December 22, 2010
As another year draws to a close, I want you to know what an honor and privilege it is to serve the citizens of this great Commonwealth as Attorney General. I am proud of all that we have accomplished for Kentucky families over the past year despite these challenging economic times. I look forward to highlighting our many achievements in 2010 in the coming weeks and announcing new initiatives that will build on my commitment to make Kentucky a safer place to live, work and raise a family.
Elizabeth, Eva and I wish you and your family a safe and joyous holiday season and best wishes for a happy New Year.
December 17, 2010
As Kentucky's chief consumer protection advocate, I am very concerned about the issue of proprietary education in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. This is an issue that affects the hopes, dreams and pocketbooks of Kentuckians who are trying to make a better life for themselves and their families.
On Wednesday, Dec. 15, I announced that my office had launched an investigation to determine if some of these for-profit schools may have violated Kentucky's Consumer Protection law or other state laws. My Office of Consumer Protection has issued subpoenas to seven proprietary colleges who do business in the Commonwealth seeking information on the schools' student-loan default rates, advertising claims, student recruitment practices, accreditation claims as well as transferability of credits, among other issues.
I want to make sure these institutions are as interested in educating their students as they are in collecting federal loan money and that Kentucky students are not racking up large debts for degrees or certifications that may have little benefit or value to them in the real world.
We have already heard from numerous students on this issue. If you have a complaint about a for-profit school in Kentucky, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, please see our press release.
I'd also like to congratulate the winners of our statewide Prescription Drug Abuse Public Service Announcement (PSA) competition for high school and middle school students. The 1st place winner in the high school division is John Andrew Stone of Bardstown High School. Heather Workman of Sheldon Clark High School in Inez is the 2nd place winner. The winning PSA in the middle school division was produced by Abby Willgruber of West Middle School in Shelbyville.
I appreciate all of the students who participated in our PSA competition and who are helping us spread the word about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. I hope you'll take a few moments to watch the winning PSAs that have been linked on our Prescription Drug Abuse Education page.
Finally, I enjoyed celebrating the season with my staff today at our annual holiday open house here in Frankfort. Despite unprecedented budget cuts, my staff has continued to protect the mission critical functions of this office and provide outstanding service to our fellow citizens. I appreciate the work they do each and every day to make Kentucky a safer place to live, work and raise a family.
December 10, 2010
We successfully launched the electronic warrant management (eWarrant) system in Breathitt, Powell and Wolfe counties this week. With the addition of the 39th Judicial Circuit, we have implemented the eWarrant system in 13 Kentucky counties under the $3.9 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant awarded to my office in 2009.*
I appreciate my staff's unwavering commitment to this project and the support we have received from local officials and our state government partners. As a result of this continued cooperation, we are making progress toward our goal of launching the eWarrant system in 100 of Kentucky's rural counties by the end of 2011.
Coming up next week, my office will host a regional seminar in Lexington Dec. 13-15 on the effective prosecution of DUI cases. The annual training, funded by grant money obtained through the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety, provides prosecutors and police the tools they need to effectively enforce Kentucky's DUI laws and to protect the citizens of our Commonwealth. For more information, see our press release.
Our "Protecting Lives, Saving Futures" seminar creates a team building approach in the detection, apprehension and prosecution of impaired drivers. Representatives of Mothers Against Drunk Driving will also be in attendance. For more information, please see our press release.
* This project was supported by award No. 2009-SD-B9-0067, awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice.
December 3, 2010
Like many Kentuckians, I am deeply troubled by news that one of the nation's largest cattle brokerage companies failed to pay hundreds of Kentucky cattlemen, and more than 750 producers nationwide. I want to reassure farmers that my office will look at all possible avenues to provide remedies to those affected by Eastern Livestock's failure to pay up to $130 million for livestock it purchased. Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer and I have joined efforts to identify the affected producers and to determine if any state laws have been violated. We are also working closely with the U.S. Attorney's Office, FBI, U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General and U.S. Postal Inspection Service to assist in the federal investigation of Eastern Livestock.
Kentucky producers who have not received payment from Eastern Livestock need to file a complaint with my office by calling 502-696-5300 or by sending an e-mail. Farmers should also contact the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) Midwest Regional Office in Des Moines, Iowa, at (515) 323-2579 to find out about their rights under the bond provisions of the Packers and Stockyards Act.
Be assured, I have mobilized all of the resources in my office to help Kentucky farmers who have been victimized by Eastern Livestock. Additional information on our efforts is available in our press release.
This week, I also joined with the Better Business Bureau to warn Kentucky consumers that fraudulent charities and scam artists will try to prey on their generosity this holiday season. With double-digit unemployment, more Kentucky families are hurting and in need of a helping hand. So when you give to a charity, make sure you give wisely. Research the charity before you donate, find out what percentage of your donation goes to the charity and what percentage goes to a paid solicitor and ask if the charity is registered with the Office of the Attorney General. For more tips on giving wisely, please see our press release.
November 24, 2010
As we gather with family and friends this Thanksgiving holiday, I hope that you will join me in remembering those who are struggling or in need of a helping hand. These have been trying times and many of our neighbors are hurting.
Elizabeth and I look forward to spending time with both of our families this Thanksgiving and of course our most precious gift, Eva. We are truly blessed. From my family, and everyone here at the Attorney General’s Office, have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.
November 19, 2010
I appreciated the invitation to speak this morning at the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo) annual conference at the Galt House in Louisville. I updated Kentucky’s county officials on all that my office has done to protect consumers, combat Medicaid Fraud, make the Internet a safer place for our kids and address the scourge of prescription drug abuse, among our many other priority issues.
As Attorney General, I have sat across the table from many of these folks during times of disaster to offer my support and assistance. My door remains open and I will continue to work closely with Kentucky’s county officials to address pressing issues within their communities and across the Commonwealth. Working together, we can make Kentucky a safer place to live, work and raise a family.
I also had an opportunity to speak to University of Kentucky pharmacy students in Frankfort on Wednesday for a Student Legislative Day. These students will be among those on the front line in our battle against prescription drug abuse so I was pleased to answer their questions about this very serious problem in Kentucky and across the nation.
I continue to work closely with the Kentucky Pharmacists Association, concerned parents and our state and federal law enforcement partners to educate Kentucky teens about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs and the importance of monitoring and securing medications in the home. We’re taking this important message directly to Kentucky middle and high school students as part of the education and prevention initiative I launched in September.
For more information on our law enforcement and educational efforts on prescription drugs, please visit my RX Abuse page.
November 10, 2010
I am pleased to report that we had a successful roll-out this morning of the electronic warrant management system, eWarrants, in the 18th Judicial Circuit (Harrison, Nicholas, Pendleton and Robertson Counties). This system replaces the old paper warrants and is an important tool as it allows law enforcement to share information concerning active warrants. Counties that have the eWarrant system are seeing service rates on arrest warrants of up to 80% compared to approximately 25% with paper warrants.
This brings to seven the number of counties that have received the eWarrant system under a $3.9 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Grant awarded to my office last year. I appreciate the help we received from officials in the 18th Judicial Circuit. We will continue to work closely with our partners in this effort, the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Kentucky State Police, the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security and Open Portal Solutions, Inc., as we strive to implement the eWarrant system in 100 of Kentucky’s rural counties by the end of 2011.
On Friday, Nov. 12, the Office of the Attorney General will be closed as part of the budget strategy adopted by the Kentucky General Assembly. The six designated furlough days in Fiscal Year 2011 are estimated to save taxpayers approximately $24 million and prevent the loss of hundreds of state government jobs.
Additionally, our office will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 11 in observance of Veterans Day. I hope you and your family will take time tomorrow to attend a Veterans Day event or to thank a veteran you know for their service and sacrifice. The men and women, young and old, who have risked their lives to protect our freedom are the true heroes in our communities. Let us also remember those who are currently serving overseas. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
*This project was supported by award No. 2009-SD-B9-0067, awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice.
