December 16, 2011
I'd like to congratulate the winners of our annual prescription drug abuse prevention PSA competition. This year's winning video was submitted by Joey Kenny, Jason Banta, Carlie Seligman, Jesse Mann and Micah Lineman of Henry County High School in New Castle, Ky. Ryan Froehling of Villa Madonna Academy in Villa Hills came in 2nd place with his video.
I appreciate all of the students who participated in our PSA competition and who share our concern about prescription drug abuse in Kentucky. I'd also like to thank our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners for donating some terrific prizes for our contest. This year, our winner will receive an Apple iPad donated by NADDI of Kentucky, and our runner-up will receive a $100 Amazon.com gift card. For more information, please see our press release.
We had another successful launch of eWarrants this week in Knox and Laurel counties. Under our ARRA grant, we've implemented this important law enforcement tool in 99 rural communities across Kentucky.
For those of us who work every day to protect consumers, I welcomed news on Wednesday that the Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011 (H.R. 3035) was dead. On December 7, my fellow attorneys general and I sent a letter to Congress expressing our concern about the measure, which would have amended the Communications Act of 1934 to allow for robo-calling to all cell phones, leaving consumers to foot the bill. This would have been an assault on Americans' privacy and would have made it more difficult for attorneys general to protect consumers. I'm pleased that our concerns were heard loud and clear.
My staff and I had the opportunity this week to celebrate the season at our annual holiday open house here in Frankfort. I am so grateful for the work they do each and every day to make Kentucky a safer place to live, work and raise a family.
I am also so very grateful for the many blessings my family has received in 2011. Elizabeth, Eva and I look forward to a special Christmas with the addition of baby Alex.
On behalf of my family and the staff here at the Office of the Attorney General, have a safe and joyous holiday season and a blessed New Year.
December 9, 2011
This week I joined with my fellow attorneys general in urging Congress to oppose a piece of legislation that I believe is an assault on Americans' privacy and would dilute our ability to protect consumers. The "Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011" (H.R. 3035) would amend the Communications Act of 1934 and allow for robo-calling to all cell phones, leaving consumers to foot the bill.
I am hopeful Kentucky's congressmen and senators will join me in helping stop this bill. H.R. 3035 is currently being considered in the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. For more information, please see our press release.
It's been a busy week for my Cybercrimes Unit. On Dec. 5, my investigators arrested a Kenton County man for distribution and possession of child pornography. The arrest follows a two-month undercover investigation by my office. A case my office investigated last spring came to a successful close this week in U.S. District Court in Lexington. 37-year-old William Hainsworth, a registered sex offender, pled guilty to one count of distribution of child pornography. He'll face between five and 20 years in prison at his sentencing on March 15, 2012.
My Cybercrimes investigators also arrested 36-year-old James Rogers of Richmond, Ky. following his indictment on 10-counts of possession of child pornography. My office of Special Prosecutions is handling the prosecution of that case.
Next week, I look forward to celebrating the holidays with employees here at the Attorney General's office. In lieu of an office gift exchange, my staff and I are again donating hats and gloves to women and children staying at the Simon House, a Frankfort homeless shelter.
December 2, 2011
Today marked the first meeting of the KASPER Advisory Council created to make recommendations on how to better analyze and utilize data from the Kentucky All Schedule Electronic Reporting (KASPER) system on overprescribing habits by medical professionals. During today's meeting, my office, along with Operation UNITE, Kentucky State Police and KASPER program staff, provided an overview of the prescription drug abuse problem in Kentucky.
KASPER is a powerful investigative tool, but it must be used to its fullest extent. I look forward to our participation on the KASPER Advisory Council and to aggressively and quickly pursuing any changes to improve the KASPER system.
I was also pleased to announce the successful launch this week of eWarrants in Clark and Madison counties under the $3.9 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant awarded to my office in 2009. Nearly four million Kentuckians, or more than 90 percent of the state's population now has access to eWarrants. For more information, please see our press release.
November 23, 2011
As we prepare to gather with our families to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, I hope you will join me in counting the many blessings we have and sharing them with those in need. Elizabeth, Eva and I look forward to a special Thanksgiving this year with the addition baby Alex. We are so blessed.
On behalf of everyone at the Office of the Attorney General and my family, I hope you have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.
November 18, 2011
As required by law, my office will conduct post-election audits of six counties in the coming weeks. The counties randomly selected during our public drawing on Tuesday were Casey, Breathitt, Todd, Daviess, Livingston and Garrard.
My investigators will be checking election forms and interviewing officials in each of these counties to ensure there were no irregularities. The audits serve to supplement the work my investigators and prosecutors do on the ground each election day. For more information, please see our press release.
I welcomed the opportunity this week to speak at the Kentucky’s county clerks fall conference. I talked about the work my office does on Election Day and year-round to ensure a fair and honest election for all Kentuckians. I also provided an update on the progress my office has made implementing eWarrants in Kentucky’s rural counties. To date, we’ve successfully launched eWarrants in 97 counties under the $3.9 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant awarded to my office in 2009.
Finally, I hope you’ll take a few moments to watch a series that aired this week on WLKY TV in Louisville about the epidemic of prescription pill abuse in Kentucky. Mike Donta, the father featured in the series, has traveled with me to middle and high schools across Kentucky to alert kids to the devastating consequences of prescription drug abuse.
For more information on our efforts to combat this problem, please visit http://ag.ky.gov/rxabuse.htm .
November 10, 2011
I am both honored and humbled to once again be elected to serve as Kentucky's Attorney General. Thank you for your support and for giving me the chance to continue attacking the issues that are important to Kentucky families, like cracking down on cybercrimes and combating the prescription pill epidemic that has affected communities across this great Commonwealth.
Be assured, my staff and I will continue to stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves. The people of Kentucky have one advocate, that of the Office of the Attorney General.
Again, thank you for your support and please don't hesitate to contact my office if I can be of service to you.
I also appreciate the voters who served as our eyes and ears on the ground during Tuesday's election to alert us to any voting irregularities. Our Election Fraud Hotline received 22 calls generating 25 complaints, and or election-related questions. Each complaint will be thoroughly reviewed and any that appear to be criminal in nature will be referred to the appropriate enforcement agency for investigation. For more information, please see our press release. We also announced this week the sentencing of a Salyersville man in connection with a vote-buying case in Magoffin County last year.
Finally, as our nation observes Veteran's Day tomorrow, please join me in thanking all of our veterans for their service and sacrifice. The freedom we enjoy today is a testament to the heroism of our nation's veterans. If you know a veteran, take a moment to thank them and let them know how they have made a difference in your life and the lives of countless Americans.
November 4, 2011
Investigators from my office will be on the ground next Tuesday, Nov. 8 monitoring polling places and responding to any voting irregularities or complaints that may arise during the General Election. My office will also be staffing our Election Fraud Hotline from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST on Election Day.
I appreciate the continued cooperation in this effort from Secretary of State Elaine Walker, Kentucky State Police, the U.S. Attorney's Office in both the Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky, the Kentucky Board of Elections and of course, Kentucky voters.
If you witness any suspicious activity at the polls or voting irregularities, please call my Election Fraud Hotline at 1-800-328-VOTE (8683) to register a complaint.
Be assured, each complaint that comes into my office is thoroughly reviewed. Any that appear to be criminal in nature will be directed to the appropriate law enforcement agency for investigation.
I was particularly pleased to announce the launch this week of the Warren County Domestic Violence Review Team. The announcement followed a summit I held in August with representatives of the Justice Cabinet, law enforcement, judicial community, prosecutors and victims' advocates to discuss ways we can expand domestic violence fatality review teams in the Commonwealth.
With strong support from Warren County Commonwealth's Attorney Chris Cohron, County Attorney Amy Milliken and the Warren County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, we are now moving forward with our review team in Bowling Green.
Our team will analyze information regarding local domestic violence related fatalities, identify trends and risk factors and evaluate prevention efforts. We will also make recommendations for changes in law, policies and treatment standards in an effort to prevent these types of tragic deaths in the future.
Thanks to the cooperation of local officials and our state partners, residents in McCreary, Whitley and Bell counties are now benefiting from an electronic warrant management system. Our launch on Wednesday of eWarrants in these three rural counties under the $3.9 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant awarded to my office in 2009 was a success. For more information, please see our press release.
