December 18, 2009
I have been reminding Kentucky consumers this week about the importance of considering toy and product safety as they make their holiday purchases. I appreciate the help I have received from local media in both Louisville and Lexington in delivering this safety alert. By checking recall and product safety information, consumers can prevent potential injuries and possibly save lives. You can also watch out for these recalled items when you clean out toy boxes and make purchases from online auction sites.
Some of the more popular toys recalled this year include the Psyclone Essentials brand Wii 4-Dock Battery Recharge Stations-recalled for posing a burn or fire hazard, the High School Musical Manicure Kits due to high lead levels and the Leap Frog “My Pal Scout” Electronic Plush Toy Dogs because of choking hazards. We have posted a guide, compliments of my counterpart in Illinois, to toy and product recalls for 2009 on our website at http://tinyurl.com/yckyenb. I also recommend visiting the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website at www.cpsc.gov. My Office of Consumer Protection will continue to monitor recall notices for potentially dangerous toys and we will issue more safety alerts in the coming months.
It was great seeing the fine folks in the WKYT-TV Studios in Lexington today. I was a guest on Kentucky Newsmakers with Bill Bryant. I appreciated the opportunity to talk about some of the latest news from my office including the tremendous work being done by my OAG Prescription Drug Diversion Task Force and our recent participation in Kentucky’s historic drug sweep targeting the pain pill pipeline between Kentucky and Florida.
Coming up on Monday, I’ll be talking to WASE’s Les Cook in E-town, WBIO’s Mike Chaney in Owensboro and WHVO’s Ann Petrie in Cadiz. I hope you’ll be listening.
As many of us do this time of year, I have been reflecting on the many blessings and challenges 2009 has brought. Despite budget cuts in excess of 20% since I took office, I am proud of all that we have accomplished for Kentucky families. I remain committed to protecting the mission critical work of this office and implementing new initiatives so we can make Kentucky a safer place to live, work and raise a family.
Despite these trying times, I have much to be thankful for. Elizabeth and I look forward to our first Christmas with our daughter, Eva, and spending time with our family. We are also so grateful for the many friendships we have formed across this great Commonwealth. We wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday season and a blessed New Year.
December 11, 2009
During these tough economic times, every dollar saved can make a difference for a Kentucky family trying to make ends meet. Earlier this week, I was pleased to announce a preliminary settlement agreement with Duke Energy that will result in a smaller increase in monthly natural gas bills for Duke’s customers in Kentucky.
After Duke filed its application and proposed rate increase last summer, my Office of Rate Intervention, along with our experts, began to analyze the proposed $17.49 million rate increase. We believed the request to be excessive and began working with Duke to negotiate a smaller rate increase.
As per our preliminary settlement, Duke is limited to a general increase of $13 million, a decrease of $4.49 million from the original request. The settlement also prevents Duke from requesting another rate increase from the Public Service Commission (PSC) during the next 18 months. Additionally, the company has agreed to withdraw a request for a rate mechanism that would have dramatically increased monthly customer charges. I am hopeful the PSC will approve the settlement when it hears the case on Tuesday, December 15.
Since January 2008, my Office of Rate Intervention has saved ratepayers more than $97 million in proposed utility rate increases. Be assured, we will continue to closely examine all proposed utility rate increases to protect Kentucky consumers.
Coming up on Monday, I look forward to talking to WQXE’s Lee Bramlett in E-town about giving wisely this holiday season and some important news from my Drug Investigations Branch. I’ll also be checking in with WAIN’s Lisa Clark in Columbia and Greg Leath of WCCK in Calvert City.
I hope you’ll be able to listen to my friends Terry Meiners and Francene next week on 84 WHAS. I’ll be on Terry’s show on Wednesday, December 16 and Francene and I will be talking about the latest news on Thursday morning.
December 4, 2009
I was able to celebrate the season with many of my staff members this week at our annual holiday open house here in Frankfort. I appreciated the opportunity to personally thank my staff for all that they do for the Office of the Attorney General and for the citizens of this great Commonwealth. There is no question; the state budget crisis has taken a heavy toll on my office- leaving fewer people to do more work. Despite drastic budget cuts, my staff remains committed to making Kentucky a safer place to live, work and raise a family. For that, I am truly grateful.
As always, it was a pleasure to talk to my good friend Terry Meiners on 84WHAS this week. I updated him on the latest news from my office, including the arrest of 15 suspects in central and eastern Kentucky who are accused of forging Oxycontin prescriptions. Please see our press release.
Coming up on Monday, I’ll be talking to Neal Bradley of WNBS in Murray, Alan Watts of WKDZ in Cadiz and Scooter and Myla from WBVR in Bowling Green. I hope you can tune in.
Finally, I’m looking forward to cheering on the Wildcats in Rupp Arena tomorrow as they take on the on the Tar Heels of North Carolina. Go Cats.
November 20, 2009
I was pleased to join the attorneys general from 31 other states this week in announcing an agreement with Internet phone-service provider, Vonage, over its marketing practices and handling of consumer cancellation requests. Because Vonage had previously paid incentives to customer service representatives for retaining customers, consumers complained that it was difficult, if not impossible, to cancel their service.
As per the agreement, refunds will be issued to eligible consumers and there are now strict limitations on cancellation and retention practices. Consumers must also be informed of the process and fees for cancellation.
For more information on the Vonage settlement, or if you believe you might be eligible for a refunds, please see our press release.
As always, it was a pleasure to talk about the latest news from my office with my friend Terry Meiners of 84 WHAS on Wednesday. I hope you were able to tune in. I also appreciated the warm welcome at the Kentucky State FOP fall conference in Covington last weekend. It was an honor to speak to FOP members from across Kentucky and to personally thank them for all they do to keep Kentucky families safe.
As we prepare to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, I hope you’ll join me in counting the many wonderful blessings we have and sharing them with those who are less fortunate. Elizabeth and I look forward to spending time with both of our families and of course, our most precious gift, Eva. We’d like to wish everyone safe travels and a Happy Thanksgiving.
November 13, 2009
It was an honor to be among the speakers at this week’s Veteran’s Day ceremony at the Patriots Peace Memorial. Our veterans, young and old, are true heroes in our community. Let us never forget the sacrifices they have made for us and in the name of freedom and democracy. We must also remember the military men and women who are overseas, risking their lives every day to protect our freedom for generations to come. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced earlier today that it will look into the safety and legality of alcoholic energy drinks (AEDs). In a letter to the FDA, I, along with the attorneys general from 18 other states, praised the FDA for its decision and urged the agency to quickly to address what I believe to be a serious health and safety risk for our youth. Recent studies suggest youth who mix alcohol and energy drinks engage in increased heavy episodic drinking that could lead to other alcohol-related problems such as traffic accidents, violence or sexual assault. For more information, please see our press release.
Coming up tonight, I’ll address another serious threat to Kentucky youth, cyberbullying. Senator Dan Seum and I are guest speakers at an event at Louisville’s Fern Creek High School that will address teen suicide and the terrifying toll that cyberbullying can have on kids. Francene from 84 WHAS is the emcee. I appreciated the opportunity to talk about this important issue as a guest on Francene’s show earlier this week.
Tomorrow morning, I’ll be in Covington and look forward to speaking at the Kentucky State FOP fall conference. On Monday, I’ll talk about the latest news from my office with WASE’s Les Cook in E-town, WBIO’s Mike Chaney in Owensboro and WHVO’s Ann Petrie in Cadiz. I hope you’ll be listening.
November 6, 2009
I remain concerned about a recent Kentucky Supreme Court decision that I believe raises serious public safety issues. On Thursday, my Office of Criminal Appeals filed a motion with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking a stay of the state Supreme Court ruling that lifts the residency restrictions for all registered sex offenders who committed their crimes before July 12, 2006, when Kentucky’s sex offender registry law took effect.