November 5, 2010
Each Election Day my attorneys, investigators and support staff work tirelessly patrolling precincts around Kentucky and responding to calls to our Election Fraud Hotline. Once again, my staff has shown its dedication and commitment to a fair and honest election for all Kentuckians. I am also grateful to the voters who reported possible irregularities to our Election Fraud Hotline. We received 202 calls from 62 counties during Tuesday's General Election.
Attorneys from my Office of Special Prosecutions are reviewing the complaints and will refer for investigation any that appear to be criminal in nature. We will continue to work closely with the U.S. Attorney's Office, Kentucky State Police, the Kentucky Board of Elections, Secretary of State's office as well as local police and prosecutors should we find violations of Kentucky's election laws.
For more information, please see our press release.
I know a lot of Kentucky families have been hurting during these tough economic times. With the winter months fast approaching, my Office of Rate Intervention and I want to remind Kentuckians about the steps they can take to cut utility costs. Make sure to turn off lights and appliances that are not in use, turn down your thermostat and consider doing an energy audit or weatherizing your home. Replacing incandescent bulbs with fluorescent bulbs can also help save money.
For additional tips and information on financial assistance available to consumers who are struggling financially, please visit our Winter Heating page.
October 29, 2010
I have made it a priority to give Kentucky’s law enforcement the modern, 21st century tools they need to fight crime and to make their communities safer. This week, we took another step forward in accomplishing this goal with implementation of the eWarrants system* in the 53rd Judicial Circuit, which encompasses Anderson, Shelby and Spencer Counties.
It was a pleasure joining with Shelby County Sheriff Mike Armstrong as well as local prosecutors and judges on Thursday to announce the successful launch of eWarrants in this circuit; the first rollout under a $3.9 million grant my office received last year through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
With the eWarrants system, service rates for warrants may jump from an average of 25% with paper warrants to in excess of 80%. That means law enforcement can get potentially dangerous suspects off of the streets more quickly.
We are working closely with our partners, Kentucky State Police, the Administrative Office of the Courts, Kentucky Office of Homeland Security and Open Portal Solutions, Inc., to implement eWarrants in 100 rural Kentucky counties by the end of 2011. For more information or if you have questions, please visit our eWarrants page
I also want to remind Kentuckians that we will again be operating our Election Fraud Hotline during the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 2. My office will do all that it can to ensure that Kentucky’s election laws are upheld, but we also need voters to be our eyes and ears on Election Day to report voting irregularities. Investigators from my office will staff the Election Fraud Hotline, 1-800-328-VOTE (800-328-8683), from 6 a.m. EST until 7 p.m. EST on Election Day.
Working together we can ensure that Kentuckians across the Commonwealth have a chance to have their voices heard when they cast their ballots on Nov. 2.
*This project was supported by award No. 2009-SD-B9-0067, awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice.
October 15, 2010
I appreciate the warm welcome I received this morning at Louisville’s Dunn Elementary as I signed the Kentucky Safe Schools Week Proclamation. It is vital that community leaders, parents, educators and kids work together to prevent bullying and to promote safe schools. I was also joined by representatives from the Kentucky Center for School Safety and applaud their efforts in promoting a healthier and safer learning environment in schools across the Commonwealth.
I have been troubled by recent allegations of deceptive and improper mortgage foreclosure practices by some of the nation’s biggest lenders. In order to protect Kentucky consumers from these potentially illegal practices, I announced this week that I have joined with the attorneys general from 49 other states to form a multistate group that will examine whether the mortgage servicers have violated any laws.
This will be a thorough, coordinated effort that will also involve state bank and mortgage regulators, including the Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions. Through this process, we will speak with one voice, with the common goal of protecting consumers. For more information on our multistate review of mortgage foreclosures, please see our press release.
Finally, October 17-23 marks National Protect Your Identity Week. More than 27 million Americans have been victims of identity theft over the past five years. I strongly encourage Kentucky consumers to help us combat identity theft by destroying documents that contain personal information such as your Social Security number, credit-card information, birth dates, pin numbers or even old tax returns. For additional tips on how you can avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, visit our ID Theft page.
October 8, 2010
Whether it is done in person or over the Internet, bullying can have a devastating impact on kids. As we have seen here in Kentucky and in communities across the country, more teens are turning to suicide to escape this type of harassment. I've talked to thousands of Kentucky kids about this issue through our Cybersafety presentations, worked closely with Kentucky families who have lost loved ones as a result of cyberbullying and cyberstalking and led a national effort to stop abusive posts on Topix.com.
On Friday, Oct. 15, I look forward to signing the Kentucky Safe Schools Week Proclamation at a school in Kentucky to raise awareness about bullying, cyberbullying, sexting, suicide and Internet abuse. Make sure to monitor your child's online activities and talk to them about bullying and staying safe online. For more information, click here.
We are also looking forward to talking to students and their parents about another pressing issue in Kentucky; prescription drug abuse. We have school assemblies planned this month in Northern Kentucky and Fayette County to talk to middle and high school students about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. My office has also produced a video about the terrible toll prescription drug abuse is taking on Kentucky families. It is a video every parent and child should watch.
October 1, 2010
Kentucky's prescription drug "Take-Back" day on Sept. 25 was a success. The DEA collected more than 3,500 lbs of prescription drugs from more than 70 sites across the Commonwealth. I was able to spend some time at the collection site at Louisville's Jefferson Mall and appreciate all of those who cleaned out their medicine cabinets in support of this important initiative.
By safely disposing of unneeded or expired prescription drugs, we can reduce the threat these medications pose to our families and particularly our kids. For more information on prescription drug abuse, please click here.
Folks in Lexington also showed strong support for the free Shred-Day we co-sponsored last Friday with the BBB, Lowe's and Shred-All Documents. We were able to shred more than 9,200 lbs of personal documents for local residents. With more than 27 million Americans becoming victims of identity theft over the past five years, it is more important than ever to dispose of documents with personal information such as bank account numbers, Social Security numbers or credit card information.
I was also pleased to announce this week that Kentucky's Medicaid program will receive $3.9 million as part of a settlement reached with Novartis Pharmaceuticals over the improper marketing of one of their drugs. We also reached a similar settlement with Schwarz Pharma which will return more than $321,000 to the state Medicaid program. Drug companies that falsely market their products jeopardize public health and take millions of dollars out of taxpayers' pockets.
Since I took office in January 2008, my Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control has recovered or been awarded more than $141 million for the state and federal Medicaid programs. Be assured, my staff and I will continue to fight everyday to protect Kentuckians from drug companies that engage in this type of illegal activity.
September 24, 2010
I appreciate the folks in Lexington who dropped off documents to be destroyed today as part of the “Shred-Day” my office co-sponsored with the Better Business Bureau, Shred-All Documents and Lowe’s Home Improvement. These free events help consumers protect themselves against one of the fastest growing crimes in America. Identity theft not only jeopardizes a person’s financial security, it can also jeopardize their safety. For more information on how to protect yourself against identity theft, visit http://ag.ky.gov/civil/consumerprotection/idtheft/ and please continue to take advantage of our free shred events.
I also encourage Kentuckians to take part in a very important initiative tomorrow. My office is among the numerous law enforcement agencies supporting the DEA’s first-ever nationwide prescription drug “Take-Back” day tomorrow. There will be more than 70 collection sites in Kentucky and nearly 3,700 designated drop-off sites across the country.
From 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. residents can drop off their expired or unneeded prescription drugs free of charge, and with no questions asked. I’ll be stopping by the drop-off site at Jefferson Mall in Louisville tomorrow morning. My office in Prestonsburg will also serve as a take-back site.