For all of the latest news from my office, make sure to read the latest edition of our monthly newsletter.
Finally, when you set your clocks back to standard time on Saturday, please remember to change the batteries in smoke detectors to ensure they are working.
October 28, 2011
I have some startling statistics to share with you. A national survey finds that 82 percent of young adults, ages 16-24, have read a standard text message while driving. And the number one killer of American teens today is distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That’s why I am partnering with my fellow attorneys general, the NHTSA, consumer protection agencies and the Ad Council to launch a national campaign to stop teens from texting and driving.
Our message to teens is simple, your friends and family want you to put safety first. Is sending a text message or updating your Facebook status worth risking your life or the life of someone else? Please, take a few moments to talk to your teenagers about the dangers of texting and driving. Urge them to put away their cell phones and other distractions while driving. For more information, please see the press release we issued earlier this week.
Prescription pill abuse is another serious threat facing youth today. My Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners and I were able to talk to students at Greenwood High in Bowling Green and Barret Traditional Middle School in Louisville about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. I was joined by Van Ingram with the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy and two very courageous parents, Dr. Karen Shay and Mike Donta, both of whom lost children to prescription drug addiction.
Please take a few moments to watch a video my office produced about Karen’s daughter, Sarah, and her childhood friend Savannah. They are among a growing number of victims of prescription pill abuse in Kentucky. I also urge you to lock-up and monitor prescription medications in the home and safely dispose of unneeded pills.
My office is among the law enforcement agencies participating in the DEA’s National Drug Take Back Day. Drop-off sites will be available across Kentucky from 10:00 a.m. until 2 p.m. For a list of collection sites, visit the DEA’s website at http://www.justice.gov/dea/ . I’ll be at the Louisville “Take-Back” site at 4174 Westport Rd. I hope to see you there.
October 21, 2011
I was pleased to announce a $14 million settlement today with Pfizer Inc. for the illegal marketing of the urology drug, Detrol. The settlement addresses allegations that the New York-based drug manufacturer engaged in off-label marketing schemes to promote Detrol for uses that were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Under terms of the settlement, more than $11 million will go to the federal government. The remaining balance will be divided between participating state Medicaid programs. Kentucky's Medicaid program will be reimbursed more than $152,000 as part of the settlement.
When drug companies engage in the illegal marketing of their drugs, they not only put the public's health at risk, they take millions of dollars from taxpayers' pockets. For more information, please see our press release.
I'd like to thank the students and faculty at B. Michael Caudill Middle School in Richmond for the warm welcome on Tuesday. My Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners and I spoke to nearly 600 students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. We visit Greenwood High in Bowling Green on Tuesday, Oct. 25 and will be speaking to students at Louisville's Barret Traditional Middle School on Oct. 26.
For more information on our efforts to combat prescription drug abuse across Kentucky, please visit http://ag.ky.gov/rxabuse.
Finally, I appreciated the invitation this week to appear on Kentucky Newsmakers on Lexington's WKYT Channel 27. I sat down with Bill Bryant to update him on the latest news from my office, including my investigation of the for-profit college industry. I hope you're able to watch the program or catch it online at http://www.wkyt.com/political
October 14, 2011
Montgomery County High School was a gracious host Thursday as we kicked off our fall prescription drug abuse prevention school programs. I had the opportunity to speak to about 400 students about the deadly consequences of prescription drug abuse. I was joined by Dr. Karen Shay, whose daughter, Sarah, died of a prescription drug overdose in 2006, and state drug chief Van Ingram.
I also appreciated the strong support we received from community leaders, like my friend Rep. Rick Henderson, Montgomery County Sheriff Frank Shortridge, Judge Executive Wally Johnson, Mt. Sterling Police Chief David Charles, Commonwealth's Attorney Keen Johnson and County Attorney Kevin Cockrell. Combating prescription drug abuse is an "all hands on deck" issue and I am grateful for their continued support. For more information on our event, please see our press release
Our next school program is Tuesday, Oct. 18 at B. Michael Caudill Middle School in Richmond. We'll also be visiting schools in Bowling Green and Louisville in the coming weeks.
We also announced this week the start of our annual Public Service Announcement (PSA) contest for high school students. Students are encouraged to produce a 30-second video PSA on the perils of prescription drug abuse. Entries are due by Dec. 2, 2011. The winner will receive an Apple iPad, generously donated by NADDI, one of our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners. The runner-up will receive a $100 Amazon.com gift card, courtesy of the Kentucky Pharmacists Association. For instructions on how to participate, please visit my Prescription Drug Abuse page. You can also see last year's winning video, "Don't Ruin Your Life," produced by Bardstown High School's John Andrew Stone. I hope you will encourage high school students that you know to participate.
October 7, 2011
It was a privilege to join Governor Steve Beshear and House Speaker Greg Stumbo yesterday to announce new initiatives to combat the epidemic of prescription drug abuse in Kentucky. Our multi-pronged effort will include legislative action to better track prescription drugs and stop the illegal diversion of pills, licensing and regulation of pain clinics in Kentucky and expanded use of the state's prescription drug monitoring system, KASPER.
Gov. Beshear and I have discussed at length how KASPER can be better utilized to save the lives of Kentuckians who are dying every day from prescription drug overdoses. Currently, only about 25 percent of the prescribers in Kentucky are utilizing this powerful investigative tool.
Our efforts will also include educational summits across the state for physicians and pharmacists to learn about the danger of prescription drug abuse and the benefits of using KASPER. Please see our press release for more information.
I was also reminded this week of the heavy toll that prescription drug abuse is taking on cities across Kentucky. As a participant in the Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) first-ever Kentucky Drug Summit, I heard first hand from city officials struggling to deal with an issue that is devastating local families and straining the resources of police, hospitals, schools and businesses in every corner of the Commonwealth.
Through the statewide Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force I created two years ago, we've been able to assist many local communities as they combat prescription pill diversion. More than a dozen departments across Kentucky are now members of the task force. I encourage communities struggling with this issue to contact Bob Foster, my Director of Criminal Investigations, at 502-696-5300 to find out more about our task force. In a time of dwindling resources, it's important that we all work together.
I appreciate the KLC for hosting this important event and for bringing together state and federal officials who work every day to protect Kentuckians from the scourge of prescription pill addiction.
September 30, 2011
My office filed suit this week against another for-profit college. Our lawsuit alleges that National College, which has campuses in Louisville, Lexington, Florence, Pikeville, Richmond and Danville, violated Kentucky's Consumer Protection Act by making false, misleading and deceptive disclosures about its job placement numbers.
The reality is that we have more and more students leaving for-profit schools with high debt loads and without the better jobs they were promised. This type of deception must stop. National College is putting its bottom line before the hopes and dreams of students who are simply trying to better their lives.
We are seeking injunctive relief to stop National College from engaging in this type of illegal activity and seeking civil penalties of $2,000 per violation. For more information, please see our press release. This is the third lawsuit I've filed as part of my ongoing investigation of the for-profit college industry. Also, I encourage you to take a minute to read an editorial that addresses this issue in today's Courier Journal.
I was also pleased to announce a ruling this week from a U.S. District Court Judge in New York that returns a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma filed by this office in 2007 to Pike Circuit Court where the case originated. Purdue Pharma manufactures OxyContin, one of the most powerful and addictive drugs on the planet.
Purdue Pharma's misrepresentations about the addictive nature of OxyContin helped fuel an epidemic of prescription pill abuse in Eastern Kentucky and communities across the Commonwealth. For that reason, it is important that a Kentucky court adjudicate this very important case and that Purdue Pharma be held accountable for its role in this crisis.
September 23, 2011
I know the indictments handed down yesterday as a result of our investigation of Eastern Livestock came as welcome news to Kentucky cattle producers. The Magoffin County grand jury indicted four people in connection with a check-kiting scheme that cost 172 of our cattle producers more than $840,000. The loss nationwide is an estimated $130 million, affecting nearly 800 producers.
Yesterday’s indictment is the result of nine months of investigative work by my Department of Criminal Investigations, in partnership with multiple other agencies, including the state and federal agriculture departments, Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District, among other agencies. However, our work is not done and our investigation into Eastern Livestock is ongoing.
