314-ad6b-6a5c-bcc3-ff000082a1ac Tue, 13 Feb 2018 17:09:28 +0000 Jefferson City, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Hawley joined a bipartisan coalition of 56 states and territories urging Congress to end secret, forced arbitration in cases of workplace sexual harassment. Too often employees are required to sign employment contracts containing arbitration agreements mandating that sexual harassment claims be resolved through private arbitration instead of the judicial process. The secrecy surrounding these proceedings can protect serial violators and provide inadequate relief to victims.  “A transparent government is a key tenant of democracy,” Hawley said. “Allowing our elected representatives to settle harassment claims in secret perpetuates bad behavior—and prevents constituents from knowing the true nature of their elected officials. We, as a nation, must do better to protect victims of sexual harassment and part of this is allowing them access to the judicial system in lieu of forced arbitration.” The attorneys general letter, sent Monday, to leaders in the United States House of Representative and the United States Senate asks Congress to pass appropriately-tailored legislation to ensure that sexual harassment victims have a right to their day in court. “Congress today has both opportunity and cause to champion the rights of victims of sexual harassment in the workplace by enacting legislation to free them from the injustice of forced arbitration and secrecy when it comes to seeking redress from egregious misconduct condemned by all concerned Americans,” states the letter cosponsored by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein. Attorneys general from the states, D.C. and five U.S. territories joined the letter: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.  A copy of the letter is available here. Licensed Professional Counselor Pleads Guilty to $175,000 Medicaid Fraud Scheme urn:uuid:7a8cc314-ad6b-6a5c-bcc3-ff000082a1ac Fri, 26 Jan 2018 11:25:03 +0000 Jefferson City, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley announced that Corrine A. Dale, of St. Louis, entered an open plea in St. Louis County Circuit Court to 15 felony counts in a case jointly prosecuted by the Attorney General and St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch. Dale, a licensed professional counselor, stole $175,609.50 from Missouri’s Medicaid program by falsely billing and receiving payment for counseling services she never provided. Dale pled guilty before the Hon. Joseph L. Walsh, III, to 12 Class C Felonies of Medicaid Fraud, 1 Class B Felony of Receiving Stolen Property, and 2 Class A Felonies of Identity Theft. Judge Walsh sentenced Dale to 7 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections for each Medicaid fraud count, 7 years for the Receiving Stolen Property count, and 15 years for each Identity Theft count. The court suspended execution of the sentences, placed Dale on 5 years supervised probation, and as a condition of her probation ordered her to pay restitution of $175,609.50. Upon sentencing Dale, Judge Walsh admonished her, “You stole from Missouri and these beneficiaries, from your own neighbors.” From January 1, 2014, through September 30, 2015, Dale stole Medicaid recipients’ identities by using the recipients’ Department Client Numbers, or “DCNs,” to fraudulently bill for counseling services that she did not provide. For example, Dale fraudulently billed Medicaid for over 24 hours of counseling services in a single day on 101 different days. In addition, Dale fraudulently billed and received payment for behavioral health services to preverbal infants under one year old. In total, Dale submitted 3,561 false claims to Missouri’s Medicaid program. “My Office will not tolerate Medicaid fraud in Missouri,” Hawley said. “On my watch, those who steal Missouri taxpayer dollars, will be prosecuted. I am grateful for the hard work of the Medicaid Fraud Unit to find and return this taxpayer money to the State.” This case was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Brad Crowell and Aaron Maness, and St. Louis County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Andy Wasserman. The case was referred to the Attorney General’s Office by the Missouri Medicaid Audit and Compliance Unit. Amanda Burrows investigated the case for the Office. AG Hawley Reminds Consumers of Deadline to File Claim if Scammed via Western Union Payment urn:uuid:388bc314-ad6b-6a5c-bcc3-ff000082a1ac Thu, 25 Jan 2018 15:59:24 +0000 Jefferson City, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley joined the Federal Trade Commission in alerting consumers who lost money to scammers who told them to pay via Western Union’s money transfer system between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017, that they can now file a claim to get their money back by going to before February 12, 2018. The refund program follows a settlement with the Western Union Company, which in January 2017 agreed to pay $586 million to resolve charges brought by the FTC and the U.S. Department of Justice. The FTC alleged that fraudsters were able to use Western Union’s money transfer system to get payments from their victims, even though the company was aware of the problem and received hundreds of thousands of complaints about fraud-induced money transfers made for fraudulent lottery and prizes, family emergencies, advance-fee loans, online