Rates of prescription drug abuse are rising at an alarming rate, particularly among teenagers. With easy access to their parents’ medicine cabinets, kids today are becoming drug addicts in their own homes. By safely disposing of expired or unneeded medications, parents can prevent this abuse before it starts.
To find a take-back site near you, visit www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov and for more information on what my office is doing to combat prescription drug abuse, visit our information and prevention page at http://ag.ky.gov/rxabuse.htm .
September 17, 2010
My office is teaming up with the Better Business Bureau of Central and Eastern Kentucky, Lowe’s Home Improvement and Shred-All Documents to offer a free "Shred Day" on Friday, September 24 at the Lowe’s store in Lexington's Hamburg Pavilion, 2300 Greg Lag Way.
By shredding personal and confidential documents that contain bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, birth dates or pin numbers, you can help us combat one of the fastest growing crimes in America. More than 27 million Americans, myself included, have become victims of identity theft over the past five years. It not only jeopardizes a person’s financial security, it jeopardizes their safety.
I hope you will take advantage of this important opportunity. Residents will be able to shred up to 60 pounds of documents. DVDs and CDs can also be dropped off. For more information on how to protect yourself against identity theft, please visit our ID Theft page or the BBB’s website
I appreciate the positive response we’ve received from educators and concerned parents to our statewide prescription drug abuse education and prevention initiative. As part of this effort, we are talking to high school and middle school students about the dangers of using prescription drugs for off-label purposes. We are also reminding parents to monitor and secure prescription drugs in the home and dispose of unused or expired medications.
Helping us in this effort are Lynn Kissick and Dr. Karen Shay, two mothers from Morehead who lost daughters to prescription drug overdoses. Lynn and Karen talk about the devastating toll prescription drug abuse has had on their families. I hope you can take a few moments to watch this video, particularly with your children, and talk to them about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Please encourage your friends and family to watch it too.
I’m also pleased to say that this and other YouTube videos produced by the Office of the Attorney General will now contain closed captioning to better serve our hearing impaired community.
September 10, 2010
As I travel across Kentucky, I have a hard time finding a single family that hasn’t been affected by prescription drug abuse. It has affected my family and families in every corner of the Commonwealth.
Even more troubling is that nationwide one in five teenagers has used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. That’s up from one in 10 just three years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As Kentucky’s Attorney General, and as a father, I am alarmed by this statistic.
Yesterday, I was pleased to announce a new statewide initiative to educate Kentucky teens and their parents about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. My partners in this effort include the Justice Cabinet and its Office of Drug Control Policy, Kentucky Pharmacists Association, National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI) and Operation UNITE. We are also working closely with Dr. Karen Shay and Lynn Kissick, two courageous mothers from Morehead, Ky. who lost daughters to prescription drug overdoses. We are sharing their stories in a video produced by my office that will be shown to students across Kentucky.
I would like to thank students at Frankfort’s Western Hills High School and principal Rita Rector for welcoming us into their school yesterday to make this important announcement. I also appreciate Representative John Tilley and Justice Secretary J. Michael Brown for their support.
For more information on our new prescription drug abuse education initiative as well as the work we have already done to combat the illegal trafficking and use of prescription drugs, please visit http://ag.ky.gov/rxabuse.htm
Finally, I hope you will join me in taking a few moments tomorrow to remember those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. May we never forget the tragedy of that day and please continue to keep our soldiers fighting overseas in your thoughts and prayers.
September 2, 2010
As many of you know, the Office of the Attorney General will be closed on Friday, September 3 for the first of six unpaid furlough days. The furloughs are part of a budget strategy adopted by the Kentucky General Assembly to save approximately $24 million and prevent the loss of hundreds of state government jobs.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of my employees for the great job they do every day to provide essential services to Kentuckians in every corner of the Commonwealth. Because of their dedication and commitment, we have been able to address the many modern law enforcement challenges we face, such as protecting Kentucky kids from Internet predators and combating prescription drug abuse, despite unprecedented budget cuts.
As you enjoy the long Labor Day weekend, please make sure to remember the hard-working families across Kentucky who have made this state a great place to live, work and raise a family.
August 27, 2010
It was a pleasure to stop by Lexington’s Red Mile this morning to personally congratulate Jack Pattie on his 35-year milestone on WVLK. Jack has become far more than a beloved radio personality; he is part of the fabric of Lexington. I look forward to listening to Jack for many more years to come.
Also in Lexington this week, it was an honor to present the awards for the 2010 Outstanding Commonwealth’s and County Attorneys at the Kentucky Prosecutor’s Conference hosted by my office. Receiving awards were Commonwealth’s attorneys Linda Tally Smith (54th judicial circuit), Jim Crawford (15th judicial circuit) and G.L. Ovey (56th judicial circuit) and County Attorneys Jeff Edwards (Marshall County) and Tom Weddle (Casey County).
These folks, along with prosecutors across Kentucky, work everyday to protect our citizens and make our communities safer. I appreciate all they do to make Kentucky a safer place to live, work and raise a family. Please see our press release for more information.
I spent some time at the Kentucky State Fair this week. As always, it was exciting to watch the bidding at the Country Ham Breakfast. I also enjoyed meeting folks who stopped by our booth in the South Wing.
Finally today, I know I join many in Kentucky who were saddened to learn about the passing of Bob Sexton. I have always valued his insight, appreciated his knowledge and admired his dedication to transforming the educational landscape of Kentucky. Bob will be missed, but his record of fighting for education reform in every corner of our Commonwealth is a legacy that will continue improving the lives of Kentuckians for generations to come.
August 20, 2010
I was pleased to announce this week that two years after its creation my Cybercrimes Unit has launched 164 child pornography investigations, made 32 arrests and seized more than 77,000 child pornographic images and videos. These statistics come despite having my general fund budget cut by nearly 30%.
Additionally, the digital forensics lab I opened to address the backlog of digital evidence in Kentucky has processed more than 2,300 hard drives and removable devices. What previously would take up to a year to process; my lab is turning around in about a week. This is allowing law enforcement and prosecutors across Kentucky to receive more quickly crucial digital evidence, now involved in approximately 80% of crimes today.
With the help of my Cybercrimes Investigative Manager Bill Baker and his team, my lab has become a national model in the fight against crimes that occur online. I am proud of all that we have accomplished and of the great service we are providing to the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. For more information, please see our press release.
Coming up next week, I look forward to speaking at the Kentucky Prosecutor’s Conference in Lexington. And if you’re headed to the state fair, please make sure to stop by our booth in the Kidz Biz section of the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center’s South Wing. We’re talking to Kentuckians about our cybersafety initiatives as well as our upcoming campaign to better educate parents and teens about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and how you can stop this potentially deadly problem before it starts.
August 13, 2010
I spent time this week in Eastern Kentucky and was pleased to hear how grateful folks are about the agreement we’ve reached with Topix.com. As per the agreement, all reports of abuse on Topix will now be reviewed free of charge. The website will also seek to review and remove inappropriate posts within three working days rather than its previous policy of seven to 14 days.
After hearing from so many concerned citizens around Kentucky, I was extremely pleased to spearhead the effort to end the ‘pay-to-police’ policy on Topix. I also appreciate the support I received from 34 other attorneys general who shared my concern about the effects of abusive Topix posts in our schools and communities and particularly on our kids. Be assured, we’ll be watching. For more information, please see our press release.
If you’re heading to the Kentucky State Fair next week, please make sure to stop by our booth in the Kidz Biz wing at the Fair and Exposition Center. We’ll have information on how to keep your kids safe on the Internet, a demonstration of privacy settings for Facebook and MySpace and steps you need to take to protect your kids from prescription drug abuse. We’ll also have a daily prize drawing for a color wireless printer provided by our CyberSafeKY partner ConnectKentucky, courtesy of Lexmark. I hope you’ll stop by and say hello.