I realize there are constitutional issues regarding retroactivity; however, this ruling raises clear safety issues for Kentucky families as it affects more than 5,500 sex offenders who could live next to schools and daycares. I am hopeful the U.S. Supreme Court will suspend implementation of the ruling until it decides whether or not to review Kentucky’s case.
It was a privilege to speak to the many volunteers and children’s advocates who attended the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) statewide convention on Thursday. For the past 24 years, CASA volunteers have served as an extra set of eyes and ears, protecting abused and neglected children moving through the child welfare system. By year’s end, CASA’s 700 trained volunteers will have served more than 2,700 children in Kentucky. That represents 60,000 volunteer hours. It was an honor to personally thank CASA and its volunteers for the work they do to give a voice to Kentucky kids in crisis.
As always, it was a pleasure talking with my friend Terry Meiners on 84 WHAS Radio this week and coming up on Monday, I’ll talk about the latest news from my office with WQXE’s Lee Bramlett in E-town, WAIN’s Lisa Clark in Columbia and WCCk’s Greg Leath in Calvert City. Also, I will be making my regular appearance on the Franene show on Tuesday.
October 30, 2009
For those of us working to combat the epidemic of prescription drug abuse in Kentucky, this week marked a pivotal turn in our fight. I am proud to say that a multi-agency operation, that included my Drug Investigations Branch and Prescription Drug Diversion Task Force, was able to arrest more than 300 people in 34 counties on charges related to the illegal diversion of prescription pills in the Commonwealth. This was the largest drug sweep in Kentucky’s history.
Through this coordinated effort between my office, Kentucky State Police, FBI, Operation UNITE, Appalachian HIDTA, U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, we have struck a major blow to the prescription pill pipeline that exists between Kentucky and Florida. I am particularly grateful to Operation UNITE and its law enforcement director, Dan Smoot, in Eastern Kentucky for their steadfast partnership in the fight against prescription pill abuse in Kentucky.
This week’s historic drug sweep is particularly gratifying given the fact that Kentucky led the nation last year in prescription pill use for non-medical purposes. Prescription drug abuse is devastating families in every corner of the Commonwealth and claiming far too many young lives.
I look forward to our continued participation in this ongoing operation.
As the state’s chief law officer, public safety is one of my top priorities. That’s why I will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the October 1 ruling by the Kentucky Supreme Court on the residency restrictions for registered sex offenders. The state supreme court ruling found it was unconstitutional to retroactively apply residency restrictions on sex offenders who committed their crimes before July 12, 2006, when the law took effect.
I believe the court’s decision raises serious public safety concerns, as it could result in hundreds of sex offenders living next to schools and daycares. In the interest of protecting Kentucky families, my Office of Criminal Appeals has filed a motion requesting that the court suspend implementation of the ruling until the U.S. Supreme Court determines whether it will review the case.
I appreciated the opportunity this week to talk to Craig Hoffman and Julie Smith of Louisville's WBKI TV about my initiatives on cybersfety and prescription drug abuse. Coming up on Monday, Nov. 2, I’ll talk about the latest news from my office with Neal Bradley of WNBS Radio in Murray, Alan Watts of WKDZ in Cadiz and Scooter and Myla of WBVR Radio in Bowling Green. If you live in these communities, I hope you’ll tune in.
Finally, Elizabeth and I are looking forward to our first Halloween with Eva. She looks adorable in her lobster costume. Please remember to watch out for trick-or-treaters this weekend and make sure to inspect all candy.
October 23, 2009
I appreciated the opportunity this week to join with Kentucky sheriffs in announcing details of a settlement with a Texas-based charity and its paid solicitor that will result in the purchase of much needed equipment for Kentucky sheriffs and their deputies. I want to give special thanks to Warren County Sheriff Jerry “Peanuts” Gaines for his role in our investigation of the United States Deputy Sheriff’s Association (USDSA) and Courtesy Call (CCI).
USDSA and CCI misled donors into believing that their contributions would directly benefit local sheriffs’ departments. This type of deceptive solicitation takes advantage of the generosity of Kentucky citizens and does a disservice to those who risk their lives to keep us safe. For more information on the settlement and on charitable giving, please see our press release.
Kentucky’s Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention (CSAEP) Board is marking its 25th anniversary with its 1st Annual Halloween Ball tomorrow in Louisville. As chairman, I am proud of the work the CSAEP Board has done in overseeing the Child Victims’ Trust Fund and combating child sexual abuse in Kentucky. I hope you will support this event and our child sexual abuse prevention efforts in the Commonwealth.
I look forward to talking about cybersafety with students and faculty at Hopkinsville Middle School at 1 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 26. On Tuesday, I’ll talk about the latest news from my office with the CW’s Craig Hoffman (WBKI) in Louisville.
Finally, this week marks National Teen Driver Safety Week and the latest statistics are troubling. Drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 were involved in more than 26,000 collisions in Kentucky in 2008, resulting in 141 fatalities, according to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Nationwide, vehicle crashes killed more than 7,300 youth in 2007. The use of cell phones, texting, food and beverages and loud music all contribute to these disturbing numbers.
Behind each one of these numbers is a young person whose life has been cut short. These are sons and daughters and brothers and sisters who will never experience the joy of graduation day or seeing their families cheer them on from the sidelines of a sporting event. No family should have to incur this heartache. Please talk to your teens about safe driving habits.
October 16, 2009
I’d like to thank all of the parents who attended our CyberSafeKy conference last night in Hazard. I appreciated the warm welcome and look forward to our next cybersafety conference on Oct. 22 at Western Kentucky University. These events are free and a wonderful opportunity to learn how to keep your kids safe online. Registration is available on our website at http://ag.ky.gov/cybersafety/ .
I look forward to visiting with folks at the annual free community shredding event at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville tomorrow. Mayor Jerry Abramson and I want to remind residents that the best way to prevent identity theft is by destroying documents that contain personal information such as bank accounts, credit-card information or Social Security numbers. We would not be able to offer this important public service without the generosity of local shredding company, Shred-It. Documents, discs, hard drives, credit cards and other confidential materials will be accepted between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Also this week, I was pleased to announce that a Franklin Circuit Court jury handed down a $14.7 million verdict against British drug-maker AstraZeneca. This is one of numerous lawsuits filed by my office against drug companies we believe have defrauded the Medicaid program and Kentucky consumers by inflating the prices of their prescription drugs.
With the AstraZeneca verdict, my Medicaid Fraud division has recovered or obtained verdicts totaling nearly $100 million. This is an incredible milestone that could not have been reached without the hard work and dedication of my staff. More information is available in our Press Release.
Coming up on Monday, I’ll talk about the latest news from my office with WASE Radio’s Les Cook in E-town, WSON’s Bill Stevens in Henderson, WBIO’s Mike Chaney in Owensboro, WHVO’s Ann Petrie in Cadiz and WCLU Radio’s Julie Ann Williams in Glasgow. I’ll also check in with my good friend Terry Meiners on 84 WHAS radio at 6:15 p.m. on Wed. Oct. 21. I hope you can tune in.
October 9, 2009
As Attorney General, I’ve made Internet safety and preventing Internet crimes a top priority. With Kentucky kids settling into the new school year, it’s more important than ever for parents to talk to their kids about the dangers that exist online.
This week, I joined David Couch of the Kentucky Department of Education in welcoming ConnectKentucky to our Internet safety partnership, CybersafeKY. This partnership is dedicated to educating parents across Kentucky on how to keep their kids safe online. I am excited about our new cybersafety initiatives and encourage parents to attend our upcoming CybersafeKY regional parent workshops in Hazard (Oct. 15) and Bowling Green (Oct.22). These events are free and registration is available online at http://ag.ky.gov/cybersafety/. Thanks to the generosity of ConnectKentucky, we’re giving away 25 Lexmark printers and a Dell laptop at each event. I look forward to seeing you there.