dating, and other scams. The company also allegedly failed to promptly discipline problem Western Union agents and failed to have effective anti-fraud policies and procedures. In January 2017, Attorney General Hawley and the attorneys general of 48 other states, plus the District of Columbia, entered into related settlements with Western Union that required Western Union to develop and put into action a comprehensive anti-fraud program to help detect and prevent future abuses. “Stopping criminals from having an easy means to obtain their illegal proceeds is an important component to combatting a wide range of fraudulent practices,” Hawley said. “My Office will continue to pursue not only those who rip off Missourians, but also those who assist these scammers. I encourage all Missourians who lost money to scammers by making payment via Western Union to make a claim to get their money back.” Affected consumers should go to to file claims, learn more, or get updates on the claims process. Some people who have already reported their losses to Western Union, the FTC, or another government agency will receive a form in the mail from the claims administrator, Gilardi & Co. The form will have a Claim ID and a PIN number to use when filing a claim online via Gilardi was hired by the U.S. Department of Justice, which is responsible for returning victims’ money as part of its settlement with Western Union. Filing a claim is free, so consumers should not pay anyone to file a claim on their behalf. No one associated with the claims process will ever call to ask for consumers’ bank account or credit card number. AG Josh Hawley Announces Phelps County Sentencing urn:uuid:d484c314-ad6b-6a5c-bcc3-ff000082a1ac Wed, 24 Jan 2018 13:39:24 +0000 Jefferson City, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley announced Phelps County resident Christa Mueller has been sentenced to 20 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections for her role in severely abusing her 17-month child in April of 2006. Mueller was convicted by a Phelps County jury in September 2017. The Defendant and her boyfriend, Calvin Alford, were both charged with Assault in the First Degree after the Defendant’s 17-month-old child was treated for bleeding on her brain, contusions to her brain, a skull fracture, 3 fractures to her right arm, 2 collapsed lungs, and multiple bruises and abrasions to her face, arms, legs, and back, all consistent with severe child abuse. The evidence was clear that sometime between 10 p.m. on April 5 and 11 a.m. on April 6, the baby was struck or struck against something multiple times over a period of time. After sustaining these devastating injuries, the Defendant and Mr. Alford failed to seek medical treatment for between 8 to 16 hours, calling 911 only at the insistence of a neighbor. As a result of her injuries and the failure to seek medical treatment for said injuries, the child is blind, unable to walk or sit up, unable to speak or understand language, requires feeding through a tube, and has seizures multiple times a day. “Protecting Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens is a priority,” Hawley said. “My Office will not stand for abuse of this nature and will work to see that perpetrators are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” The case was investigated by the St. James Police Department with assistance from the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department and the Rolla Police Department.  The case was tried by AAG Jennifer Szczucinski with assistance from investigators Haley Porter, Susan Clevenger and Victim Advocate Carrie Boessen. Calvin Alford’s trial is set for trial the week of March 26, 2018. AG Hawley Announces Release of Business Council Against Human Trafficking Training Videos urn:uuid:3283c314-ad6b-6a5c-bcc3-ff000082a1ac Tue, 23 Jan 2018 14:03:51 +0000 Jefferson City, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley today released anti-trafficking training videos, a key component of the Business Council Against Human Trafficking. The videos are available for viewing by employees and members of the council, as well as members of the public.  In October, the Attorney General announced the formation of a coalition of Missouri businesses committed to fighting human trafficking in the State. The Council’s primary focus is increasing the availability of training about human trafficking, especially for workers in industries most likely to encounter trafficking situations. By educating employees, the Business Council is empowering Missouri citizens in all types of professions to monitor and respond if they identify a potential trafficking situation. Membership is open to all Missouri businesses, regardless of size.  The training is available online in two formats: a four-part series of short videos or a single 30-minute video.                  “This council allows Missouri’s businesses to lead on one of the most important issues facing our State today,” Hawley said. “We must all work together if we hope to rid Missouri of this modern-day slavery.”             The Attorney General has issued new regulations targeting traffickers, formed a statewide anti-trafficking task force, and spearheaded the largest anti-trafficking raid in Missouri history as part of his initiative to crackdown on human trafficking in Missouri. Businesses interested in joining should contact Emily Russell ( AG Hawley Announces Legislative Proposals to Strengthen Missouri Sunshine Law urn:uuid:867ec314-ad6b-6a5c-bcc3-ff000082a1ac Mon, 22 Jan 2018 14:08:05 +0000 Jefferson City, Mo.  – Following a meeting with leaders of the Missouri Press Association, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley today announced legislative proposals to strengthen enforcement of the Missouri Sunshine Law. The Attorney General’s Office has three proposals. The first creates a Transparency Division within the Attorney General’s Office. The second proposal asks for authorization to issue investigative subpoenas in the course of its public-record law investigations. The third proposal asks the legislature to create remedies for violations of Chapter 109 of the Missouri Revised Statues and give the Office power to enforce those remedies.  “The people of Missouri deserve an open, honest, and transparent government,” Hawley said. “Open-records laws ensure that Missourians and the press can hold government accountable. It is time to update these laws so that they stay current with our ever-changing needs and technology in our modern world.” “The Missouri Press Association looks forward to working with the Attorney General and legislators to clarify issues with the aged Sunshine Law,” Jean Maneke, Counsel to the Missouri Press Association said. “We are pleased that this conversation has begun—and look forward to supporting progress with regards to keeping Missouri government open and transparent.” AG Hawley Files Two Lawsuits Alleging Sunshine Law Violations urn:uuid:976cc314-ad6b-6a5c-bcc3-ff000082a1ac Thu, 18 Jan 2018 09:08:46 +0000 Jefferson City, Mo.  – Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley today announced that his office has filed lawsuits alleging Sunshine Law violations in two separate Missouri counties. A lawsuit filed in Jefferson County alleges that a former Jefferson County Council Chair instructed a subordinate to destroy e-mails containing billing statements related to an outside law firm hired by the County Council. The lawsuit further alleges the former County Council Chair told the assistant to refrain from releasing the e-mails if requested.   A second lawsuit, filed in St. Louis County, alleges a systemic pattern of failing to adhere to the Sunshine Law on the part of the St. Louis County Executive’s Office. The lawsuit alleges that in a number of instances, the County Executive’s Office never responded to requests. The lawsuit further alleges the Office, in at least some circumstances, failed to provide requested documents to journalists.  Finally, under the Sunshine Law, a governmental body is required to appoint a “Custodian of Records” and disclose that person’s identity upon request. The County Executive’s Office allegedly gave varying answers as to who holds this position thereby preventing constituents and journalists from obtaining public information.  “Governmental transparency is a key tenet of democracy,” Hawley said. “Missouri Sunshine Law exists so that Missourians can know that their government is working for them. Those who violate our State Open Records laws should recognize that on my watch, they will be prosecuted for violating this trust.”  Concerned Missourians can file complaints about possible Sunshine violations on our website. AG Hawley Announces First-Ever Legal Expense Fund Annual Report urn:uuid:d5cec214-ad6b-6a5c-bcc3-ff000082a1ac Wed, 10 Jan 2018 15:19:42 +0000 Jefferson City, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley today sent the first Annual Report for the state’s Legal Expense Fund (LEF) to the General Assembly. The Report analyzes LEF expenditures and liabilities over the 2017 calendar year. In 2017, Attorney General Hawley, for the first time in Missouri history, began releasing monthly reports to the general public detailing payments made from the LEF. The Office also began releasing estimates of total potential liability against the LEF. These estimates give the public and the General Assembly notice of the scope of the liability the State faces. Today’s Annual Report points out the need to address deeper issues driving the State’s litigation exposure. The scale of claims filed under the Missouri Human Rights Act demonstrates that significant problems of discrimination and retaliation have existed in some parts of state government. The Attorney General proposed the following steps for consideration: State employees need an independent and anonymous channel for reporting discrimination and harassment. The Attorney General’s Office will conduct a comprehensive review of existing discrimination and harassment policies across state government—looking at other states and the federal government. It is essential that those responsible for discrimination, harassment, and retaliation be held accountable. Individuals who engage in misconduct should face concrete and swift employment consequences for doing so. And agencies must commit to eliminating cultures of harassment. “Strategic decisions must always be made in litigation, and my Office strives to protect the interests of the Missouri taxpayer,” Hawley said. “But we also need to initiate a deeper conversation about the culture of state government in Missouri. We must eradicate behavior that creates a negative work environment and prompts costly litigation. I look forward to working with the General Assembly to address these issues in the coming year.” A full copy of the report can be viewed here and here.