August 6, 2010
Victims' advocates in Kentucky have suffered a loss this week with the tragic death of Tomma Graves, the director of the Crime Victims Assistance Program in Franklin County. Advocates like Tomma are tireless crusaders who give a voice and a shoulder to lean on to Kentucky's crime victims. On behalf of my Office of Victim Advocacy, we extend our deepest sympathies to the Graves family during this difficult time.
I was pleased to jointly announce with the U.S. Attorney's office that convicted child pornographer Ronald Peed, Jr. has been sentenced to nine years in federal prison. The charges against Peed were the result of an investigation by my Cybercrimes Unit and the FBI. Peed will also face 15 years of supervised probation and be required to register as a sex offender for life.
I am extremely proud of all that my Cybercrimes Unit has accomplished over the past two years. The Internet is a safer place for Kentucky kids thanks to the continued hard work and dedication of my Cybercrimes investigators. I'll share more information on their many accomplishments in the coming weeks.
This weekend, I look forward to meeting with folks at the 130th Fancy Farm Picnic in Western Kentucky. I'll be attending a number of the events, so please stop-by and say hello.
July 30, 2010
It was an honor to participate this week in a rally in Frankfort marking the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). This historic legislation, passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by President George H.W. Bush, has opened so many doors for so many Americans.
Tens of thousands of Kentuckians depend on the ADA to help safeguard their rights, including the right to seek employment, to utilize public accommodations, and to access basic public services. It was a privilege to stand with members of the disabled community to celebrate this important anniversary and to remind the public of the importance of inclusiveness rather than intolerance.
I also appreciate the kind notes I have received thanking my office for all it does to protect our vulnerable and disabled populations.
With classes resuming in the coming weeks, we'll be bidding farewell to the participants in our Summer Intern program. I had a chance to have some coffee with these young men and women earlier this week to personally thank them for their diligent work and interest in public service.
Finally, we are disappointed with today's announcement by the Public Service Commission (PSC) approving a rate hike for LG&E and KU customers. We are reviewing the PSC's ruling and determining whether or not to appeal the decision to Franklin Circuit Court. I continue to believe that LG&E and KU should not be asking for rate increases while they are being sold to another company that will reap the benefits of the increases.
July 23, 2010
My thoughts and prayers have been with the thousands of Kentuckians affected by last weekend’s devastating storms and flash flooding in Eastern and Northeastern Kentucky. Lives have been lost and homes knocked off of their foundations by the flood waters. As residents begin the difficult process of cleaning up and assessing the damage, my office will be watching for price-gouging in the wake of these storms.
On Tues. July 21, Gov. Beshear signed an executive order to implement Kentucky’s price-gouging laws statewide. This gives me the authority to investigate and prosecute, where appropriate, anyone who seeks excessive profits for necessary items such as gasoline, generators, hotel rooms and building supplies, among other items. Kentuckians are hurting and do not need to be victimized a second time by unscrupulous businesses. If you suspect price-gouging, call my Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257 or file a complaint online at ag.ky.gov.
I also want to remind storm victims to be leery of scams and fly-by-night repair crews. Some common natural disaster scams include shoddy construction, outright fraud, loan scams and charity scams. Remember, never pay in advance for labor and if possible use local, reputable contractors for repair work. For more tips, please see our Press Release.
July 16, 2010
The unprecedented budget crisis in Kentucky continues to take a toll on my office. I have prepared yet another budget reduction plan based on the current year spending reductions mandated by the General Assembly in HB 1.
As part of the latest reduction plan, my office will also be subject to the statewide furlough plan recently announced by Gov. Beshear. The plan includes six furlough days for all state employees this fiscal year. Three of the furlough days will occur adjacent to Labor Day, Veterans Day and Memorial Day holidays and are designed to minimize any adverse impact for the public.
These continued cuts, now totaling more than 26%, have been painful and have strained resources in my office and across state government. Be assured, my priorities continue to be maintaining my current staff and protecting the mission critical functions of this office.
To find out more about the important work we do for Kentuckians of all ages, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. I also hope to see you at our booth next month at the Kentucky State Fair. We’ll have information on our cybersafety initiatives, tips for keeping your kids safe on the Internet as well potentially lifesaving steps parents can take at home to prevent prescription drug abuse before it starts.
July 9, 2010
I hope everyone had a terrific Independence Day and a safe holiday weekend. Despite the short week, it has been busy here in Frankfort.
I was pleased to jointly announce with the Kentucky Heritage Council that a settlement had been reached to return the historic Indian Head Rock back to Kentucky from Portsmouth, Ohio. The 8-ton boulder will be transported from Portsmouth to Greenup County by a company that has volunteered its services and at no expense to taxpayers. Representatives from the Heritage Council will meet in the coming weeks to identify a permanent location for this historic artifact where it can be displayed to the public. For more information, please see our press release.
With school back in session next month, my Office of Consumer Protection is preparing to remind Kentucky kids about the importance of staying safe on the Internet. To date, we’ve conducted more than 100 cybersafety programs reaching more than 40,000 students, teachers and parents across the Commonwealth.
One of the most important issues I’ve stressed to Kentucky kids during these presentations is to never meet in person someone you’ve met online and to think before you post. Messages posted on social-networking sites, like Facebook or MySpace, can not only jeopardize admission to college or your employment, they can jeopardize your safety. For more information on our cybersafety programs, contact Debbie Gilbert in my Consumer Protection office at Debbie.email@example.com.
Beginning next week, texting while driving will become illegal in Kentucky. This is one of many new laws that will take effect in the Commonwealth on July 15. I am hopeful this new law will make our roadways safer, particularly for our young drivers.
I also want Kentuckians to be aware of an important consumer protection law that goes into effect next week. HB 166 cracks down on foreclosure relief scammers and better protects struggling homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments. My office worked closely with Kentucky’s Consumer Advisory Council and Representatives Susan Westrom, Tommy Thompson and Robert Damron to draft this legislation. For more information on how this new law could help you, please see our press release .
July 2, 2010
Kentucky has lost two devoted public servants this week. I was saddened by news that former State Senator Ed Ford, of Cynthiana, had passed away. It was a privilege to have worked closely with Ed on education reform legislation during former Kentucky Governor Paul Patton’s administration.
My thoughts and prayers are also with the family of Oldham County Attorney John Fendley, whose death earlier this week shocked many. During his more than 20 years of service as County Attorney, John showed a deep concern for people and an unwavering commitment to public service and to the residents of Oldham County. He will certainly be missed.
Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a safe and happy Fourth of July. Elizabeth, Eva and I are looking forward to spending time with family and friends. We also ask that you please take a few moments to give thanks to our military men and women who are fighting to defend our freedom. It is through their sacrifice, and the sacrifice of so many before them, that we are able to celebrate Independence Day.
June 25, 2010
I know I join many proud Kentuckians today who would like to congratulate our Kentucky Wildcats for making history last night. Not only did John Wall become the first UK player to take the top spot in the NBA Draft, the Wildcats are now the only team in history to have five players taken in the first round. Congratulations are also in order for Western Kentucky’s Jeremy Evans as he goes to the Utah Jazz.
Although they are leaving us, these fine young men will always have a place in our hearts and a home here in the bluegrass state.
I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank the many college interns who are working in our office this summer. I appreciate that they are devoting a portion of their summer break to public service and to gaining insight into the work we do here, from protecting consumers to combating prescription drug abuse across the Commonwealth. I hope their time here in the Attorney General's Office proves to be a valuable experience.
June 18, 2010
I’d like to congratulate Nikki Henderson, an investigator in my Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control, for receiving the 2010 Champion for the Aging Award this week. Louisville-based ElderServe, Inc. presented Nikki with this prestigious award on Wednesday to recognize all that she has done on behalf of senior citizens.