Be assured, we’re doing everything we can to get some form of restitution for our farmers and to ensure that the people involved in this check-kiting scheme are held accountable. For more information, please see the press release we issued yesterday.
Residents in Carroll, Grant and Owen counties will be pleased to know that we successfully launched eWarrants in their communities under a $3.9 million American Recovery and Reinvestment (ARRA) grant awarded to my office in 2009. To date, we’ve implemented eWarrants in 88 of Kentucky’s rural counties.
I’ll be on the road next week with members of my Office of Consumer Protection to host two AG in Your Town events. We’ll be at the Lexington Senior Center on Tuesday, Sept. 27 from 4:30- 6:00 p.m. and at the Boyd County Public Library (Kyova Branch) on Thursday, Sept. 29 from 4-6 p.m.
This is a wonderful opportunity for folks to get immediate assistance with their consumer protection issues, including debt collection, billing issues, auto repair, scams, service complaints, etc. Hope to see you there.
September 16, 2011
The investigative efforts of my Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control resulted this week in the arrest of a former employee at Community Alternatives of Kentucky-Somerset. This is a particularly troubling case as it involves the abuse of a mentally disabled resident. Protecting Kentucky's most vulnerable citizens remains a top priority of my office. I'm pleased that our investigative efforts also resulted in an indictment in this case. For more information, please see our press release.
We made another Cybercrimes arrest this week. A husband and wife in Letcher County are facing multiple charges for distribution and possession of child pornography. The charges stem from an undercover investigation that began in December of 2009 by my Cybercrimes Unit. More information is available in the press release we issued yesterday.
My Consumer Protection staff and I will hit the road later this month for two new "AG in Your Town" events. This is a great opportunity for us to offer immediate assistance to consumers who are having issues with debt collection, credit cards, auto repair or purchase problems, telemarketing scams, etc. We'll be in Lexington on Sept. 27 from 4:30-6 p.m. at the Lexington Senior Center and in Ashland at the Boyd County Public Library (Kyova Branch) on Sept. 29 from 4-6 p.m. I hope to see you there.
Tomorrow I'll be in Lexington for the U of L-UK game at Commonwealth Stadium. Best of luck to both teams as they vie for the Governor's Cup.
September 9, 2011
We continue to make great strides in implementing an electronic warrant management system in 100 of Kentucky's rural counties under a nearly $4 million ARRA grant my office secured in 2009. With the addition of Butler, Edmonson, Hancock and Ohio counties this week, we have now successfully launched eWarrants in all of West Kentucky's rural counties and a total of 85 counties statewide.
I appreciate the support we received from local officials in the 38th Judicial Circuit, including Edmonson County Attorney Greg Vincent and Hancock County Attorney Paul Madden. eWarrants is an important tool that benefits law enforcement, prosecutors and the public. For more information, please see our press release.
I know many of us this weekend will be reminded of where we were and what we were doing on September 11, 2001. Although a decade has gone by, the memories and images from that day are still painfully clear.
I was working in Louisville on Sept. 11 when Elizabeth called me and told me to turn on the television immediately. Like so many, I was shocked, saddened and stunned. It is a day that made us all want to hug our families a little closer and commit to being stronger Americans.
I plan to mark the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at the American Freedom 2011 event at Louisville's Waterfront Park. Whether in church, at a public event or in private, I hope you will join me in remembering the thousands of lives lost on Sept. 11, as well as the heroic efforts of the first responders. Their sacrifice and bravery will never be forgotten.
September 2, 2011
We are making tremendous progress in our fight against prescription drug abuse in Kentucky. As you may know, in August of 2009 I launched Kentucky's first and only statewide Prescription Drug Abuse task force to increase investigations into overprescribing physicians, doctor shopping, prescription drug traffickers and illegal out-of-state pharmacies. In two years, my task force has been involved in more than 130 prescription drug diversion investigations, made 50 arrests on nearly 200 counts and participated in 14 drug round-ups, including Operation Flamingo Road, Kentucky's largest prescription drug–bust in history.
Our success would not be possible without the new partnerships we have forged through our task force with law enforcement in communities across Kentucky, including Morehead, Manchester, Hazard, Prestonsburg and Owensboro, among others.
Additionally, our involvement with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)'s Tactical Diversion Squad and Gov. Steve Beshear's newly formed Interstate Prescription Drug Task Force will allow us to intensify efforts to stem the flow of illicit prescription pills from other states into Kentucky. For more information on our efforts, please see our press release.
Protecting kids from cyberpredators and abuse online is another top priority of mine. That's why I joined this week with 45 other state attorneys general to urge Backpage.com to take down its adult services advertisements, which are a magnet for those seeking to exploit minors. We've given the online classified website until Sept. 14 to prove its claims that it can effectively limit prostitution and sexual trafficking activity. A similar effort I supported in 2008 resulted in the removal of illegal listings on Craigslist. Here is a link to the letter we sent Backpage.com: http://goo.gl/Kja2v
Coming up next Wednesday, make sure to tune into 84 WHAS radio from 4-5 p.m. I'll be talking to my friend Terry Meiners about the latest news from my office.
This weekend, Elizabeth and I are looking forward to taking our girls to the annual Labor Day picnic at the Louisville Zoo. I hope you'll join me in paying tribute to all of the hard working men and women who have made this country great. Have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day!
August 26, 2011
It was a great honor to join Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper and Holly Petraeus at Fort Campbell on Wednesday to discuss the financial challenges soldiers and their families are facing.
Our service men and women risk their lives every day to protect our freedom. I can assure you that my office stands ready to assist and protect our soldiers from unscrupulous businesses and scam artists.
Through a series of town hall meetings, we were able to hear directly from service members and their spouses about the issues they are facing, such as predatory lending, mortgage foreclosure, housing scams, credit problems as well as concerns about for-profit colleges. One of the issues I'm looking at as part of my examination of the for-profit college industry is the aggressive pursuit of veterans and military personnel. I want to make sure that high-pressure recruiters are not preying on our soldiers and making promises they cannot deliver.
Attorney General Cooper and I have pledged to coordinate efforts between our two offices to improve consumer protections for military families. We also look forward to working closely with Mrs. Petraeus, who now oversees the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau's Office of Servicemember Affairs.
While our soldiers are fighting to protect our nation, we'll be fighting to protect them and their families from illegal financial practices. For more information, please see our press release and photo gallery.
I was pleased to announce today that my office has recovered $4.5 million for Kentucky's Medicaid program and for taxpayers. Our settlement with Par Pharmaceutical, Inc. resolves allegations that the generic drug manufacturer published grossly inflated average wholesale prices for its drugs.
Since 2008 when I took office, my Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control has recovered or been awarded more than $210 million for the state and federal Medicaid programs. More information is available in our press release.
Finally, it was great seeing folks at the Kentucky Farm Bureau's 48th annual Country Ham Breakfast. This year's prize-winning ham raised $600,000 for Kentuckiana charities.
August 19, 2011
I enjoyed spending time this week with prosecutors from across Kentucky attending the annual Prosecutor's Conference hosted by my office. As always, it was an honor to present the awards for Outstanding Commonwealth's and County Attorneys.
This year's recipients of the Outstanding County Attorney Awards are Shelby County Attorney Hart Megibben and Mason County Attorney John Estill.
Jackie Steele, of the 27th Judicial Circuit (Knox and Laurel counties) and Michael Stacy, of the 1st Judicial Circuit (Ballard, Carlisle, Fulton and Hickman counties) are our 2011 Outstanding Commonwealth's Attorneys.
I'd like to congratulate each of these winners and thank them for all they do to make our communities safer. For more information and pictures from yesterday's awards ceremony, please see our press release.
It was great seeing folks at the annual commodity breakfast on opening day of the 2011 State Fair. Farmers are one of Kentucky's most valuable resources and it was a pleasure to once again be part of an event that highlights Kentucky-grown products.
If you're heading to the fair, don't forget to stop by our booth in the law enforcement section of the South Wing. We have numerous give-away items and will be sharing information about our efforts to keep Kentucky kids safe on the Internet and to combat prescription drug abuse in the Commonwealth.
Finally, make sure to tune into Kentucky Newsmakers on WKYT TV this weekend. I talk to host Bill Bryant about the latest news from my office.