I also encourage you to take a few minutes of your time to watch our new cybersafety video, available at www.ag.ky.gov.
On Sunday, Oct. 11, I’ll be among the speakers at a Community Forum on Internet Safety at Bellarmine University from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Frazier Hall. My friend Mark Neblett, who partnered with me to promote cybersafety legislation in Kentucky, will also be speaking about the devastating toll cyberbullying can have on kids.
There was an important victory for Kentucky consumers this week. Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate upheld the constitutionality of Kentucky’s price-gouging statute in a ruling my office sought in our lawsuit against Marathon Oil, Marathon Petroleum and Speedway SuperAmerica. Our lawsuit alleges price-gouging in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Please see our press release for more information.
Finally, I look forward to talking about the latest news from my office on Monday with WQXE Radio’s Lee Bramlett in Elizabethtown, WAIN’s Lisa Clark in Columbia and WCCK’s Greg Leath in Calvert City. On Tuesday, I’ll be catching up with my good friend Francene on her morning show on 84 WHAS.
October 2, 2009
In May of 1999, Pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. Inc. began aggressively marketing its anti-inflammatory drug Vioxx. Merck promoted Vioxx as a safer alternative to traditional Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS), like Aspirin or Ibuprofen. What consumers were not told was that Vioxx carried with it the potential for dangerous cardiovascular side effects, including heart attack and stroke.
This week, I filed suit against Merck in Franklin Circuit Court alleging violations to Kentucky’s Consumer Protection Act related to Vioxx. Merck’s own studies, which were not disclosed to the FDA or the public at the time Vioxx was being marketed, warned of the increased risk of cardiovascular events.
Kentucky consumers have a right to know all of the risks associated with the prescription drugs they take. As Attorney General, I will continue to fight to protect consumers and enforce Kentucky’s Consumer Protection Law. For more information, please see our press release.
I’d like to thank the faculty and 5thgraders at Louisville’s Eisenhower Elementary School for their warm welcome yesterday. I talked to the students about how to protect themselves from Internet predators and how to safely visit popular social-networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. As a parent, keeping kids safe online is an issue that I am passionate about, and it’s a message I have carried to 24,000 students and parents across the Commonwealth.
Coming up on Monday, I’ll announce details of an expanded Internet safety partnership to educate parents and keep kids safe online, as well as upcoming regional Internet safety workshops for parents. I also look forward to talking on Monday morning to WNBS Radio’s Neal Bradley in Murray and Alan Watts at WKDZ Radio in Cadiz.
Don’t forget you can follow all of the latest news from my office via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
September 25, 2009
I was very pleased to announce this week that my office has been awarded a $3.94 Million grant from the American Resource and Recovery Act (ARRA) to expand Kentucky’s electronic warrant management (eWarrants) system into rural counties across the Commonwealth.
My top priority as Attorney General has been to make Kentucky a safer place to live, work and raise a family. This grant will improve public safety by helping to eliminate the backlog of un-served warrants and provide law enforcement with timely, electronic access to active warrant information. That means we can get potentially violent criminals off of the streets more quickly.
The ARRA grant is truly a victory for the criminal justice community in Kentucky and I look forward to working closely with our partners at the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security, Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), Kentucky State Police and County Attorneys in expanding this system into nearly all of Kentucky’s rural counties. For more information, please see our press release.
Another one of my top priorities has been to make the Internet a safer place for Kentucky kids. In addition to passage of my comprehensive cybercrimes legislation, I’ve travelled the state to educate Kentucky students, teachers and parents about the dangers that exist online through my cybersafety presentation. Over the past two years, my office has presented more than 100 programs, reaching more than 24,000 people. In the coming weeks, I’ll announce details about two upcoming regional cybersafety workshops that I’ll be taking part in as well as new cybersafety initiatives.
To keep track of our upcoming events as well the latest news from my office, you can follow us via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
September 18, 2009
Columbia Gas customers in central Kentucky will be glad to know that my office reached a settlement agreement this week with Columbia to reduce the company’s proposed rate hike by nearly 50%. My Office of Rate Intervention, which serves as a watch dog for consumers, has worked with numerous other agencies, including AARP, the Community Action Council and Lexington’s Urban County Council, to reduce, as much as possible, any increase to Columbia’s 91,000 customers. Please see our press release.
Additionally, this settlement agreement eliminates Columbia’s request for a rate mechanism that would have nearly tripled customers’ monthly natural gas bills. It also implements a demand side management program to help customers conserve gas and ultimately lower their bills.
Columbia’s original rate hike request was, in our opinion, unacceptable. I appreciate the company’s willingness to work with us and to ultimately shave $5 million from their rate hike request. This is clearly a victory for consumers in central Kentucky, particularly our senior citizens and those struggling to make ends meet in the 33 counties Columbia Gas serves. I will continue to closely examine all utility rate increases to protect consumers from unnecessary or excessive charges. Since I took office in January 2008, we have saved ratepayers more than $95 million.
Also this week, it was a privilege to speak to the approximately 200 prosecutors and investigators from across the country who attended the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units (NAMFCU) Annual Conference in Louisville, hosted by my office. These people work day-in and day-out to combat Medicaid Fraud and are tireless crusaders for our most vulnerable citizens.
Finally, I’m looking forward to visiting with both U of L and UK fans at tomorrow’s Governor’s Cup at Commonwealth Stadium. Kentucky is fortunate to have such a wonderful in-state rivalry between two great universities.
September 11, 2009
I am honored to host next week’s National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units (NAMFCU) Annual Conference in Louisville. This event will bring together prosecutors and investigators from across the country who are dedicated to combating Medicaid fraud and protecting our most vulnerable citizens. Seeking justice in these types of crimes, particularly those that involve the abuse and neglect of the elderly, has been a top priority of mine. For more information on the NAMFCU conference, please see our press release.
Since I took office in January 2008, my Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control has tripled the number of elder abuse investigations and is currently prosecuting or has referred for prosecution nearly 50 cases of elder abuse, neglect and fraud. Kentucky families can be assured I will continue to fight to protect our elderly and vulnerable citizens and ensure that justice is served in cases of abuse, neglect and fraud.
My Medicaid Fraud Division has also recovered or been awarded approximately $80 million in federal and state recoveries for Kentucky’s Medicaid program. That total includes the recent $16 million settlement we announced with Pfizer over Medicaid fraud and consumer protection violations. During these tough economic times, it is gratifying to be able to recover this money on behalf of the Medicaid program and Kentucky taxpayers.
I look forward to spending time with folks in McCracken County tomorrow at the St. John 49th Annual Picnic. This is a wonderful Western Kentucky tradition that benefits the beautiful St. John Catholic Church. Coming up on Wednesday, Sept. 16, I’ll be chatting with my friend Terry Meiners on 84 WHAS radio. I hope you can tune in.
Finally, I know I am not alone in reflecting on where I was on this day eight years ago. September 11, 2001. That day will forever live in our hearts and minds. None of us who've seen the tragic images from that day will ever forget the pain, the bravery and the thousands of lives lost at the hands of terrorists.
We lost a lot on that day eight years ago, but we did not lose our resolve. As Americans, we turned tragedy and grief into action. I hope you will join me today in observing the first National Day of Service and Remembrance. As we pay tribute today to the 9/11 victims, let us also commit to serving our communities. Let us commit to turning a day marked by tragedy and sorrow into one marked by goodness, service and compassion. Together, we can improve communities across the Commonwealth and create a brighter future for our children. I hope you'll hug members of your family a little tighter today and let those you care about know how much you love them. May we never forget - may we resolve to move forward.