Nikki has been a tireless crusader against elder abuse throughout her entire law enforcement career. Her dedication and pursuit for justice for the aging have touched countless lives in Kentucky. I am honored to have Nikki as a member of my staff and thrilled that her efforts continue to be recognized across the Commonwealth.
Nikki is one of many in my Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control division who work every day to protect our seniors and most vulnerable citizens from abuse and neglect. It is through their effort that we have been able to triple the number of elder abuse investigations in Kentucky.
Also this week, my office enjoyed a visit from representatives of Kentucky’s Boys and Girls State program. Jourdan Lewis of Fort Campbell High School and Morgan Mayes of Louisville’s Eastern High spent Thursday morning in our office learning about the important work we do to protect Kentuckians of all ages and uphold the laws of this great Commonwealth.
Sponsored by the American Legion, Boys and Girls State teaches young men and women responsible citizenship. It also gives them the opportunity to see firsthand how their local and state government works. I’d like to wish Jourdan, Morgan and the many other Girls and Boys State participants all the best as they embark on their journey to becoming Kentucky’s future leaders.
June 11, 2010
I want to reassure Kentuckians that my office is doing everything in its power to protect rate payers against unfair or excessive rate increases. On Tuesday, we went before the Public Service Commission (PSC) to make our case against the pending LG&E and KU rate increases. We were disappointed that the PSC did not grant our motion to dismiss the cases due to the pending sale of parent company E.ON to PPL; however, we outlined our many concerns during the hearing and can still renew our request for dismissal.
Despite significant budget deficits that affected our ability, in many cases, to hire expert witnesses, we are continuing to intervene and vigorously represent Kentucky ratepayers in every corner of the Commonwealth. In fact, the approximately 118,000 customers of Kentucky American Water Company in Central Kentucky will be pleased to know that we filed testimony today to challenge the company’s proposed $25.9 million rate increase.
I am proud to say that since I took office in January 2008, we have saved consumers more than $106 million in proposed rate increases from utility companies.
By pooling resources with the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and Prosecutors Advisory Council (PAC) we were able to provide a free training conference on Thursday for victim assistance professionals and prosecutors as part of a conference being sponsored by the Crime Victims Compensation Board. The training provides advocates with the opportunity to improve skills so they can continue to be a strong voice for Kentucky’s crime victims.
May 28, 2010
Kids across Kentucky will be heading to their local pools this weekend. My office has been working closely with the Kentucky Department of Public Health to ensure that it is a safe swim season for all Kentuckians.
Our agencies work together to enforce the Virginia Graeme Baker (VGB) Act, a federal law that makes it illegal to manufacture, distribute or sell drain covers that do not adhere to the standards for anti-entrapment safety set forth by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
I’m pleased to say that most of the state’s more than 3,000 public pools are in compliance with the VGB Act. However, we are currently following up with about three-dozen pool operators that were in violation of the law at the end of 2009. Any pool or spa not in compliance with the VGB Act will be subject to federal penalties and closure.
There is much more information about this important law in our press release. I’m also reminding parents and caregivers about the important role they play in keeping kids safe in the water. The most important precaution is active supervision.
Whether you’ll be swimming or cooking-out with family and friends this Memorial Day weekend, I hope you'll join me in remembering and honoring the military men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom. Their service to this nation and their sacrifice will not be forgotten. Stay safe and enjoy the weekend.
May 21, 2010
I appreciate the folks who called my Election Fraud Hotline to report possible election law violations during Tuesday's Primary. We received 116 calls from 43 counties and are currently meeting with our law enforcement and election oversight partners to carefully review all of the complaints. We will take the appropriate action if we find any violations that are criminal in nature.
I would also like to recognize the hard work of my investigators, prosecutors and support staff who were in polling precincts across the state and responded to the numerous calls to our Election Fraud Hotline. Like many in state government, they are doing more work with fewer resources. I appreciate all that they do to ensure a fair and honest election for all Kentuckians.
As required by law (KRS 15.243), we'll conduct post-election audits of six randomly selected counties in the coming weeks. For more information on our efforts to combat election fraud, please see our press release.
Finally, those of us in state government who have endured unprecedented budget cuts will be watching closely as state lawmakers return to Frankfort next week to end their budget stalemate. Be assured, I will continue to work every day to protect the critical functions of this office and the important services we provide to Kentucky families.
May 14, 2010
With the Primary Election just days away, I want to remind Kentucky voters that my office is working hard to ensure a fair and honest election for all Kentuckians. My investigators will patrol precincts and polling places across the state on Tuesday and will document any suspicious activities. We are also working very closely with other law enforcement agencies and election officials, including the offices of the Secretary of State and U.S. Attorney in both the Eastern and Western Districts, to prevent election fraud.
If you notice any suspicious activity or voting irregularities, call my Election Fraud Hotline at 1-800-328-VOTE (8683). Working together, we can ensure that all Kentuckians have a chance to make their vote count.
I am continuing to press Topix.com to improve consumer protections and eliminate its $19.99 fee for "priority review" of abusive or inappropriate posts. I am now joined in this effort by the attorneys general in 22 other states and territories.
Today my colleagues and I urged Topix CEO Chris Tolles to do more to protect users, many of them children, from abusive posts that violate the website’s own terms of service. We’ve also called on Topix to stop profiting from online bullying and abuse by charging a fee for "priority review" of abusive posts.
For more on our initiative, please see my press release.
I commend the Lexington Police department for launching a new public awareness initiative today to curb prescription drug abuse in their community. I appreciate their proactive approach to dealing with this serious public health and safety issue and I look forward to working with them to implement a similar program in communities across Kentucky.
Finally, the KY Kids Alert initiative I launched earlier this year with the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services is helping to keep Kentucky kids safer at home and in daycares. I hope you’ll take a minute to watch a public service announcement I’ve put on the web about this important program.
May 7, 2010
My thoughts this week have been with those affected by the widespread flooding following last weekend’s severe weather. For the families who lost loved ones, you are in my prayers.
During these difficult times, we see the best and worst in people. I am always heartened by the generosity of Kentuckians; neighbors helping one another in times of need. I am also mindful of those who view the suffering of others as an opportunity to profit.
After Gov. Steve Beshear issued an emergency declaration on Monday, May 3rd, I put Kentucky businesses on notice that price-gouging will not be tolerated during times of emergency. As I did in the wake of Hurricane Ike and the subsequent windstorm, I will investigate and prosecute, where appropriate, anyone who seeks excessive profits during emergency situations. For more information on my efforts to combat price-gouging and for important tips for Kentuckians who need storm repair or clean up services, please see my press release .
My statewide Prescription Drug Diversion Task Force welcomed two new members this week. Officers from the Floyd County Sheriff’s department and Prestonsburg Police have been sworn in as members of the task force and will assist in our statewide effort to investigate prescription drug trafficking, overprescribing physicians, doctor shopping and illegal out of state pharmacies. I appreciate all that these agencies have done at the local level to combat prescription pill abuse and I look forward to working with them in our statewide effort.
I was also pleased to announce a $72.5 million multi-state settlement with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation over claims the drug company knowingly promoted tobramycin, a cystic fibrosis drug, for non FDA-approved uses. Kentucky’s Medicaid program will receive nearly $472,000 as a result of this settlement. To date, my Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control has recovered or been awarded more than $100 million for the state and federal Medicaid programs. Clearly, we have put pharmaceutical companies on notice that fraud, waste and abuse in Kentucky’s Medicaid program will not be tolerated.
To report allegations of Medicaid fraud, call my Tip Line at 877-228-7384.
April 30, 2010
Secretary of State Trey Grayson and I were pleased to join with the U.S. Attorney’s Office this week to send an important message about the upcoming primary election; Voter fraud will not be tolerated in Kentucky.
Investigators from my office will be on the ground on May 18 patrolling precincts and polling places and will document any suspicious activities we see at any of the polling sites. Secretary Grayson and I are also asking Kentuckians to partner with us in this effort. We need the eyes and ears of Kentucky voters to join with us to ensure that their votes count on Election Day.