August 12, 2011
There is a new development in my investigation of the for-profit college industry. This week, my office filed a motion to intervene in a federal whistle-blower lawsuit against EDMC, the parent company of Brown Mackie College. Brown Mackie operates three campuses in Kentucky in Louisville, Ft. Mitchell and Hopkinsville.
The federal lawsuit alleges that EDMC offered unlawful incentives to recruiters to boost their enrollment numbers, in violation of the federal Higher Education Act. This type of overaggressive recruiting tactic is not only illegal; it puts both students and taxpayers at risk. Some students are unable to complete their education and are left with loans they cannot repay, which leaves taxpayers footing the bill.
Brown Mackie has received more than $6 million in need-based and merit-based financial aid from the Kentucky Higher Education Authority. I am seeking restitution from EDMC for state aid they should not have received and civil penalties.
As you may recall, my office filed suit last month against Daymar College for allegedly manipulating student's financial aid in order to prevent students from buying their textbooks and supplies cheaper from other sources. I am also continuing to lead a national, bipartisan working group, which now includes 20 states, that is looking into abuses in the for-profit college industry.
I was also pleased to announce this week another successful launch of eWarrants in Henderson and Hopkins County. Under the ARRA grant my office received in 2009, we have implemented eWarrants in 78 of Kentucky's rural counties since last fall.
Finally, I hope you'll stop by our booth near the Kidz Biz wing at the Kentucky State Fair. My office will have information on our efforts to combat prescription drug abuse as well as information on how to keep your kids safe on the Internet. I hope to see you at the fair.
August 5, 2011
We had a great first "AG in Your Town" event this week in Paducah. Staff members from my Office of Consumer Protection and I were able to provide immediate assistance to folks who joined us at the McCracken County Public Library. We helped consumers with a variety of issues including debt collection, credit cards, property taxes and junk mail. We also answered questions related to the lawsuit my office recently filed against Daymar College.
My staff and I will be hitting the road in the coming months to host additional "AG in Your Town" events, so please stay tuned for future dates and locations.
After leaving Paducah, I traveled to Fulton County to meet with local officials at the Bird's Point Levee. As you may recall, I intervened in a federal lawsuit last spring that sought to block detonation of the levee, a move that could have caused potentially catastrophic flooding in Fulton County and other portions of West Kentucky. Local officials like County Attorney Rick Major were instrumental in helping us with this case and I appreciated the opportunity to meet with them this week.
My week ended with a visit to our friends in public radio at WKMS Radio in Murray where I was able to update them on the latest news from my office. Don't forget the annual Fancy Farm Picnic is tomorrow in Graves County. Have a safe and enjoyable weekend.
July 29, 2011
This week, my office filed suit against the owners and operators of Daymar College over alleged violations to the Consumer protection Act. This action is part of our ongoing investigation into the questionable business practices of some of Kentucky's for-profit colleges.
We believe Daymar has been engaged in a sophisticated scheme to deceive and mislead students about their ability to use financial aid to purchase textbooks and supplies cheaper from other sources. Our complaint also alleges that the defendants provided false and misleading information to students about the transferability of credits earned at Daymar. We also allege that some of the programs offered at Daymar do not meet the standards of its own institutional accrediting organization.
As Kentucky's chief consumer protection advocate, I am deeply troubled by our findings. For-profit colleges like Daymar receive nearly 90 percent of their revenue from federal taxpayer dollars. This is as much a fiscal responsibility issue as it is a consumer protection concern. Persons who have information about Daymar College are encouraged to contact my office at 1-888-432-9257 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on our investigation of Daymar, please see our press release.
Next week, I look forward to launching a new consumer protection initiative called "AG in Your Town." Our first event is Wednesday, Aug. 3 at the McCracken County Public Library at 4:30 p.m.
Staff members from my Office of Consumer Protection will join me in helping consumers address a variety of issues regarding debt collection, scams, auto repair, service complaints or purchase problems. Consumers often feel that help is out of their reach when faced with a consumer problem. The "AG in Your Town" meetings will allow us to provide one-on-one service as well as important resource materials to consumers in need. I'll announce additional dates and locations in the coming weeks.
July 22, 2011
I was pleased to announce yesterday a $26.4 million civil settlement with the physician and hospital partners of the Passport Health Plan. As part of the settlement, the four investor members will each repay multi-million settlement amounts back to Passport for improper cash transfers received by each of these entities from Passport in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
As the state's chief law enforcement officer and someone who tries to protect taxpayer and Medicaid dollars from misuse, I insisted that this money come back to the Medicaid program where it could be used to provide healthcare services to those in need within the 16-county region served by Passport.
I would like to thank University Physicians Associates (UPA), Norton Hospital, Jewish and St. Mary's and University Medical Center (UMC) for stepping up and working with my office to settle this matter. I also appreciate the hard work of my Civil Director Sean Riley who spent countless hours working to recover this money on behalf of Kentucky taxpayers and the Medicaid Program.
Through the efforts of my Civil Division and Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control, we have recovered or been awarded more than $200 million for the state and federal Medicaid program. For more information, please see the press release we issued yesterday.
During these tough economic times, there are so many Kentucky families that need our help. Next week, I look forward to joining with my staff to kick-off the 2011 Kentucky Employees Charitable Campaign (KECC). The KECC Campaign is created and run by state employees. Working together, we raised more than $1,160,000 last year to help build a better Kentucky.
I hope you'll take a few minutes to visit the KECC website to find out more about our campaign and how it is making a difference for families in every corner of the Commonwealth.
July 15, 2011
While the kids are home this summer, I hope you'll take the opportunity to talk to them about some important safety issues—staying safe online and the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
Since I launched my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe initiative last fall, I've alerted thousands of Kentucky kids to the deadly consequences of abusing prescription drugs. Please let your children know that the few minutes of fun they might get from taking a pill that wasn't prescribed to them can lead to death and a lifetime of heartache for their friends and family. And remember to lock-up and monitor your prescription pills.
Additional information for both parents and kids is available on my Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Page.
It's also important to talk to your kids about Cybersafety and to follow these simple steps to keep your kids safe online. Google your child's name often to identify any personal information that has been exposed and keep the computer in a family room, kitchen or open area. Parents should also make their child list them as a friend on social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace.
Kids also need to know that the messages and pictures they post online can affect their friendships, entry into college and future employment. And NEVER meet in person someone that you have met online.
For more information on staying safe online, please take a few minutes to watch my Cybersafety video.
We had another successful eWarrants launch this week. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant my office received in 2009, we funded implementation of eWarrants in Garrard, Jessamine, Lincoln and Rockcastle counties. More information is available in our press release.
Finally, make sure to listen to my latest podcast. I talk about my investigation into some of Kentucky's for-profit colleges.
July 8, 2011
Elizabeth and I were overjoyed to announce this week the birth of our second daughter, Alexandra "Alex" Frances. Alex was born on the 4th of July at 10:45 a.m. weighing 7lbs 13 ounces. Both Elizabeth and Alex are doing well, as is big sister Eva, who turns two later this month. I appreciate all of the well wishes we have received from friends and family across Kentucky. Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. Make sure to check out the latest pictures of Alex on Facebook and Twitter.
I've enjoyed having some time with my girls this week. On Monday, July 11, I'll talk about the latest news from my office with Lee Bramlett of WQXE Radio in Elizabethtown and Lisa Clark of WAIN Radio in Columbia. I'll have information on a scam targeting Kentucky's senior citizens and an update on the efforts of my Cybercrimes Unit to make the Internet a safer place for Kentucky kids.
July 1, 2011
My Cybercrimes Unit is marking its 3rd anniversary with some impressive statistics. Since I created the unit in June of 2008, we've launched more than 230 child pornography investigations and seized more than 280,000 child pornographic images and videos from the Internet. Additionally, my Cybercrimes Unit has processed nearly 4,000 hard drives and removable devices containing crucial digital evidence, now involved in approximately 80% of crimes today.
I am extremely proud of all that we have accomplished despite budget cuts of nearly 30%. My Cybercrimes Unit remains a national model in the fight against crimes that occur online and cyberpredators who target our children. For more information, please see our press release.
I also hope you'll take a few minutes to read my monthly column discussing my investigation of some of Kentucky's for-profit schools.