September 4, 2009
The record $2.3 billion settlement announced this week with Pfizer sent an important message to drug manufacturers that deceptive marketing and illegal promotion of drugs will not be tolerated. My office has been working in conjunction with the federal government and other states to reach this historic agreement.
I was pleased to announce that Kentucky’s total state and federal recovery for the Medicaid Program, as part of the Pfizer settlement, is $16 million. Kentucky’s state share of the restitution and additional recoveries is nearly $4.8 million. I also joined with 42 other state attorneys general in reaching an agreement with Pfizer this week over violations to consumer protection laws related to the off-label marketing of the antipsychotic drug Geodon. Kentucky will receive an additional $663,000 from that settlement. In total, Kentucky will receive $5.4 million from the Pfizer settlement. For more information, please see our press release.
During a time of unprecedented state budget cuts, every dollar saved can make a difference. With this week’s Pfizer settlement, my Medicaid Fraud & Abuse Control Division has collected and been awarded nearly $80 million in recoveries for taxpayers since I took office in January 2008.
Also this week, I enjoyed taking part in the Kentucky World Trade Day awards luncheon today. It was a pleasure meeting with business leaders from across the Commonwealth, as well as trade representatives from around the world.
As always, it was nice chatting with my good friend Terry Meiners on 84 WHAS. I’ll be a guest on the Francene Show, also on 84 WHAS, on Tuesday, September 8.
Finally, I’d like to wish everyone a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend. I hope you’ll join me in honoring the working men and women of Kentucky who've helped build this country and make it great.
August 28, 2009
Last year, my office joined other state attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in a nationwide crackdown on illegal telemarketers called “Operation Telephoney.” This was one of the largest telemarketing fraud sweeps ever coordinated by the FTC.
I am pleased to announce that, as a result of this joint effort, more than 1,000 Kentuckians will receive refund checks as part of a settlement with SureTouch Long Distance. Today, my Office of Consumer Protection mailed a total of 1,078 checks to former SureTouch Long Distance customers across the Commonwealth. The refund checks range from $5 to $433.44.
I want to thank our partners at the FTC and Kentucky State Police Sgt. David Millay who assisted us with the investigation. We have made it clear to businesses that deceptive marketing practices will not be tolerated and we will vigorously enforce the consumer protection and telemarketing laws in this state for the benefit of all Kentuckians. For more information, please see our latest press release.
I also issued a warning today to Kentucky senior citizens about the “Grandparents Scam,” or the “Emergency Scam,” that preys upon the generosity and concern grandparents have for their grandchildren. We have gotten calls from consumers about this phone scam and at least one victim lost $6,000 after falling for the scheme. If you suspect you have been a victim of a scam, contact our Consumer Protection Hotline at 888-432-9257. More information on the “Grandparents Scam” is available in our press release.
Also this week, I had a great time visiting with folks at the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s annual Kentucky Country Ham Breakfast at the state fair. The auction is always lively, particularly with this year’s record $1.3 million bid.
Finally, I hope you can tune into WKYT-TV Channel 27’s Kentucky Newsmakers show airing at 11 a.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. on Sunday. I talked to host Bill Bryant about my creation of Kentucky’s first statewide prescription drug abuse task force, recent storm and flooding scams and other news from my office.
August 21, 2009
As Attorney General, I have made fighting prescription drug abuse a priority. It is a problem that has touched families across Kentucky, mine included. This is an epidemic that is claiming lives, young and old, and shattering families in every corner of the Commonwealth.
Yesterday, I was pleased to announce the creation of Kentucky’s first statewide prescription drug abuse task force. A $50,000 grant from the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI) will serve as seed money to intensify our investigations statewide into doctor shopping, drug trafficking, overprescribing physicians and illegal out-of-state pharmacies. The task force currently has five investigators from my office and two from law enforcement departments in Eastern Kentucky. We are in the process of soliciting participation in the task force from law enforcement agencies in communities across Kentucky.
While prescription drug abuse has affected families across the country, Kentucky led the nation in the use of prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in 2008. During the past five years, fatal drug overdoses in Kentucky have doubled and one in five teens admits he or she has abused a prescription medication of some sort. As a father, I find these statistics alarming, and they have prompted us to redouble our efforts to address this problem not just in Eastern Kentucky, but in communities across Kentucky.
I appreciate NADDI President John Burke for his generous grant. I’d also like to thank our other partners in this effort, the county attorneys and commonwealth’s attorneys who take these cases before a judge and jury.
Ultimately, it is families who are on the front line of this battle. They are the ones who live this nightmare day-in and day-out. Prescription pill abuse is robbing Kentucky of good kids, like 19-year-old Sarah Shay and 22-year-old Savannah Kissick, both of Morehead. Their mothers, Dr. Karen Shay and Lynn Kissick, were with me yesterday as I announced creation of the task force and they have pledged to help us as we work to educate Kentucky families about the devastating effects of pain pills and addiction.
Together, we can make Kentucky a safer place to live, work and raise a family. For more information on the task force and my comprehensive drug diversion efforts, please see our latest press release.
August 14, 2009
I am pleased to report this week that the Federal Trade Commission has agreed to review the data my office has gathered on inflated gas prices in some areas of the state. I spent about an hour on the phone Monday, August 10, with FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. I expressed my concerns about the unfair market advantage that I believe Marathon has had in Kentucky since it merged with Ashland in 1998. This potentially illegal monopoly has resulted in gas prices that are about 20-cents higher in the Louisville area.
I have been pushing for this meeting for some time and was gratified to be able to address these issues personally with Chairman Leibowitz. The fact that his staff will review our data and investigative information is certainly a welcome development.
As Attorney General, I can't control international supply and demand, but I can ensure that companies that engage in price gouging are held accountable and that Kentuckians are paying a fair price at the pumps.
I will continue to work with Chairman Leibowitz and Congressman John Yarmuth to make sure that this issue is addressed.
August 7, 2009
After taking some time-off to spend with my wife and new baby, it has been nice getting back to Frankfort and focusing on the many important issues affecting Kentucky families. Of course, my thoughts this week have been with the hundreds of families whose homes, cars and businesses were damaged by Tuesday’s record-breaking rainfall and flash flooding. Although it is difficult to again be faced with costly clean-up after a storm, we should count our blessings that no deaths or serious injuries were reported.
In the wake of severe storms and natural disasters, we see the best and worst in people. I want to caution those who have suffered storm damage about fly-by-night contractors as well as natural disaster scams. If you suspect you are being targeted by a “storm chaser” or need to report any other incident of possible fraud or shoddy repair work, contact our Consumer Protection Hotline at 888-432-9257.
If you were among the hundreds of Kentuckians whose vehicles were damaged by flood water, our latest press release has some important information and tips for you. Consumers also need to be aware that some unscrupulous car dealers will try to sell flood-damaged vehicles. When looking for a used car, look for tell-tale signs of flood damage such as watermarks along the body of a vehicle or traces of mud in the engine or on electrical parts.
I’ll have more on this and other news from my office on Tuesday, August 11 with Francene on 84 WHAS. I hope you can tune in. And in the coming weeks, I’ll have some important announcements on our drug enforcement and cybersafety initiatives.
July 31, 2009
I’m looking forward to visiting with folks at Saturday’s Fancy Farm Picnic in Western Kentucky. There will no doubt be plenty of great BBQ and lively discussion. I’ll be at several of the events, so, stop-by and say hello.
As many of you know, my wife, Elizabeth, and I celebrated the birth of our first child on July 21. It has been a joy getting settled in at home with Eva and Elizabeth. Both are doing well and we thank you again for all of the warm wishes.