If you encounter any unusual or suspicious activities at the polls, please call my Election Fraud Hotline at 800-328-VOTE (8683). Be assured, I will be working closely with the Secretary of State’s office as well as the U.S. Attorney’s in both the Eastern and Western District’s of Kentucky to ensure a fair and honest election. Please see our press release for additional information.
I also want to Kentucky consumers to be aware of the recall of more than 200,000 Graco-branded drop side cribs manufactured by LaJobi. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the voluntary recall on Thursday due to entrapment and suffocation hazards. Through the KY Kids Alert initiative I launched earlier this year with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services and CPSC, this important information will automatically be sent to child care facilities across the Commonwealth. For more information on the recall, please visit the KY Kids Alert section of my website at ag.ky.gov.
Finally, I am so grateful that I have been able to share the many wonderful memories I have of my friend Victor Perrone through his namesake, Stately Victor. To have a horse in the Kentucky Derby is a dream come true for my dad. To have Victor’s name live on during Kentucky’s proudest moment is something we will always cherish.
Whether you watch the Kentucky Derby with friends and family at home or spend the day at historic Churchill Downs, I hope you have a safe and enjoyable weekend.
April 23, 2010
I appreciate the folks who joined us at Frankfort’s Cove Spring Park on Wednesday for our annual Crime Victim’s Rights Day ceremony. We hold this ceremony each year in observance of National Crime Victims’ Week. The ceremony is not only an opportunity to remember those who have been affected by violent crime, but it is also a call to action for dignity, fairness and respect for all crime victims.
For people like Katherine Nichols, whose brother, Jim Duckett, was murdered 18 months ago in Shelby County, every day is crime victims’ rights day. My thoughts are with her and the many other Kentucky families who have lost loved ones to violent crime.
Coming up next week, I’ll have an update on our efforts to combat prescription drug abuse across Kentucky, including information about two of our newest partners in this effort.
I look forward to joining Secretary of State Trey Grayson in the coming weeks to announce that our agencies will again work together to prevent and investigate allegations of voter fraud during the May 18 primary election. Secretary Grayson and I are committed to working with Kentucky voters and law enforcement to protect the election from potential fraud.
Finally, I’d like to thank all of those who have shown their support for a little-known Kentucky born and bred racehorse called Stately Victor. The horse I co-own with my father and named for my childhood friend, Victor Perrone, has earned a spot in the Kentucky Derby. I have supported numerous efforts to honor Victor’s memory since his death in 1992. To pay tribute to him on a national stage at the Kentucky Derby is beyond words. My dad and I will cherish every moment.
April 16, 2010
There is a new law in Kentucky that will better protect struggling homeowners from debt relief scammers. I was pleased to join Rep. Susan Westrom, Bill Harned of the Consumer Advisory Council and many others on Tuesday as Governor Beshear signed into law House Bill 166. I would also like to thank my Office of Consumer Protection for helping to draft this important legislation.
Debt relief scams prey on the desperation and hopelessness that so many Kentucky families have endured during these tough economic times. HB 166 offers greater protection for consumers who have fallen behind on their mortgages by placing strict limits on upfront fees foreclosure relief companies can charge for their services. Contracts must be written and signed and consumers will have a 14-day right to cancel. For more information, please see our press release.
I recently had the opportunity to record a public service announcement with Olympic swimmer Dara Torres. Our message is simple; say yes to a healthy lifestyle and say no to underage drinking.
April is alcohol awareness month and the perfect time to talk to your kids about the dangers of alcohol and the importance of leading an active lifestyle through school activities, sports or volunteering. I hope you’ll take a moment to watch our PSA and to share this timely message with your kids.
Finally, I shared a particularly special moment with my family at Keeneland last weekend. Stately Victor, a horse I co-own with my father, Tom Conway, surprised everyone at the track by winning the Bluegrass Stakes. The win earns Stately Victor, named for my childhood friend, Victor Perrone, who died in a 1992 car crash, a spot in the Kentucky Derby. This is a dream come true for my dad and a fitting tribute to someone who gave me and my family so much. Victor was more than my best friend; he was part of our family. The chance to honor his memory at the Kentucky Derby is something we will never forget.
April 9, 2010
For those who were on spring break this week, I hope you and your family had a terrific time and were careful about postings on Facebook or other social-networking sites while away from home. Please see our recent press release about Facebook postings and how they could jeopardize your safety.
I also warned Kentucky parents this week about a new website called Chatroulette that randomly pairs strangers for live video chats. An investigation by my Cybercrimes Unit found that approximately 30% of the connections made on Chatroulette by our investigator were with adults engaging in some form of sexual exhibitionism ranging from nudity to graphic sexual conduct. Our findings should sound an alarm for parents across Kentucky.
We had another important alert this week for senior citizens in Kentucky. I have asked seniors to hang up if they receive phone calls requesting personal information in order to receive a new Medicare card. This is a scam. Medicare or Social Security employees will not contact you by phone requesting this type of information. Additional information on this scam is available in our press release.
I look forward to participating in the signing next week of an important piece of legislation for Kentucky consumers. I’ll have details in next week’s blog. To make sure you don’t miss important news and information from my office, you can follow us on both Facebook and Twitter.
April 2, 2010
This week, I again responded to a call from Republicans to join a legal constitutional challenge of the health care reform law. I have taken a hard look at this issue and continue to believe the lawsuits filed by other state attorneys general to negate this new law are without merit.
During an unprecedented state budget crisis and at a time when Kentucky lawmakers are considering painful cuts to social services and education, I will not use taxpayer resources to sign onto a lawsuit that is nothing more than a political stunt.
While the constitutional challenge to the health care reform bill may make for good "tea party" politics, it makes for a lousy lawsuit.
I appreciated the opportunity yesterday to again voice my concerns about these lawsuits with our local media as well as with Neil Cavuto on Fox News.
I'd like to welcome the PRIDE World Drug Prevention Conference to Kentucky. The annual conference got underway yesterday in Louisville and brings together hundreds of youth from across the country and Kentucky to focus on a drug-free lifestyle. We were pleased to join with the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI) in sponsoring a youth attendee from Kentucky.
As someone who is fighting to combat the epidemic of prescription drug abuse across Kentucky, I appreciate all that PRIDE is doing to help our kids choose healthy lifestyles.
Finally, Elizabeth and I are looking forward to celebrating our first Easter with our daughter, Eva, and our families. We hope you too will be sharing in the joys of this special holiday with family and friends.
March 26, 2010
This week, Republicans in the Kentucky House and Senate asked me to join with other attorneys general who have filed suit against the new federal health care reform law. As the state’s chief law officer, it is my duty to look at the merits of any case and provide sound legal guidance.
After careful review of this issue, I announced yesterday that I will not use my authority and the already strained resources of the Office of the Attorney General to pursue this litigation, as it is without merit. My opinion is supported by constitutional scholars across the country. I spoke about this in further detail with members of the media yesterday afternoon. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to view the video from the press briefing.
Despite having my budget cut by 26% since I took office, we are continuing to accomplish a great deal for Kentucky families. I appreciated the opportunity to speak with WKYT’s Bill Bryant recently about our latest initiatives, including the recent expansion of my statewide Prescription Drug Diversion Task Force and our KY Kids Alert effort to ensure that Kentucky parents and daycares are aware of important child product recall information.
Finally, I’d like to extend my congratulations to Coach Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats as they move into the elite 8 of the NCAA tournament.
March 19, 2010
I was pleased to announce this week the expansion of my Prescription Drug Diversion Task Force. Both Hazard and Manchester police departments now have officers assigned to our statewide task force.
Hazard Police Chief Ronnie Bryant and Chief Jeff Culver with Manchester Police have seen the devastating toll prescription pill abuse can have on Kentucky families, and particularly youth. I appreciate all that they are doing to fight this problem in their local communities and their commitment to helping us in our statewide effort.