This 4th of July weekend I hope you will join me in giving thanks to the men and women who risk their lives every day in defense of our nation and our freedom. On a personal note, Elizabeth, Eva and I will have a very special 4th with the arrival of baby Alex. Welcoming another child into our family is a dream come true and an incredible blessing. We look forward to sharing news and pictures of this joyful event with you on Facebook and Twitter.
June 24, 2011
I welcomed the opportunity this week to meet with Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, while I was attending the National Association of Attorneys General summer meeting. We discussed my continuing efforts to combat prescription drug abuse in Kentucky through my statewide Drug Diversion Task Force and public awareness and educational initiatives.
Mr. Kerlikowske had a great deal of praise for our efforts in Kentucky. In fact, with our prescription drug monitoring program (KASPER), he said Kentucky is out in front in fighting prescription drug abuse and is a model for other states. I hope you'll take a moment to visit my Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Page.
I issued another consumer protection alert this week to victims of the recent storms and flash flooding in Kentucky. Consumers making repairs to their homes and property need to remain vigilant against scam artists and "storm chasers." Be assured, my office also stands ready to investigate and prosecute, where necessary, allegations of price-gouging. For tips on how to protect yourself against storm related scams, please see our press release.
I also announced this week a nearly $41M multi-state settlement with GlaxoSmithkline (GSK) and SB Pharmco Puerto Rico, Inc. The agreement between GSK, Kentucky and 37 other states resolves allegations of substandard manufacturing processes. Kentucky's portion of the settlement is more than $818,000. Please see our press release for more information.
June 17, 2011
We had the privilege this week of meeting with a bright young student from Newport Central Catholic High School. Hannah Sykes, the Girls State Attorney General, toured my office and learned about the important work we do on behalf of Kentuckians. I'd like to wish Hannah and all of the other Boys and Girls State participants the best of luck in all of their future endeavors. They are Kentucky's future leaders.
I also enjoyed visiting on Wednesday with Kentucky circuit court clerks who were meeting in Northern Kentucky. I was able to update them on the implementation of the eWarrants program in Kentucky's rural counties. Under a $3.9 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant awarded to my office in 2009, we have successfully launched eWarrants in 64 rural counties. Please see the press release we issued today on the implementation of eWarrants in Floyd, Knott and Magoffin counties.
On a personal note, this will be a special Father's Day for me as Elizabeth and I anxiously await the arrival of our second daughter, Alex. Eva is also looking forward to meeting her new little sister. We are truly blessed.
June 10, 2011
I'd like to thank Rep. Dennis Keene and Sen. John Schickel, co-chairs of the Interim Joint Committee on Licensing and Occupations, for allowing me to testify today about my investigation into some of Kentucky's for-profit colleges.
As I told the Committee today, most of Kentucky's proprietary schools do very good work. They offer outstanding training and job placement services to Kentuckians who are looking to better their lives. However, some for-profits are more interested in getting their hands on public dollars rather than graduating students. I have an obligation as Attorney General to enforce Kentucky's Consumer Protection law and to ensure that students enrolling in propriety colleges are not taken advantage of or misled.
Additionally, this is a fiscal responsibility issue. I want to ensure that we are being good stewards of taxpayer dollars. Taxpayers last year spent $30 billion for loans and aid to students attending for-profit institutions. While only about 12 percent of college students nationwide attend proprietary colleges, they account for nearly 25 percent of the student loans and nearly half of all student loan defaults. This is a troubling statistic.
I look forward to continuing to work with the Kentucky General Assembly to address this issue here in the Commonwealth. I will also continue to lead a national multi-state effort through the National Association of Attorneys General that now includes 17 states.
May 26, 2011
I want Kentuckians to know that I will continue to do everything within my power to protect consumers from businesses that engage in unfair or unscrupulous activities. That is why I plan to continue to move forward and aggressively pursue my price-gouging case against Marathon Petroleum. For the latest on my efforts, please see the statement I issued on Wednesday.
I also remain concerned about the monopoly Marathon has on the wholesale gas market in some parts of Kentucky. Today, I turned over evidence we have developed to the U.S. Department of Justice's recently formed gas task force that is charged with investigating illegal activity in the oil and gas markets.
Coming up this summer, I look forward to sharing some exciting information about a new consumer protection initiative designed to help protect our military families from scams and financial exploitation.
Every day, our military service men and women risk their lives to protect our freedom. I hope you will join me this Memorial Day weekend in keeping our military families in your thoughts and prayers. Please also remember those who have lost their lives in the service of this great nation. Their bravery and sacrifice won't soon be forgotten. Stay safe and have a great weekend.
Finally, the Office of the Attorney General will be closed on Friday, May 27 as part of the budget strategy adopted by the Kentucky General Assembly. This marks the sixth and final furlough day for Fiscal Year 2011. The office will also be closed on Monday, May 30 in observance of the Memorial Day holiday.
May 20, 2011
I am hopeful that the testimony my office put on yesterday in our price-gouging case against Marathon will result in some relief at the pumps for Kentucky consumers. The expert testimony we presented clearly showed that Marathon, which controls 100 percent of the wholesale reformulated gas supply in Louisville and about 70 percent across the state, dramatically increased its prices during a time of emergency, in violation of Kentucky's price-gouging statute.
The price-gouging law only permits suppliers to increase prices if there has been an increase in costs to the supplier. Marathon's cost increases in this case did not justify the price increases at the pumps.
I appreciate the hard work of Todd Leatherman, the Director of my Office of Consumer Protection, and Assistant Attorneys General Liz Natter and Maryellen Mynear in preparing our case. They work tirelessly on behalf of Kentucky consumers. Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate has indicated he'll issue a ruling early next week.
On a personal note, my beautiful wife Elizabeth and I are celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary today. We are also anxiously awaiting the arrival of our second daughter this summer. I am truly blessed.
May 13, 2011
I want to thank the many Kentuckians who have emailed or called my office to report drastic changes in gas prices. We've seen prices jump 30 cents, rising to more than $4 a gallon in some communities. This information has helped me take action to protect residents struggling to put gas in their cars, while trying to clean-up from the recent flooding and severe weather.
Today, I filed a motion for a temporary injunction alleging that Marathon Petroleum Company violated Kentucky's price-gouging statute and illegally raised the wholesale price of gasoline during a time of emergency.
A hearing on my motion is scheduled for Monday at 9 a.m. in Franklin Circuit Court. For more information on my efforts, please see today's press release.
I would also like to thank the students and faculty at Bowling Green Junior High and Owensboro High School for their attention and warm welcome this week. I was able to speak to nearly 1,000 middle and high school students about the dangers of abusing prescription pills as part of my statewide Keep Kentucky Kids Safe initiative.
Since I launched this program last fall with concerned parents, the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, Kentucky Pharmacists Association, National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI) and Operation UNITE, we've alerted more than 5,000 students from Ashland to Bowling Green about the risks they take when they abuse prescription pills.
Prescription pill abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the country. That's why it is vital that parents monitor and secure prescription medications in the home and safely dispose of expired or unneeded pills. For more information on my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program, please visit my Prescription Drug Abuse page.
May 6, 2011
I hope you will join me in keeping Kentucky families affected by the recent severe weather and flooding in your thoughts and prayers. Disaster assistance has been requested for nearly 40 counties and thousands have been forced from their homes.
This has been a particularly difficult time for folks in Western Kentucky as a long-standing flood plan along the Mississippi River in Missouri became the focus of a federal lawsuit. I intervened in the suit in an effort to protect residents in Fulton County and areas of Western Kentucky threatened by flood waters. With so many families in harm's way due to historic flooding, I supported the Army Corps of Engineers decision on May 2 to detonate the Birds Point levee. For more information, please see the statement I released this week.
If you have experienced storm damage or flooding, be aware that you could be the target of fly-by night contractors and scam artists. I assure you, I will not allow families that have been hurt by severe weather to be victimized a second time. If you are a victim of a storm related scam, call my Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-432-9257.
To report suspected price-gouging during this time of disaster, email email@example.com.
Of course all eyes will be on Kentucky this weekend for the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby. Elizabeth and I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones at the track. Of course, Churchill Downs has a special place in my heart. My father and I will always cherish the chance we had last year to watch our horse, Stately Victor, run in the Derby. It was a dream come true and a fitting tribute to the memory of my childhood friend, Victor Perrone.