I’ll be back in the office next week and look forward to making some important announcements in the coming weeks regarding our drug enforcement and cybersafety initiatives.
July 24, 2009
It is with great joy that Elizabeth and I celebrated the birth this week of our daughter, Evangeline "Eva" Louise. Eva was born at 3:55 p.m. on Tuesday, July 21. She weighed 7 lbs, 11 oz and was 20" long at birth. Eva is a healthy and beautiful little girl. Both mom and baby are doing great and are looking forward to going home.
Elizabeth and I were thrilled that both of our families were able to be with us to share in this special day. We also appreciate the many warm wishes we have received from friends across Kentucky as we begin this new chapter in our lives. Becoming parents is something Elizabeth and I have looked forward to for some time. We are truly blessed to have Eva in our lives and to have the love and support of both of our families and our wonderful friends here in Kentucky.
After taking a few days off to spend time with Elizabeth and Eva, I look forward to getting back to Frankfort and continuing our efforts to make Kentucky a better place to live, work and raise a family.
July 17, 2009
As Attorney General, I’ve had the good fortune to meet a lot of terrific Kentuckians. This week, I had the privilege of meeting three outstanding young men who are participating in Kentucky’s first-ever Badges for Baseball program. Andre Teague, Jr., 10, Layron Logan, Jr., 10, and Marquis Nelson, 13, toured the Capitol building on Wednesday and spent some time with us here in the Office of the Attorney General.
Andre, Layron and Marquis were among five outstanding Badges for Baseball participants selected to attend the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation summer camp in Aberdeen, Maryland. These young men are leaders on the ball field, in the classroom and in their communities. They are also are examples of the positive influence this program is having on youth who need a helping hand.
Badges for Baseball is a youth development program that pairs disadvantaged kids with law enforcement professionals who serve as coaches and mentors. Shortly after I took office, I attended a meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General and had the privilege to have dinner with Cal Ripken, Jr., who was promoting his family foundation’s "Badges for Baseball" program. I knew this was a program we needed in Kentucky.
Working with the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, Congressman John Yarmuth, Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, Metro Louisville Police, Louisville Slugger and the Kentuckiana Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs, in May we were able to launch a pilot program in Louisville. Two months later, Badges for Baseball has nearly 100 youth participants who are not only learning the basics of baseball but the importance of respect, perseverance and making smart choices that will have a positive impact on their futures.
I hope to expand this program in Kentucky. I have requested federal stimulus money to bring Badges for Baseball to at least 10 other Kentucky counties. I should hear something by the end of July.
Also this week, I enjoyed some lively conversation with my good friends Francene and Terry Meiners on 84 WHAS. Coming up on Monday, I’ll be on WAVE 3 Listens with Charla Young from 10:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m.
July 10, 2009
It has been a busy week here in Frankfort and in the Conway household. My wife, Elizabeth, and I are anxiously awaiting the arrival this month of our first child, Eva. We could not be more excited and certainly appreciate all of the well wishes we have received as we prepare to welcome our little girl into the world.
I also marked a milestone this week having turned 40 on July 5; a fact that didn’t slip past my good friend Terry Meiners during our recent conversation on 84 WHAS. I did manage to play some golf but otherwise enjoyed a quiet birthday.
Speaking of milestones, the Cybercrimes Unit I created last summer marked its 1st anniversary in June. Despite 20% budget cuts, I was able to restructure my office to create a unit dedicated to investigating crimes that occur online. In just one year, our Cybercrimes Unit has launched 50 child pornography investigations, seized more than 34,000 child pornographic images and videos, executed 21 search warrants and made nine arrests.
I appreciate the hard work of our Cybercrimes investigators, let by Bob Foster, Commissioner of our Department of Criminal Investigations. Together, we have helped make Kentucky a national model for Internet safety. Please see our press release for more information.
I enjoyed a breakfast meeting with our new interns here in the Office of the Attorney General. I appreciate the fact that they are giving a portion of their summer to public service and hope they gain some valuable insight into the work we do here from protecting consumers and assisting victims to investigating Medicaid fraud and elderly abuse cases.
I have also had an opportunity this week to engage in debate and discussion with elected officials from across the country as part of the Aspen Rodel Fellowship Program in Colorado. I am one of 24 elected officials selected for the 2008 class of fellows. This is a bi-partisan group that meets periodically to come up with solutions to some of the challenges we face here in Kentucky and in communities across the country.
July 2, 2009
As we gather with friends and family this 4th of July weekend, I hope you join me in taking a moment to reflect on the many blessings we have personally and as Americans.
These have been trying times for many families across the country and here in Kentucky. It is during these tough times that we need to remember it is the faith, determination and unwavering spirit of the American people that drive this nation. As Kentuckians did in the wake of the recent ice and wind storms, we pull together, we help our neighbors and we overcome adversity.
Let us also give thanks on this 4th of July holiday to the men and women who are in harm's way fighting to defend freedom in the far corners of the world. And may we take a moment to remember those who've fought over the centuries to keep our country free. Their sacrifices will not be forgotten.
Even in hard times, we are a privileged and blessed nation. I am proud to be an American and proud to be a Kentuckian.
Have a safe and enjoyable 4th of July.
June 26, 2009
As Attorney General, I have made it one of my priorities to make the Internet a safer place for children. Yesterday, my comprehensive cybercrimes legislation went into effect bringing Kentucky laws up to date with technology. This was a proud moment for me and for the many members of the Kentucky House and Senate who helped me champion this issue.
The new cybercrimes law gives both law enforcement and parents the tools they need to better protect Kentucky children from Internet predators. It allows us to address the modern law enforcement challenges we face and will better protect children in every corner of the Commonwealth.
One of the major provisions of the new law is that it makes it a crime for registered sex offenders in Kentucky to access social networking sites used by minors, such as MySpace and Facebook. And for the children who have fallen victim to the darker side of the Internet, I am pleased to say cyberstalking is now a crime in Kentucky.
Also this week, we saw the special legislative session come to a close. As Chairman of the Prosecutor’s Advisory Council, I am grateful that both the House and Senate recognized the critical need to sufficiently fund the commonwealth and county attorneys. It’s clear that the General Assembly did not want a recurrence of the painful budget cuts that resulted in unpaid furloughs for those who work tirelessly to ensure that our criminal justice system functions properly.
Finally, with this week’s $16 million verdict against generic–drug giant Sandoz for defrauding the Medicaid program, my office has collected more than $59 million for the Medicaid program and for Kentucky taxpayers since I took office in January 2008. We will continue to ensure that drug companies truthfully report their prices and do not engage in false or misleading marketing of their products.
June 19, 2009
With the special session underway, it has been a busy week here in Frankfort. On Monday, prior to the start of the session, I issued an advisory legal opinion, as requested by Rep. Jody Richards on May 7, on whether a constitutional amendment would be needed to legalize video lottery terminals at Kentucky racetracks.
After thorough analysis, my staff and I concluded that the General Assembly may, at its own discretion, enact Gov. Beshear’s bill allowing VLTs at racetracks without a constitutional amendment. This was an extensive legal opinion that I believe will be persuasive in any court in the Commonwealth.
I would like to thank my staff for their tireless efforts in expediting this advisory opinion. Given the 20% budget cut my office has endured over the past year-and-a-half, we are left with fewer people doing more work. I appreciate their hard work and commitment to addressing this important issue in a timely manner.
I also want Kentuckians to know that prior to issuing the opinion I sought an opinion of the staff of the Executive Branch Ethics Commission on whether my father’s role as a horse owner and member of the Kentucky Racing Commission would pose a potential conflict for my office in this matter. A staff opinion letter received on May 26 stated it would not. I felt it would be prudent and wise to make certain that the people of Kentucky and members of the General Assembly know that we checked on the ethical issues before proceeding.