Through our partnerships with local and federal law enforcement and our continued work with Operation UNITE, we can increase our investigations into prescription drug trafficking, overprescribing physicians, doctor shopping and illegal out of state pharmacies. Working together, we can also shut down the deadly prescription pill pipeline that exists between Kentucky and Florida.
Additionally, my Office of Drug Investigations is training hundreds of local law enforcement and health care professionals, including physicians and pharmacists, on our drug diversion effort, how to identify drug seekers and what to do with the information. For more information, see our press release.
I’d like to thank Bill Bryant with WKYT Channel 27 in Lexington for inviting me to be a guest on this week’s Kentucky Newsmakers. The program airs on Saturday’s at 11 a.m. We’ll also post it on our website at ag.ky.gov in the coming days. I hope you’ll take the time to watch the show and find out all that we are doing for Kentucky families.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention March Madness. I have finalized my NCAA Bracket and wish the Cats, the Cards and the Racers the best of luck.
March 12, 2010
This has been National Consumer Protection Week and my Office of Consumer Protection and I joined with the Better Business Bureau, AARP and the Kentucky Council on Economic Education to make sure Kentuckians of all ages are aware of the importance of being a wise consumer.
In this effort, we spoke to students and senior citizens at South Oldham Middle School in Crestwood, KY and Stonewall Elementary in Lexington. Both schools have strong financial literacy programs in place for 5th and 6th graders. I was extremely impressed with the knowledge these students have about the marketplace, being a savvy consumer, truth in advertising and what goes into running a business.
I commend Lynn Nix at South Oldham and Teresa Moore and Janice Duncan at Stonewall for the work they have done preparing their students to become financially responsible adults. These kids are well on their way to becoming Kentucky’s future entrepreneurs and leaders. For more information and important consumer protection tips for all ages, please see our press release.
The Kentucky House this week came out with its proposed budget. The Senate will review the plan and changes are likely. Kentucky lawmakers are faced with a very difficult challenge to balance the budget during these tough economic times. However, I remain hopeful that the General Assembly will keep our budget funded in such a way that we can continue to protect the mission critical work of this office as well as focus on new initiatives to make Kentucky a safer place to live, work and raise a family.
Finally, I’d like to congratulate Murray State Coach Billy Kennedy and his Racers for winning a spot in the NCAA tournament. And of course, best of luck to the Cards in the NCAA and the Cats as they begin SEC play today.
March 5, 2010
I enjoyed meeting earlier this week with attorneys general from across the country as part of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) spring meeting in Washington, D.C. The NAAG meetings are a great opportunity to exchange information with my colleagues from other states on existing programs and new initiatives.
I was particularly pleased to participate in discussions on prescription drug abuse and to share information about my comprehensive drug diversion efforts, including creation of Kentucky’s first statewide Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force. Our task force members from across Kentucky have been focused on investigations into doctor shopping, drug trafficking, overprescribing physicians and have worked to shut down the prescription pill pipeline from Kentucky to other states, particularly Florida.
I look forward to continuing to work with NAAG and my fellow attorneys general to address the scourge of prescription drug abuse that has taken a toll on families across Kentucky and the nation. I also volunteered to serve on a NAAG work group on this issue.
Additionally, the AGs had a private meeting with the US Attorney General, Eric Holder, where he committed to working with us on issues ranging from anti-trust to how to deal with criminal detainees who are illegal immigrants.
Also this week, I talked to Louisville’s WAVE TV about LG&E and KU’s proposed rate increases for both electric and gas. These increases would dramatically increase customers’ bills regardless of their conservation efforts. If approved, I believe these increases would be particularly painful for the elderly and low-income. Be assured, my Office of Rate Intervention will represent the interests of rate payers when the Public Service Commission considers the companies’ request.
I also spoke this week with WKMS Radio, the National Public Radio affiliate in Murray, about our inquiry into Topix.com. We have received numerous complaints about inappropriate posts, often aimed at minors, on this site and are asking the company’s leadership to address the serious concerns these postings present.
Next week is National Consumer Protection Week and my Office of Consumer Protection will join with the Better Business Bureau in Louisville and Lexington as well as AARP to mark the occasion. This year’s theme is "Dollars and Sense: Rated "A" for All Ages." I look forward to promoting this theme at Lexington’s Stonewall Elementary and South Oldham Middle School on Wednesday, March 10. We’ll talk to students and seniors about the importance of being wise consumers.
Finally, I’d like to congratulate Mason County High for winning this year’s LifeSmarts Competition held yesterday at Kentucky State University. Best of luck to Amrita Srinivasan, Garric Buzzard, Connor Appelman, Beth Bussell as they represent Kentucky in the national LifeSmarts competition next month in Miami.
February 26, 2010
Over the past month, my Office of Consumer Protection has been working with Home Service USA to resolve concerns over a water line service coverage solicitation that generated confusion and numerous complaints from Kentucky consumers. Today, I was pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement with Home Service USA and Home Service USA Repair Management that addresses those concerns. Under the agreement, consumers will soon receive corrective letters clarifying that the service is optional and not required by a local water utility company or local government.
I appreciate Home Service USA's cooperation in this matter. I also appreciate the public's help in bringing this issue to our attention. For more information, please see our press release. As always, if you have a concern about a solicitation, contact my Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257.
Yesterday, I joined with Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) Inspector General Mary Begley and Dennis Blasius from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to launch our KY Kids Alert campaign. This is a statewide initiative to educate Kentucky child care providers and parents about the importance of child product recall information.
As part of KY Kids Alert, Kentucky's nearly 3,000 child care centers and certified family child care homes are now signed up to receive child product recall alerts from the CPSC either by email or regular mail. This puts potentially life saving recall information on items such as toys, cribs and strollers directly into the hands of those who care for our kids.
As a parent of a seven-month-old little girl, I know there is nothing more important than the safety of our children. I look forward to continuing to work with our KY Kids Alert partners so we can ensure a safer, brighter future for our children.
February 19, 2010
I appreciate all of the communication my office has received over the past week in support of our inquiry into Topix.com. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and I last week called on the interactive message board host to provide information regarding its policies dealing with abusive posts and the $19.99 fee for "priority review" of inappropriate posts that appear to violate the website’s terms of service.
Following our announcement, numerous concerned parents, local law enforcement, school officials and community leaders called or emailed my office to thank us for our effort and to share their stories of outrageous, vulgar and abusive posts- many directed at children- that are rampant on the "Forums and Polls" pages of Topix.com. I remain hopeful Topix will address our concerns.
I also appreciated the warm welcome my office received Thursday from 4th and 5th graders at Frankfort’s Hearn Elementary. My Office of Consumer Protection conducted a CyberSafeKY student training session to warn students about the dangers that exist on the Internet. To date, we’ve presented more than 100 cybersafety programs reaching 24,000 Kentuckians. At these programs, we remind kids to think before they post and never meet someone they’ve met online in person.
Finally, there was a great crowd Thursday night at the Louisville Night Legislative Reception at the Kentucky History Museum in Frankfort. I enjoyed visiting with Mayor Jerry Abramson, Metro Council members, State Representatives and community leaders.
February 12, 2010
This week, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and I sent a letter to Topix.com CEO Chris Tolles alerting him to our significant concerns about false, obscene and derogatory posts that appear on the website’s "Forums and Polls" pages and the $19.99 fee for "priority review" of these inappropriate posts.
We’ve received dozens of calls and complaints from concerned parents, community leaders and school officials about the abusive posts as well as difficulty in removing them. Our initial investigation of Topix confirmed that the "Forums and Polls" section is used primarily to post derogatory information and appears to operate without moderators. The feedback system appears to be designed to maximize Topix revenue from the "priority review" feedback options, rather than providing other effective tools to remove inappropriate or false posts.