We look forward to watching Stately Victor run again at Churchill Downs in Saturday's Woodford Reserve race. I also like Animal Kingdom in the Derby and Summer Soiree in today's Oaks race.
Whether you go to the track or watch the race on television, have a safe and enjoyable Derby Day and may God bless our old Kentucky home.
April 29, 2011
I was pleased to learn today that a U.S. District Judge granted my request to intervene in a lawsuit filed by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster attempting to block detonation of a levee on the Mississippi River. The judge also denied Attorney General Koster's request for a temporary restraining order. This is potentially a matter of life and death for Kentuckians who live along the river. I appreciate the judge's careful consideration of this case. For more information, please see our press release.
Like many, my thoughts and prayers have been with the families here in Kentucky and across much of the south who have been affected by this week's deadly storms. Lives have been lost and homes destroyed by rising flood waters, tornadoes and high winds. Once again, Mother Nature is testing our resolve.
On April 25, Gov. Steve Beshear declared a state of emergency in response to the storms. The Gov. also agreed to trigger a price-gouging provision to help prevent unscrupulous businesses from raising prices on essential goods needed during times of disaster. This provision will remain in effect for 30-days and empowers me to investigate and prosecute, where appropriate, allegations of price-gouging.
To report suspected price-gouging, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call my Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-432-9257.
I hope you'll join me in taking part in tomorrow's national prescription drug "Take Back" day to help prevent increased prescription drug abuse and theft. I'll help collect expired or unneeded prescription pills at Lowe's on South Hurstbourne Parkway in Louisville tomorrow morning. More than 80 collection sites have been designated across the state, including my office in Prestonsburg. To find a collection site near you, please visit my prescription drug education and prevention page.
As always, it was a pleasure to be a guest on Kentucky Newsmakers with WKYT's Bill Bryant. I was able to update him today on all of the latest news from my office. I hope you'll tune in.
Coming up next week, I look forward to making Morning Line radio calls at the Kentucky Derby Museum on Tuesday and taking part in Dawn at the Downs with the Louisville media as we count down to Derby 137.
April 22, 2011
I appreciate the warm welcome I received today from students and faculty at Christian County High in Hopkinsville and Madisonville North Hopkins High in Madisonville. My Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners and I talked to nearly 1,400 students today about the deadly consequences of abusing prescription pills.
I am carrying this urgent message into middle and high schools across Kentucky to let kids know it is never okay to take pills that are not prescribed to them. Joining me at Christian County High was Rep. John Tilley, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. I appreciate his leadership in addressing this important issue.
I was also pleased that Lori Blakeley with the Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force and Madisonville pharmacist Gary Russell were able to join me at North Hopkins High. Prescription pill abuse is an issue they deal with every day.
With our program earlier this week at Bell County High School, I have taken this important message to nearly 2000 Kentucky kids. Our next Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program is Tuesday, April 26 at Prestonsburg High. For more information on this important initiative or to bring this program to a school in your area, please visit my Prescription Drug Abuse education page.
I hope you have a safe and enjoyable Easter weekend.
April 15, 2011
With more than 80 prescription drug overdose deaths every month in Kentucky, I was pleased to learn yesterday that Florida Gov. Rick Scott has apparently reconsidered his plan to eliminate a prescription database monitoring program in Florida. It's estimated that 60 percent of illegal pain pills on the streets of Kentucky are from Florida. Gov. Scott's decision to implement the program will undoubtedly save lives in Kentucky and in Florida. (More information)
I look forward to sharing this important information with students at Bell County High School on Tues. April 19, where my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners and I will talk about the devastating consequences of prescription drug abuse. Later that evening, it will be a privilege to join 5th District Congressman Hal Rogers at an Operation UNITE celebration in Rockcastle County.
I was able to personally thank victim advocates from across Kentucky for the work they do on behalf of victims and their families. We had more than 300 attendees at the 2011 Victim Assistance Conference here in Frankfort, hosted by my office. The conference is held each year during National Crime Victims' Rights Week.
Sadly, more names have been added to the Kentucky Victims of Homicide Memorial at Louisville's Resthaven Memorial Park. I appreciated the opportunity to speak at today's ceremony and to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the victims' families. As Attorney General, I will continue to fight every day to ensure justice and healing for victims and their families.
April 8, 2011
I appreciate the Lexington Herald-Leader running my letter to the editor this week highlighting my concerns about some of Kentucky's for-profit colleges. The letter I submitted was in response to criticism National College President Frank Longaker directed at my investigation into the questionable business practices of some of Kentucky's proprietary schools. I hope you'll take a few moments to read my letter.
I'm pleased to report that by May 1, 2011 more than half of Kentucky's counties will have an electronic warrant management system (eWarrants). The eWarrant system not only improves the efficiency of the criminal justice system, it improves public safety by eliminating the backlog of unserved or lost warrants. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant my office received in 2009, we're on track to implement eWarrants in 100 of Kentucky's rural counties by the end of the year.
With the assistance we received from Union County Attorney Brucie Moore and other local officials and law enforcement, eWarrants went live this week in the 45th and 5th judicial circuits representing McLean, Muhlenberg, Crittenden, Union and Webster Counties. For more information, please see our press release.
I look forward to sharing more news from my office with WQXE radio listeners in Elizabethtown and WAIN listeners in Columbia next week. I'll talk to WQXE's Hollie Sexton and WAIN's Lisa Clark on Monday morning.
April 1, 2011
I hope you'll take a few minutes to read a Letter to the Editor I submitted to Florida's Sun Sentinel newspaper. My letter appeared in today's paper and is supportive of Attorney General Pam Bondi's efforts to ensure that Florida's legislature follows through with its plan to implement a prescription database monitoring program.
Federal law enforcement officers estimate at least 60% of the illegal pills in Kentucky come from Florida. It is vital that Florida officials implement a monitoring database, similar to Kentucky's KASPER system. As I stated in my letter, it is a matter of life and death to the people of our states. (More information.)
I was also heartened by news that Florida is following our lead and creating a statewide prescription drug diversion task force. I have shared information with Florida officials about the success of the task force I launched in 2009. We've seized more than 4,500 illegal prescription pills and participated in the largest prescription drug round-up in Kentucky history, resulting in more than 500 arrests. Recently, we executed search warrants at two Johnson County pain clinics as part of a year-long investigation into over-prescribing physicians.
I am also proud of our efforts to educate Kentucky students about this very serious problem. I'll be speaking to middle and high school students in the coming weeks in Bell, Christian, Floyd, Warren and Davies counties.
I look forward to cheering on the Wildcats in tomorrow's NCAA Final Four game against UConn. I spoke with Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen yesterday and he has accepted my friendly Final Four wager. I'm offering a Meacham Country Ham from my father's home of Union County, while AG Jepsen is prepared to ship some Connecticut-grown oysters should his Huskies fall to the Cats. I think oysters will go nicely with a UK victory.
March 25, 2011
I was grateful for the opportunity yesterday to talk to students at Boyd County Middle School about a very serious problem facing Kentucky kids. My Keep Kentucky Kids Safe Partners and I spoke to about 700 6th, 7th and 8th graders as part our statewide effort to warn Kentucky middle and high school students about the devastating consequences of prescription drug abuse.
I want Kentucky kids to know that taking pills that are not prescribed to them can hurt their performance in school and on the playing field, it can prevent them from finding a good job and most importantly, prescription pill abuse is illegal and deadly.
It took a great deal of courage for Mike Donta and Bill Harris, of Boyd County, to join me yesterday. Both lost sons to prescription pill addiction. Michael Donta died last year at the age of 24, while Kyle Harris died in 2009 at the age of 22. Their fathers delivered a powerful and painful message to the students about the heavy toll that pill addiction has taken on their families.
I'll be visiting with students in Bell, Warren, Davies, Christian and Floyd counties in the coming weeks to alert them to the dangers of prescription pill abuse. For more information about our awareness programs and efforts to combat prescription pill abuse, please visit our Rx Abuse page.
I was also pleased to announce the successful launch this week of eWarrants in the 46th Judicial Circuit (Breckenridge, Grayson and Meade counties) and in Gallatin County. For more information, please see our press release.