As attorney general, my role is to provide guidance, when requested, to the General Assembly. I have fulfilled my statutory duty and I believe come to the proper legal conclusion on this issue. I want to make it clear that this advisory opinion is based on an extensive review of the law and does not speak to the wisdom of the policy considerations.
Finally, on this Father's Day weekend, I look forward to spending some quality time with my dad; a man who is a true inspiration to me. This Father’s Day also has special meaning for Elizabeth and I as we await the arrival of our first child, Eva. Have a wonderful and safe weekend.
June 5, 2009
As Kentucky’s chief law enforcement officer and chairman of the Prosecutors Advisory Council, I am very grateful to Gov. Beshear for recognizing the critical needs of the state’s prosecutors. Earlier this week, he announced that his proposed budget for next year included increased funding for prosecutors, public defenders and corrections. This additional funding is crucial for public safety and for ensuring that our criminal justice system continues to function.
The Unified Prosecutorial System, which consists of county attorneys, commonwealth’s attorneys and their employees, suffered cuts in excess of $4 million in fiscal year 2009. To prevent layoffs, employees endured three weeks of furloughs, the most drastic in all of state government. In several communities, commonwealth’s attorneys weren’t in the courtroom because they were answering phones back in their offices.
Prosecutors have done their best during this unprecedented state budget crisis. I am proud of how they have managed through this, and I am hopeful that those who work day-in and day-out to protect Kentucky families will receive the necessary funds to avoid more painful cuts.
Many state agencies, mine included, have seen their budgets cut to the bone. My office has been cut about 20% and now faces an additional 2.6% cut for fiscal year 2010, as per the Governor’s proposal. This is a tough task. Be assured, I will not let any of our mission critical functions be affected.
Finally, I would like to congratulate the five youth participating in the Badges for Baseball program in Louisville who were selected to attend next week’s Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation summer camp in Aberdeen, Maryland. This will be a wonderful opportunity for them to not only learn about baseball but also the importance of respect, leadership, a good work ethic and making the right choices in life.
Thanks to our new partnership with the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, Louisville Slugger and Louisville Metro Police, approximately 100 at-risk youth will participate in the Badges for Baseball program this summer at the various branches of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kentuckiana and Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club.
May 29, 2009
I was honored today to participate in the annual dedication ceremony of the Kentucky Victims of Homicide Memorial. Sadly, 19 new names were added to the memorial at Louisville’s Resthaven Memorial Park. Many of these victims were children, whose families are still struggling to cope with their devastating loss.
You may recall some of these young victims; Cesar Ivan Cano, the little four-year-old who was kidnapped and murdered and Jemar, Demar and Marc Claybrooks and Aaron Sheilds who died tragically after catching a ride with a teenage driver in a stolen vehicle. The driver crashed after being pursued by police.
Riley Lawrence and Claudia Wadlington’s names were also added to the memorial. Just four and five-years-old, their lives were cut short in a hit and run accident.
Please join me in keeping all of the victims of violent crime and their families in your thoughts and prayers. Be assured, my office will continue to be a voice for victims who can no longer speak for themselves and a shoulder to cry on for those left behind.
Earlier this week, I spent some time with kids at East and West Jessamine middle schools to talk about cybersafety. I appreciated the warm welcome and look forward to continuing to remind Kentucky children, and their parents, about the importance of staying safe online.
Coming up on Monday, June 1, I’ll talk about the latest news from my office with Neal Bradley of WNBS Radio in Murray, Alan Watts of WKDZ in Cadiz and Myla Thomas of WBVR in Bowling Green.
May 22, 2009
Kentuckians who share my concern about the state’s inmate early release program will be pleased to know that the Kentucky Supreme Court has agreed to consider this important public safety issue. Oral arguments are scheduled in front of the Supreme Court on August 19th at 11 a.m.
I was glad this week to join the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and 47 other states in a nationwide crackdown on fraudulent charitable solicitors claiming to help police, firefighters and veterans. I look forward to working with local law enforcement across the Commonwealth, like Warren County Sheriff Jerry "Peanut" Gaines, a victim himself, in stopping these fraudulent solicitors. (Please see our press release)
In these tough economic times, every dollar matters and can make a difference for a Kentucky family in need. Please make sure that when you give to a charity, you are giving wisely. Information about charities and how much their solicitors are paid is available on our website http://tinyurl.com/6fouzu. Also available is the percentage of your donation that will actually go to the charity. To find out how a particular charity spends its money, review the Form 990 filed with the IRS.
I appreciated the invitation to speak last night about my new cybercrimes legislation at the Inn of the Court meeting at Northern Kentucky University’s Chase Law School. Assistant Deputy Attorney General Tad Thomas, a Chase graduate, and I enjoyed meeting with the judges, lawyers as well students who attended. My cybercrimes legislation goes into effect on June 25th.
Speaking of Cybersafety, next Wednesday, May 27, I’ll talk to students at East and West Jessamine County Middle Schools about the dangers that exist online and how kids can stay safe on the Internet.
Finally, as you spend time with family and friends over the long Memorial Day weekend, I hope you will take a moment to remember and honor the military men and women who have lost their lives in the service of our nation. Please also remember their loved ones who have shared in this sacrifice. Stay safe and enjoy the weekend.
May 15, 2009
Kentuckians on the "Do Not Call" list who have been harassed by the extended auto warranty calls should soon have some relief. I filed suit Thursday against the Nevada based company responsible for some of these calls. Today, Fayette Circuit Judge Kim Bunnell granted my request for a restraining order barring SVM, Inc., Fortress Secured, Inc., and their owner, Mike Bruce Moneymaker, from calling Kentucky consumers who have registered on the "Do Not Call" list.
These companies and the many others that are trying to scam consumers with these deceptive calls are now on notice that this type of harassment and disregard for the law will not be tolerated. (Please see our press release)
If you have not yet signed up for the "No Call" list, please visit www.nocall.ky.gov or call 888-382-1222. If you are already on the "No Call" list and you receive any telemarketing call you believe is in violation of the law, file a complaint with my office at the above web address or call 1-866-877-STOP (7867) to request a complaint form.
Coming up next week, my office will host a forum in Hopkinsville on how senior citizens can better protect themselves against scam artists. The May 20th public forum is one of dozens of Senior Crime Colleges we host around the state. For more information and specific dates, visit http://tinyurl.com/pgxznu.
On Monday, May 18, I’ll be talking about the latest news from my office with Les Cook of WASE in E-town, Julie Ann Williams of WCLU in Glasgow, Ann Petrie at WHVO in Cadiz and WBIO’s Mike Chaney in Owensboro. I’ll also be joining my friend Terry Meiners on his show on 84 WHAS Radio at 4:15 on Wednesday, May 20.
May 8, 2009
I am thrilled to be part of a wonderful new partnership here in Kentucky. On Tuesday, May 5, I joined with representatives from the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, Louisville Metro Police, Kentucky Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs, and Louisville Slugger to kick off the Badges for Baseball program in my hometown of Louisville. Congressman John Yarmuth and I began working with Mayor Jerry Abramson and Police Chief Robert White to start a pilot program in Jefferson County after we had dinner with Cal Ripken, Jr. shortly after I became Attorney General. Cal is a true hero and his family’s commitment to providing positive role models for disadvantaged youth is an inspiration.
Badges for Baseball has the potential to change the lives of at-risk kids in Louisville and I hope across the Commonwealth. (see our press release)
Elizabeth and I will be at the Galt House tonight for the New Deal Dinner and fundraiser hosted by the Women’s Network. Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, the granddaughter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, is the keynote speaker. We also look forward to visiting with folks and eating some great barbecue in Owensboro on Saturday for the International Bar-B-Q festival.