Abusive or negative posts can have a devastating impact on youth. As we have seen right here in Kentucky, many teens turn to suicide to escape abuse or cyberbullying on the Internet. General Blumenthal and I have urged Topix to remove false, abusive or obscene posts as quickly as possible. The fact that Topix is profiting from the removal of these outrageous comments also raises serious consumer protection concerns. For more information, please see our press release.
I’m pleased to report that HB 148, a bill introduced to codify the reorganization of my office won unanimous approval in the House State Government Committee on Thursday. During testimony, I was able to outline how I have streamlined operations in the wake of the unprecedented state budget crisis. My reorganization also allows us to more effectively address today’s many modern law enforcement challenges, such as crimes that occur online, Medicaid fraud and prescription pill abuse. I appreciate Chairman Mike Cherry and his committee members for their careful attention to this bill.
Finally, I was pleased to attend this week’s moving tribute to the late Kentucky Supreme Court Justice William McAnulty. Friends, family and dignitaries gathered in the rotunda for the unveiling of a bust of Justice McAnulty, sculpted by Louisville’s Ed Hamilton. I encourage you to make the trip to the Capitol to see this wonderful tribute to a man who left an indelible mark on Kentucky’s judicial system and history.
February 6, 2010
My Office of Consumer Protection and I have been busy working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and several of our partners in state government on a campaign to raise awareness of child product safety recall information. Just last month, Doral Asia recalled 630,000 of its cribs, sold at Wal-Mart, Sears and Kmart, after the death of a six-month-old Iowa boy.
As Attorney General, I want to ensure that Kentucky parents, daycares and caretakers are aware of this important recall information so we can better protect our kids from products that could harm them.
If you are a parent or caretaker, make sure you sign-up to receive child product recall alerts available, at no charge, through the CPSC’s website. You can also find these alerts on my website.
I enjoyed visiting with folks from Western Kentucky Thursday night at the Western Kentucky Thank You Night reception here in Frankfort. I also appreciated a visit earlier in the day from McCracken County Sheriff Jon Hayden and folks from the Paducah Chamber of Commerce. I appreciate all that they do for Kentucky residents.
Finally, as we commemorate Black History Month this February, I hope you’ll join me in recognizing and celebrating the many extraordinary contributions of African Americans, not only in Kentucky, but across this great nation. I plan to attend a number of events, including the unveiling Thursday, February 11, of a bust of the late Justice William McAnulty, created by renowned sculptor Ed Hamilton. The unveiling will be held at the Capitol and is open to the public.
Let us all remember, throughout the year, the voices and legacy of those who have fought to tear down racial barriers across this great nation.
January 30, 2010
As we marked the one-year anniversary this week of the deadly ice storm, Kentucky families are again bracing for another winter storm. Some counties in Southern Kentucky could see as much as 10 inches of snow this weekend. Be assured, my office will be ready to respond to any reports of price-gouging in the wake of a heavy snowfall. Please stay safe and let’s not forget those who may need a helping hand in the coming days.
On Friday, I joined with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Eastern & Central Kentucky to caution Kentucky consumers about a recent mail solicitation from Florida-based Home Service USA. Consumers in Frankfort, Versailles, Richmond, Danville and Nicholasville have called my Consumer Protection Hotline as well as the BBB to complain about the notices, which look like they come from a local water utility. These notices are actually from a private business that appears to be offering a warranty service.
These notices are misleading and suggest that the recipient is required to pay an additional fee for the maintenance and repair of their water lines. Recipients are even instructed to return a form with their credit card information or to return a check. Please contact your local water company if you have questions about the merits of any warranty service. For more information, please see our press release.
Finally, I was heartened this week by news that the U.S. economy grew at a faster-than- expected 5.7 percent pace in the fourth quarter. That is the best performance in six-years and it is certainly good news for Kentucky families struggling to make ends meet. It is also welcome news for those of us in state government fighting to protect the important services we provide to families, while our budgets have been slashed. Let us all hope this marks the beginning of better economic times for the country and this great Commonwealth.
January 22, 2010
In Lexington this week, my office conducted regional training for local police and prosecutors from across Kentucky on the effective prosecution of DUI cases. The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety and Kentucky State Police assist my traffic safety resource prosecutor in this effort. I am grateful for their continued commitment to a team-approach to dealing with drunk driving. By giving police and prosecutors the tools they need to effectively enforce Kentucky’s DUI laws, we can better protect the citizens of this great Commonwealth. For more information, please see our press release.
The recent verdict in a fatal drunk driving accident in Pendleton County sent a clear message across Kentucky about the terrible consequences of drinking and driving. A jury convicted Daniel Gabbard and sentenced him to 20 years for driving drunk and killing Doug Wright, Commonwealth’s Attorney for Harrison, Nicholas, Pendleton and Robertson Counties. I appreciated the jury’s careful consideration of this case and the hard work of special prosecutors Linda Tally Smith and Jim Crawford.
Finally, our hearts continue to go out to the men, women and children of Haiti whose lives have been devastated by the January 12 earthquake. I encourage Kentuckians to support disaster relief efforts in Haiti, but I also ask that you choose carefully when considering urgent appeals for assistance. As is often the case in the wake of natural disasters, scammers will try to prey on the generosity of others.
A donation to an established organization like the Red Cross , The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund or the Center for International Disaster Information ensures that the money you have given goes to those who need it most. Additional information is available in our press release.
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January 15, 2010
I know I join many across Kentucky today in expressing my shock and sorrow after learning that 84 WHAS Radio talk show host Francene Cucinello has died at the age of 43. This is such a terrible tragedy. I thought the world of Francene and she was just far too young to leave us. She contributed greatly to the public discourse in Kentucky. Her listeners were her cause and I loved that passion. It was never a nine-to-twelve radio job to her. For example, just a few weeks ago, she and I both attended a play at Fern Creek High School on a Friday night to spotlight the issue of cybersafety. She carried her commitment with her at all times.
Francene never minced words and frankly, she made me a better public servant. I didn’t just answer questions on her show, she always followed-up to make certain we were taking action. When I was on her show talking about the issues, I knew she and her listeners were holding me accountable. I always found her well researched and she will be missed.
January 8, 2010
It has been a busy week here in Frankfort with the 2010 legislative session now underway. The lingering budget crisis is the most pressing item before state lawmakers and it is certainly on the minds of those of us who work to protect the safety of Kentucky families.
After enduring budget cuts totaling nearly 20% since I became Attorney General, I learned this week that my office faces another three-percent cut. As I told Terry Meiners on 84 WHAS on Wednesday, these cuts aren’t cutting to the bone, they’re into the bone.
The budget cuts my office has endured are unprecedented and are taking a heavy toll. My staff is down from 250 to 200 employees, yet there is no reduction in the demand for the critical services we provide, from fighting the prescription pain pill problem in Kentucky to protecting Kentucky consumers.
In particular, my Office of Rate Intervention (ORI) has seen its staff decline from 13 to 5 employees. This week, I had to inform House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate President David Williams that we are out of expert witness money. This severely limits our ability to protect rate payers against potentially excessive rate increases proposed by utility companies in filings with the Public Service Commission. In fact, since January 2008, ORI has saved Kentucky ratepayers more than $100 million.
Despite the economic challenges, I believe we’ve done a good job preserving our mission critical functions and addressing the many modern law enforcement challenges we face, such as protecting Kentucky kids from Internet predators and shutting down the prescription pill pipeline between Kentucky and Florida.
Today, Governor Beshear and Kentucky lawmakers received our 2009 Biennial Report for the Office of the Attorney General. The report details the critical services my office provides to Kentuckians and the new initiatives we’ve launched since I took office. I hope you’ll take a few moments to review the report and see all that my office has done to make Kentucky a better place to live, work and raise a family.