March 18, 2011
Like so many Kentuckians this week, my thoughts and prayers have been with the people of Japan. The devastation following last Friday's earthquake and tsunami is truly heartbreaking. I encourage Kentuckians, who are able, to support disaster relief efforts in Japan. I also want to caution you that scammers may try to prey on your generosity.
Fraudulent charitable solicitations can come in a variety of forms including social networking sites, emails and direct calls. To ensure that your donation reaches those in need, make sure you donate to recognized charities Also, utilize online resources to research charities, avoid giving cash and never give your personal or financial information to someone soliciting contributions. For more tips, see our press release.
If you haven't filed your income tax return yet, please consider making a donation to the Child Victims' Trust Fund (CVTF) through the Kentucky Income Tax Refund Check-Off. Located in the "Fund Contributions" section of the Kentucky income tax form, the tax refund check-off allows Kentuckians to donate to CVTF, a non-profit program that provides local communities with funding for child sexual abuse prevention programs. The sale of the "I Care About Kids" special license plates as well as private donations also help fund the CVTF. For more information, please visit the CVTF's homepage.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention March Madness. This is an exciting time for Kentuckians with the Boys Sweet 16 and NCAA tournaments underway. I hope you are able to spend time with friends and family watching our talented players and cheering-on your favorite teams.
March 11, 2011
I welcomed the opportunity earlier this week to meet with my fellow attorneys general in Washington, D.C. as part of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) Spring Meeting.
While at NAAG, I was able to discuss my concerns about Florida Gov. Rick Scott's proposal to eliminate implementation of a prescription drug tracking system with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. I look forward to working with Attorney General Bondi and our other colleagues to combat illicit prescription drugs in our communities and to ensure that prescription drug monitoring programs like Kentucky's KASPER System are in place in all 50 states.
I had the opportunity to meet with Senator Tom Harkin from Iowa to discuss our mutual concerns about some for-profit colleges and whether they are truly serving the interests of students who are trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. As you may recall, in December 2010, I launched an investigation into the questionable business practices of six proprietary colleges currently operating in Kentucky.
It was also a privilege to hear from Attorney General Eric Holder who addressed our group.
My office continues to make progress in the implementation of an electronic warrant management system (eWarrants) in Kentucky's rural counties. On Wednesday, we successfully launched eWarrants in the 40th Judicial Circuit (Clinton, Cumberland and Monroe counties) and the 57th Judicial Circuit (Russell and Wayne counties). To date, we have implemented eWarrants in 36 Kentucky counties under the $3.9 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant awarded to my office in 2009. For more information, please see our press release.
Our regional DUI training wrapped up today in Lexington. I appreciate the hard work of our Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor Robert Stokes and all he does to ensure that police and prosecutors in Kentucky have the tools and training they need to effectively enforce our DUI laws. We must continue to work together with law enforcement, prosecutors, traffic safety experts and victims' support agencies to ensure tough consequences for impaired drivers in the Commonwealth.
Coming up on Monday morning, I look forward to talking with WQXE Radio's Lee Bramlett in E-town and WAIN's Lisa Clark in Columbia.
March 4, 2011
It is more important than ever for Kentuckians to be wise consumers. As part of National Consumer Protection Week being held March 6-12, I want to remind consumers, young and old, of the importance of staying safe online, avoiding identity theft and protecting against financial fraud. Please see our press release for important consumer protection tips for kids, senior citizens and businesses.
It was an honor to join Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller earlier this week in launching the third annual "March Against Hunger" food drive competition. We appreciate the media attention this issue has gotten. I'd also like to thank my friend Terry Meiners with 84 WHAS for inviting us to talk about "March Against Hunger" on his program. During these trying times, it is vital that we do whatever we can to help re-stock the shelves of regional food banks that have served as a lifeline for families and children.
Another pressing issue facing Kentucky families and children is prescription drug abuse. I hope you'll take a few moments to listen to my latest podcast discussing this issue and the importance of prescription drug tracking programs.
Finally, I look forward to talking on Monday with Alan Watts of WKDZ Radio in Cadiz and Scooter and Myla from Bowling Green's WBVR Radio. During our regular radio conversations, we talk about the latest news from my office and discuss issues that affect local listeners. I hope you can tune-in.
February 25, 2011
Families across Kentucky are hurting during these trying economic times and our area food banks serve as a lifeline for those who are struggling, particularly our children. That's why on Monday, Feb. 28, I'll join Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller at a press conference to announce the kick-off of the third annual "March Against Hunger" food drive competition.
This annual event calls on the legal community in both Indiana and the Louisville-area to raise money and food donations to benefit 11 regional food banks. Among those benefitting is Louisville's Dare to Care food bank, which serves a 13-county area in Indiana and Kentucky.
I am challenging attorneys in the Louisville-area to do all they can to support this event and help re-stock the shelves of our regional food banks. Since 2009, more than 75 law firms have participated in "March Against Hunger," collecting nearly 130 tons of food. Attorney General Zoeller and I will announce the food drive kick-off at the Dare to Care food bank Monday afternoon. We also look forward to talking about this important initiative with my good friend Terry Meiners just after Monday's 4:00 p.m. news on 84 WHAS Radio.
I hope you'll tune in and don't forget to listen to my monthly podcasts. I'll have a new podcast available next week, as well as our February newsletter.
February 18, 2011
An investigation by my office, in coordination with the FBI, has resulted in the indictments of three Magoffin County residents on allegations of vote-buying. A federal grand jury in Ashland, Ky. on Thursday returned the indictments against 54-year-old Randall Salyer, 43-year-old Donald Trusty and his wife, 43-year-old Patricia Trusty, all from Salyersville. The defendants are accused of paying several individuals for their votes during the November 2010 general election.
The allegations of vote-fraud came to light on Election Day as investigators from my office conducted spot checks at polling precincts across Kentucky.
I appreciate the U.S. Attorney's office for handling the prosecution of this case. My office will continue to work closely with the U.S. Attorneys from the Western and Eastern Districts, Kentucky State Police, the FBI as well as state election officials to ensure that Kentucky's election laws are upheld.
Working closely with local, state and federal authorities on Feb. 16, my statewide Prescription Drug Diversion Task Force executed search warrants at two pain clinics and two residences in Johnson County. The searches were the result of a year-long investigation by my task force into over prescribing physicians. Our investigation in Johnson County is ongoing.
Combating prescription drug abuse in Kentucky is an "all hands on deck" issue. That's why I have made it a priority to not only increase investigations into illegal prescription drug trafficking in Kentucky, but to raise awareness about this very serious problem. More people are dying from prescription drug overdoses in Kentucky than in traffic accidents.
I've already spoken to students in Frankfort, Lexington and Northern Kentucky about the dangers of abusing prescription pills. In the coming months, my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners and I will take our prescription drug abuse prevention program into schools across Eastern and Western Kentucky. For more information on our efforts, please visit http://ag.ky.gov/rxabuse.
As Attorney General, I have made it a priority to utilize the latest technology and social media to keep Kentuckians informed on important issues that affect them. In addition to my regular postings on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and my weekly blog, I am recording a monthly podcast. This month's topic is data privacy and how to protect your personal information online. I hope you'll take a few minutes to listen.
February 11, 2011
We continue to make progress implementing the electronic warrant management system (eWarrants) in rural counties across Kentucky. This week, we successfully launched eWarrants in the 43rd and 29th judicial circuits (Barren, Metcalfe, Adair and Casey counties), which brings to 27 the number of counties that have received the system under a $3.9 million grant awarded to my office in 2009.
I appreciate the continued support we're receiving from local officials, like Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton, as we work to launch eWarrants in 100 rural counties by year's end.
I had an opportunity to meet this week with business and community leaders celebrating Paducah Chamber of Commerce Day at the Capitol. The Chamber has been a steady and strong voice for businesses in the Paducah/McCracken County community for more than 60 years. I applaud the chamber's commitment to its local community and to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
It was a pleasure to be a guest on WKYT's Kentucky Newsmakers program today with Bill Bryant. I updated Bill on the latest news from my office including my continued efforts to combat the scourge of prescription drug abuse across Kentucky. Kentucky Newsmakers airs at 11:00 a.m. on Sundays on Lexington's WKYT-TV. You can also watch it online at www.wkyt.com/political
Finally, tomorrow marks the 202nd anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln in a one-room log cabin in Kentucky. As you enjoy time with friends and family this weekend, please take a moment to reflect on the monumental contributions Lincoln made as the sixteenth President. His dedication to freedom, human liberty and equality shaped this great nation and each and every one of us.