I’ll be making some radio calls on Monday morning, speaking with WQXE’s Lee Bramlett, WAIN’s Lisa Clark and WCCK’s Greg Leath. On Tuesday morning, I’ll be on with Francene on 84 WHAS.
May 1, 2009
Gray skies and the threat of rain aren’t dampening spirits here at Churchill Downs. This is truly a time for Kentucky to shine and it does, without fail, in all weather conditions.
I hope for a good showing today by my equine namesake, Jack Spratt, a contender in the American Turf Stakes. He had a respectable fifth place showing in the Lane’s End Stakes at Turfway Park in March. We’ll see how he does today. For the Derby, I’ve picked General Quarters, Dunkirk and Hold Me Back, the winner of the Lane’s End.
Elizabeth and I are enjoying seeing old friends and meeting new ones here at the track. Churchill Downs holds a special place in our hearts and in the hearts of so many Kentuckians. Whatever Derby traditions you have with family and friends, may it be a safe and enjoyable weekend.
April 24, 2009
Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Janie Miller and I issued an important fraud alert this week to Kentucky consumers who receive Social Security, SSI, VA and other disability payments. The federal government is preparing to distribute a one-time economic stimulus payment that could be a target of scam artists. This is a one-time payment of $250 per beneficiary that will be distributed by late May. Individuals served by these programs will not be asked to provide any personal information to receive the payments and should be on alert against any fraudulent attempts, either by email, phone or online advertisements. (see our press release)
Also this week, my office announced that Kentucky had received its annual payment of $116.9 million in tobacco settlement money as per the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). Since this landmark agreement went into effect, cigarette sales nationally are down at least 25%. The MSA provides funding for invaluable programs from agriculture to education.
Coming up on Monday, April 27, I’ll speak with about a dozen radio stations from across the Commonwealth as part of the Bellsouth Morning Line call at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
Finally, I hope you will join me in remembering Kentucky families who have been the victims of violent crimes. On Tuesday, April 28, I’ll host the 18th annual Kentucky Crime Victims Rights Day Rally in the Capitol Rotunda at 1 p.m. It’s open to the public.
April 17, 2009
I was reminded this week of how important it is for parents to monitor their children’s Internet activities and to know who their kids are talking to online (please see our press release). There are some simple steps you can take to make the Internet a safer place for kids. Keep the computer in the family room, kitchen or in an open area of your home and consider using monitoring and filtering software. Parents need to know that they are the front line of defense in protecting kids against cyberpredators.
On a lighter note, it has been a beautiful day in Kentucky. Spring has certainly arrived as has Derby fever. I enjoyed seeing all of the folks at the Derby Festival’s They’re Off! lunch today. Of course, hundreds of thousands will flock to Louisville’s waterfront tomorrow for Thunder Over Louisville 2009.
These are just two of the countless activities and events that make Kentucky a tremendous place to live, work and raise a family. I hope you and your family are able to get out this weekend and enjoy the warm weather and Kentucky sunshine.
April 10, 2009
I have some good news this week for Kentucky consumers. Since January of 2008 when I took office, my Office of Rate Intervention, which serves as a watchdog for consumers relating to health insurance, electricity, sewer, gas and telephone rates, has saved consumers approximately $83 million. Be assured we will continue to fight for fair and reasonable rates for Kentucky consumers!
One of the highlights of my week was speaking at the PRIDE World Drug Prevention Conference in Louisville. I was able to talk to 2,000 kids from across the country about the dangers of underage drinking and the importance of saying no to drugs. It was gratifying to see so many young people engaged in this important topic.
I also appreciated the Frankfort Rotary Club’s invitation to be a guest speaker. I briefed Rotary members on implementation of our comprehensive cybercrimes legislation here in Kentucky and other important news from my office.
Finally, I want Kentuckians to know how grateful I am and how much I enjoy serving as Attorney General. The work we are doing is making a difference for Kentucky families in every corner of the Commonwealth. We’ve taken on big oil, investigated high gas prices and fought price gouging. We’ve quadrupled prosecutions of elder abuse and in one year I have increased six-fold the amount of Medicaid fraud recovery for our taxpayers. On June 25, my cybercrimes legislation takes effect giving Kentucky children stronger protections against cyber predators. I am blessed to have this opportunity to not only help protect but to serve this wonderful Commonwealth.
April 3, 2009
As April is Alcohol Awareness Month, I hope you will take a moment to watch the Public Service Announcement I recorded with Olympic Gold Medalist Misty May-Treanor and the Century Council. We’re encouraging Kentucky kids to live a healthy, active lifestyle and to say ‘no’ to underage drinking. The key to stopping underage drinking is communication. Please visit www.asklistenlearn.com for more information. You can watch the PSA on our video page.
I had an opportunity this week to talk to members of the Henry County Chamber of Commerce about my recently passed cybercrimes legislation and other news from my office. I enjoyed the meeting and appreciate the invitation. My cybercrimes legislation goes into effect June 25.
On Monday, April 6, I look forward to talking with Neal Bradley of WNBS Radio in Murray, Alan Watts of WKDZ in Cadiz and Myla Thomas of WBVR in Bowling Green.
Best of luck to the Lady Cards this weekend as they make their first trip to the NCAA Final Four and congratulations to UK and John Calipari as they begin a new chapter in Big Blue history.
March 27, 2009
As Attorney General, my top priority has been to make Kentucky a safer place to live, work and raise a family. That’s why it was so gratifying yesterday to watch as Gov. Beshear signed into law my cybercrimes legislation (HB 315). This was not only a personal victory, but a victory for law enforcement and families across the Commonwealth. This historic legislation, which goes into effect in late June, will help us protect Kentucky children from cyber predators well into the future. See Video, Audio and Photos from the event.
I had a chance to visit with students from Salyersville Elementary in Magoffin County at the bill singing. It is rewarding to think that this new law will provide additional protections for these kids. I also had an opportunity to meet with students from Louisville’s DuPont Manual High while they were visiting the Capitol.
As always, I had a lively discussion with Francene on 84 WHAS Radio and will be chatting with Terry Meiners, also on 84 WHAS, next Wednesday, April 1 at 5:15 p.m.. I look forward to speaking at the Henry County Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Tuesday.
Finally, this week we launched our new KYOAG Twitter site. This gives us another communication tool to share important information with the public. Follow us at Twitter.com.
March 20, 2009
It was great to spend some time today in Florence as a guest on ICN6 Cable's Northern Kentucky Magazine. Host Pat Crowley and I were able to talk about the latest news from my office as well as other issues. The program aired live today but will be re-broadcast at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Sat. and Sun.
Also this week, I met with YMCA statewide leaders at the Capitol to discuss the progress my office has made in cracking down on child abuse and online predators who target children. It was a great opportunity to meet with these folks who are such wonderful advocates and leaders for Kentucky children.
And it wouldn’t be spring in Kentucky without mentioning basketball and horse racing. I finalized my NCAA bracket this week. Like President Obama, I predict a Louisville-UNC national championship game, but I’ve got Louisville winning 75-73.
I’m also hoping for a victory this weekend for my namesake, Jack Spratt. He’s a contender in the Lane’s End Stakes, a Derby prep race at Turfway Park.
March 13, 2009
It continues to be busy in Frankfort as the legislative session draws to an end. Those of us who work day- in and day-out to uphold the laws of the Commonwealth and to keep Kentucky families safe were extremely pleased that legislators provided additional money for prosecutors. As I told 84 WHAS’ Francene on Tuesday, this money is desperately needed to keep moving cases through the court system. I hope that Governor Beshear will approve the funding and do all he can to ensure that our justice system continues to function adequately.
I’d like to thank the wonderful folks at the Century Council and Franklin County High School for inviting me to participate in the Brandon Silveria Century Council DUI event on Wednesday. Brandon, a young man who was permanently disabled after drinking and driving at age 17, had a very powerful message for students about the dangers of underage drinking and drunk driving. More information about Brandon is available through the Century Council’s website.
Coming up on Tuesday, I’ll be talking to Lee Bramlett with WQXE Radio, WAIN’s Lisa Clark, WCCK’s Greg Leath and May Radio’s Joe Kinzer.
March 6, 2009
The Spring Meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General proved to be a productive and energizing experience. I was able to meet one-on-one with Attorney General Eric Holder. I was pleased to hear him talk about creating a more active anti-trust division within the Justice Department which would look at such matters as the merger of Marathon and Ashland Oil and its impact on the gasoline wholesale market in Kentucky. I also plan to speak to the new FTC chairman soon about our request for a review of the merger.
It was fascinating to tour the U.S. Supreme Court and to meet Chief Justice John Roberts. It’s a very different feeling to be in a building in Washington D.C. where cameras are not allowed. It was an inspiring moment to visit the court.
Other sessions I attended dealt with cybersafety and the economic downturn. I think I join all of the attorneys general in applauding the restoration of the crime and drug enforcement funds (Byrne/JAG funds) that we hope will assist my office in creating new digital forensics labs in Kentucky and establishing Kentucky’s first prescription drug abuse task force.
Elizabeth and I look forward to attending tonight’s 3rd Annual Green Tie Bash sponsored by the Young Professional Association of Louisville and Louisville Urban League Young Professionals. Proceeds will benefit Brightside, Louisville’s agency devoted to keeping the city clean and green.
On Saturday, I'll be a guest speaker at the Internet Safety for Parents Forum at Christ Church United Methodist in Louisville. The forum is from 9 to noon. I’ll talk about keeping kids safe online and sharing other important cybersafety information beginning at 9:30.
Finally, my namesake, Jack Spratt, finished a disappointing 8th place in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park, which is a Kentucky Derby prep race. Let’s just say he’s a turf horse, not a dirt horse.
February 27, 2009
I was honored this week to speak at the Sexual Assault Awareness Month kick-off rally here at the Capitol. Eileen Recktenwald, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs has launched an innovative campaign to not only spread awareness but to find ways to prevent sexual violence that affects one in nine Kentucky adult women. See Video from the event.
Sadly, more than half of female sexual assault victims are under the age of 18 when they are attacked. That is why I have joined Rep. Johnny Bell in drafting legislation (HB 315) to strengthen laws to protect children from Internet predators. This bill will improve the investigation and prosecution of child sexual assault cases across the Commonwealth. See Video from the event.
Helping us with our cybersafety initiatives is one of Kentucky’s strongest corporate citizens, AT&T. On Tuesday, I joined Kentucky Child Now and the Kentucky Department of Education in announcing a $77,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation that will fund two regional development workshops for parents and teachers and 30 student assemblies during the 2009 calendar year. This is generous gift that will certainly help us better educate parents and students on how to stay safe online.
Also this week, I traveled to Bowling Green to meet with reporters at WBKO and WKYU and WKU Radio. As always, it was a pleasure to be a guest on WAVE 3’s Troubleshooter with Charla Young and WKYT’s Kentucky Newsmakers with Bill Bryant.
February 13, 2009
Two issues that I am passionate about have topped my agenda this week; consumer protection and cybersafety. I spent Monday touring storm-damaged areas in Grayson, Hopkins and McCracken Counties and was able to share information with folks about price-gouging and suspicious, fly-by-night contractors or "storm chasers." During my visit, I was struck by the widespread devastation and the resilience of folks in these communities; friends have been helping friends and strangers helping strangers.
Riding with a crew from Alabama Power, I was able to see firsthand the ice storm’s toll in Grayson County. The weight of the ice brought down every utility pole for four contiguous miles. I also met with Judge Executive Gary Logsdon, Sheriff Rick Clemons and Leitchfield Mayor William Thomason and would like to recognize them for their tireless efforts on behalf of local residents.
Two-weeks after the storm, there were still more than twelve thousand residents without power in Hopkins and McCracken Counties. I briefed local officials, including McCracken Sheriff John Hayden, Judge Executive Van Newberry and emergency management officials, on the approximately two dozen complaints we’d received from the Paducah- area on price-gouging. They too have been working tirelessly on behalf of storm victims.
At the Capitol this week, I discussed the ice storm with representatives of Kentucky’s Public Service Commission. Executive Director Jeff Derouen assured me that the PSC will address a number of issues including maintenance of rights of way, adequacy of maintenance staff and other utility issues in an effort to reduce the amount of time customers would be without power in the wake of future storms.
Finally, on Wednesday, Representative Johnny Bell and I presented our expanded cybersafety bill to the House Judiciary Committee. I’m pleased to say HB 315, which will update and strengthen Kentucky laws to better protect children from Internet predators, passed unanimously. This is legislation we desperately need in Kentucky. I ask that you please join me in calling your representatives and senators to ensure passage of this important legislation.
February 6, 2009
Once again, I have been moved by the strength, courage and compassion of Kentuckians in the face of disaster. As we saw after September’s windstorm, the residents of this state pull together during trying times. For the families who lost loved ones at the hands of the ice storm, you are in my thoughts and prayers.
My thoughts are also with the tens of thousands of families across the Commonwealth still without power and the hundreds of thousands more who are faced with costly repairs and clean-up.
I appreciated the opportunity earlier this week to speak with county judge executives and magistrates at the Kentucky County Judge Executive Association meeting in Lexington. I was able to brief them on our efforts to protect Kentucky consumers in the wake of this storm.
On Monday, February 9, I’ll visit storm damaged areas in Grayson, Hopkins and McCracken Counties to share information with local officials and residents about price-gouging and fly-by-night contractors.
January 23, 2009
It was my pleasure this week to speak at the Central Kentucky Co-Op meeting. I was able to talk to area school superintendents about my cybersafety and cybercrimes initiatives and the partnerships we’ve formed with state, federal and local law enforcement agencies. I believe these new partnerships and our newly created cybercrimes unit will help us better protect children from online predators.
Additionally, I’d like to thank the folks in our Office of Consumer Protection for their hard work processing and investigating the nearly 2,000 price gouging complaints we received as a result of Hurricane Ike. I’m pleased with the settlements we announced this week and believe they have sent a message to retailers that if you’re going to engage in this kind of behavior, there will be consequences. I also appreciate Governor Beshear’s quick action and willingness to assist us in protecting Kentucky consumers. For more information, please see our Press Release.
January 16, 2009
I have had an amazing opportunity this week to participate in the Aspen Rodel Fellowship program in Colorado as one of 24 elected officials in the country chosen for the 2008 class of fellows. Evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, the class has given us a chance to come up with bi-partisan solutions to some of the challenges we’re facing here in Kentucky, as well as in other communities across the country.
Finally, like many of you, I plan to take time out of my day on January 20 to watch the historic inauguration of our next President, Barack Obama. I hope on Tuesday we all feel a renewed sense of urgency to each play a role in creating a more perfect union for our country and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
January 9, 2009
The first full week of 2009 has proved to be a busy one. I enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on our 2008 accomplishments and my first year in office during a meeting this week with the great folks over at the Kentucky Council of Area Development Districts.
Also this week, I visited with the state’s top business and political leaders at the Kentucky Chamber Dinner Thursday night in Lexington.
As always, I enjoyed some lively discussion with my friend Terry Meiners over at WHAS Radio. I also look forward to talking with WQXE, WAIN, May Radio and WCCK first thing Monday morning (Jan.12). On Tuesday, I’ll catch up with Francene during the 9 a.m. hour of her talk show on 84 WHAS.