February 4, 2011
It was an honor to join U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, law enforcement, teachers and Kentucky school children at a rally on Thursday in support of proposed legislation to require a prescription for pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in meth.
With the number of meth labs in Kentucky soaring, we need to make it tougher for criminals to purchase these drugs. Meth is poisoning our communities and killing our kids. Although an inconvenience for some, it is a small price to pay to save the lives of children across the Commonwealth.
For the past three years, Congressman Rogers and I have worked closely on combating the scourge of prescription drug abuse in Kentucky. On Feb. 1, I was able to join with our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners and the Northern Kentucky Education Council to host a regional prescription drug abuse prevention and education program.
I appreciate the high school students, educators and concerned citizens who participated in this event. I hope they will warn others about the devastating consequences of abusing prescription pills and remind families of the importance of monitoring and securing prescription medications in the home.
I also encourage folks in Northern Kentucky to take advantage of the numerous drug drop-off boxes made available through the efforts of the Kenton County Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse and area law enforcement. I look forward to partnering again with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for the 2nd National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Sat. April 30.
Finally, it was great to see old friends and welcome all of the newly elected County Attorneys to the annual Kentucky County Attorney's Association meeting in Lexington. I always welcome the opportunity to personally thank our County Attorneys for the work they do to make our communities safer. Their assistance as we continue to implement the electronic warrant management system (eWarrants) in Kentucky's rural counties has been invaluable.
January 28, 2011
As part of Data Privacy Day being recognized internationally today, I want to remind Kentuckians about the importance of guarding their personal data on the Internet. Make sure to check your privacy settings on social websites, like Facebook, and use secure networks. Always think before you post and never post your vacation plans. For more information on how to protect your personal data on the Internet, please see our press release.
Thanks to the hard work of the investigators and attorneys in my Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control, we've announced a more than $2 million civil settlement with AmeriHealth Mercy Health Plan, the third party administrator of the Passport Health Plan. The settlement was a result of a nine-month investigation into allegations that AmeriHealth falsified medical data it submitted to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services and University Health Care (UHC) in order to receive a bonus payment from UHC.
This is a significant settlement that represents treble, or triple, the amount of damages that AmeriHealth will have to pay back to the taxpayers of the Commonwealth. As per an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance we entered into with AmeriHealth, the company has agreed to take corrective action, never engage in this type of behavior again and abide by all of the rules of Kentucky's Consumer Protection Act and the Medicaid Program.
We've had another successful launch of the eWarrants system in the 11th Judicial Circuit (Green, Taylor, Marion and Washington counties). This brings to 23 the total number of counties that have received the eWarrant system under the $3.9 million ARRA grant my office received in 2009.
Finally, I'm looking forward to traveling to Northern Kentucky on Tuesday, Feb. 1 to join my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe Partners and the Northern Kentucky Education Council for a regional prescription drug abuse prevention and education program. We'll be talking to area high school students, mental health counselors, educators and concerned citizens about the devastating consequences of prescription drug abuse and what we're doing to combat it across the Commonwealth. For more information on our efforts, please visit our prescription drug abuse page. To bring our program to a school in your area, email us
January 21, 2011
Today, I filed my papers with the Secretary of State's Office to seek re-election as Kentucky's Attorney General in 2011. I appreciate Kentucky State Auditor Crit Luallen and Sen. Ray Jones signing the papers in support of my candidacy.
I believe passionately in public service, and am very much looking forward to talking with Kentucky voters about my record of standing up for Kentucky families. Despite budget cuts of about 30 percent, we have created a nationally-recognized Cybercrimes Unit that has taken almost 200,000 child porn images off of the Internet and is cracking difficult cases and assisting local law enforcement in processing digital and computer evidence.
We passed cybersafety legislation and created an Internet safety program in our schools. By partnering with other law enforcement agencies, we created Kentucky's first statewide prescription drug task force and participated in the largest drug bust in Kentucky history. We also created a public awareness program to educate high school and middle school students about the dangers of prescription drugs.
Medicaid Fraud collections are up over 600 percent, and we have increased abuse and neglect prosecutions. We stood up to companies that gouged consumers and we saved ratepayers over $250 million in proposed utility rate increases.
I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished in the past three years, and it has only been possible through efficient management and the work of what I believe is the best staff in Kentucky State Government.
I became involved in public service because I care about Kentucky and I want to make our Commonwealth a safer and better place to live, work and raise a family. I will continue to fight the scourge of drugs and will work with other agencies to redouble the Commonwealth's efforts to combat methamphetamine abuse.
I am extremely concerned about consumer abuses in the for-profit college industry and intend to devote significant personal efforts to uncovering and exposing problems in this area. And, as always, I will be a voice for citizens of the Commonwealth who have been wronged.
Elizabeth and I are so grateful to all who have opened your hearts and homes to us and we are so humbled by the number of people who have lent us support in so many different ways. I will always be thankful to the people of the Commonwealth for the honor of serving as Attorney General.
January 14, 2011
We completed implementation this week of an electronic warrant management system (eWarrants) in Kentucky's 10th Judicial Circuit (Nelson, Larue and Hart counties). This brings to 19 the total number of counties that have received eWarrants under the $3.9 million ARRA grant awarded to my office in 2009.
I appreciate the support we received from local officials, including Circuit Judge John David "Jack" Seay, during the implementation process. The eWarrant system benefits law enforcement, the justice system, and Kentucky citizens. I'm pleased that we're progressing toward our goal of implementing eWarrants in 100 rural Kentucky counties by year's end. We look forward to our next successful launch in the 11th Judicial Circuit (Green, Marion, Taylor and Washington counties) in the coming weeks. For more information, please see our press release.
On Monday, January 17, state government offices will be closed in observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. This is the 25th anniversary of the federal holiday marking Dr. King's birthday. I hope you will join me in taking a moment to reflect on Dr. King's legacy. His message of hope, healing and peace resonates as strongly today as it did decades ago.
January 7, 2011
I hope you and your family had an enjoyable holiday season. We are off to a wonderful start in 2011 and I look forward to continuing to serve the families of this great Commonwealth as Attorney General. The work we are doing here in the Attorney General's office is touching lives, young and old, in every corner of the Commonwealth. My staff and I would like to share with you some of our many accomplishments from the past year.
In 2010, I reorganized my Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control to devote additional investigators to elder abuse and neglect cases. We charged 21 individuals or entities last year, bringing to 55 the total number of abuse and neglect charges since I took office in 2008. Additionally, my Medicaid Fraud unit was awarded or recovered more than $20.3 million. Under my watch, we have now recovered more than $141 million for the state and federal Medicaid programs and Kentucky taxpayers.
My Office of Rate Intervention (ORI) accomplished a great deal in 2010. Rate increase settlements with E.ON U.S., the parent company for LG&E and Kentucky Utilities, Columbia Gas, Duke Energy and other utilities resulted in a savings for Kentucky rate payers of approximately $127.5 million. Since 2008, we've saved ratepayers $230.3 million in proposed rate increases.
Working closely with concerned parents and government partners, I launched a statewide initiative to alert Kentucky families, particularly our teens, to the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. My partners and I have spoken to hundreds of middle and high school students about this alarming problem and will continue to urge parents to monitor and secure prescription drugs in the home and safely dispose of unused medications. You can find more information on our statewide initiative on my prescription drug abuse information page at ag.ky.gov/rxabuse.
My Statewide Prescription Drug Diversion Task Force opened 91 investigations and made nine arrests on 30 counts in 2010. Since 2008, my Drug Branch has opened 377 investigations, made 118 arrests and seized nearly 4,500 illegal pills.
We are also making progress toward our goal of implementing the Electronic Warrant Management System (eWarrants) in 100 of Kentucky's rural counties by the end of 2011. The implementation is already complete in 16 counties under the $3.9 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) my office received in 2009.
I hope you will take a few moments to review all of our accomplishments from 2010. My staff and I look forward to announcing new initiatives in 2011 that build on my commitment to make Kentucky a safer place to live, work and raise a family.