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  • November 21

    As required by law, my office will conduct post-election audits of six Kentucky counties in the coming weeks. The counties randomly selected during our public drawing yesterday afternoon were Bourbon, Gallatin, Mercer, Metcalfe, Owsley and Simpson. My investigators will be checking election forms and interviewing officials in each of these counties to ensure there were no irregularities. The audits ensure a fair and equitable election process in Kentucky and supplement the work my investigators did leading up to and during the general election. For more information, please see our press release.

    I welcomed the opportunity to serve as a guest speaker at the KACo 40th Annual Conference on Thursday. I was proud to speak with many of our state and local leaders about the great work that continues in the Office of the Attorney General.

    Finally, it was such an honor for me to be recognized by the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (FAAR) this week as a 2014 Leadership Award recipient. The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility is a national nonprofit organization that leads the fight against drunk driving and underage drinking. We are working hard to prevent drunk driving and underage driving in Kentucky. It's vital that we teach our teens how to stand up to peer pressure and make safe choices behind the wheel, and I want to thank FAAR for recognizing our efforts to create a healthier and safer Commonwealth for Kentucky families. You can learn more about the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility at Responsibility.org.

    2014 Leadership Award
  • November 14

    This week I sent a letter to officials with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) urging the company to take action to schedule public meetings regarding the possible decision to shut down two coal-fired units located at its Shawnee Fossil Plant near Paducah.

    The TVA is considering whether to retrofit the units with scrubbers or retire them, and I want part of its decision-making process to include public meetings in and around Paducah, where the bulk of TVA’s residential, end-use customers live. I’ve also requested that the TVA provide all feasibility studies and modeling data, and address the economic impacts that would occur in southwestern Kentucky if the company retired the units.

    It’s my job to speak up for the citizens of Kentucky and that’s exactly what I’ve done by contacting the Tennessee Valley Authority about this important issue. You can read my letter to the TVA here. I also appreciated the opportunity to speak with WPSD-TV about this matter. You can watch the station’s report here.

    I want to remind students that the deadline to submit a video for our prescription drug abuse PSA contest is quickly approaching. In a 30-second video, create a message warning Kentuckians about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and how it’s impacting our Commonwealth. Students can learn the contest details and also view examples of our past winners at ag.ky.gov/rxabuse.

    While you’re visiting ag.ky.gov, check out my office’s latest newsletter. In it, you can read more about my recent visit to Fort Campbell, how you may benefit from a $105 million settlement with AT&T, and our scholarship program for high school seniors whose lives have been impacted by prescription drug abuse.

    Finally, it was wonderful to see my good friend Crit Luallen sworn in as Kentucky’s 56th Lieutenant Governor during her public swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol this afternoon. In so many ways, I am grateful to her guidance and wisdom, and I am incredibly proud of her accomplishments and service to our Commonwealth.

  • November 7

    I want to thank Kentucky voters who utilized my office’s Election Fraud Hotline to report irregularities during the general election on Tuesday. We received 226 calls from more than 50 counties. The majority of these calls involved procedural questions; however, we did receive 33 complaints of electioneering within 300’ of the polls and 16 calls involving allegations of vote buying/selling.

    Each complaint will be thoroughly reviewed and any that appear to be criminal in nature will be referred to the appropriate agency for further investigation. I also appreciate my investigators, attorneys and staff members in my Department of Criminal Investigations who monitored our hotline and also patrolled polling places across the Commonwealth on Tuesday to help ensure a fair and honest election for all Kentuckians. For more results from our Election Fraud Hotline, please see our press release.

    Kentucky seniors whose lives have been impacted by prescription drug abuse are eligible to apply for two great scholarships available through my office. The Sarah Shay and Michael Donta Memorial Scholarships for Hope and Healing will be awarded to one young man and one young woman who have excelled in their personal and academic lives despite seeing firsthand the devastating consequences of prescription drug abuse. I had the wonderful opportunity earlier this year to meet our two inaugural scholarship recipients, and I’m thrilled that this money will be used once again to benefit two young people in Kentucky who have embraced a positive lifestyle for themselves and their families. You can learn more about this scholarship program in my latest column here.

    Finally, I want to congratulate Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson on his new position in the White House as Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. His experience and passion for public service will be an asset to the White House and a benefit to all Kentuckians.

    I am also incredibly proud of my good friend Crit Luallen, who will serve as the next Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Crit is the gold standard of public service. She has served as Kentucky’s Auditor and in the administrations of six prior Kentucky governors. Crit instantly brings a wealth of policy experience and gravitas that will help Gov. Beshear cement his legacy of fiscal responsibility and a healthier Kentucky.

  • October 31

    It was another busy week in the Office of the Attorney General.

    On Wednesday I announced the completion of our Domestic Violence Special Report: Kentucky 2010 Homicides. This report, which examines nearly three dozen intimate partner-related homicide cases that occurred in Kentucky in 2010, is part of a multifaceted approach by my office and the Statewide Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee to prevent domestic violence-related deaths in the Commonwealth. For more information about the report, click here.

    On Monday, I’ll be calling in to my friends on WLGC in Ashland, WKDZ in Cadiz, WBVR in Bowling Green, and WTTL in Madisonville.

    I want to remind folks that our Election Fraud Hotline is up and running and will be taking calls from 6 a.m. (EST) to 7 p.m. (EST) on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 4. Kentuckians who witness election irregularities or possible election law violations are encouraged to call 800-328-VOTE (800-328-8683). The Election Fraud Hotline is an important tool in the fight to ensure honest and fair elections for all Kentuckians. I want to encourage voters to be our eyes and ears in the polling places and report any election irregularities to our hotline. The hotline received 205 calls from more than 60 counties during the 2014 Primary Election and 183 calls from nearly 60 counties during the 2012 General Election.

    Finally, I’d like to wish each of you a Happy Halloween. I’m looking forward to taking Eva and Alex trick-or-treating around the neighborhood. I hope you and your family have a safe weekend.

  • October 24

    I was honored to visit our soldiers at Fort Campbell this week and speak with them about consumer protection issues. It’s disappointing, but unscrupulous scam artists prey on our military members; they know that when a servicemember is deployed, families are more vulnerable.

    From payday lenders to for-profit colleges, people are targeting our servicemen and women, and I want our soldiers to be on guard. That’s why my office created an online toolkit to help military members know their rights under the law and their recourse if they’ve been scammed. The toolkit provides useful tips and resources on nearly a dozen consumer-related issues tailored to servicemen and women and their families, including identity theft prevention, mortgage scams, debt collection, payday lending, and for-profit schools.

    The men and women based at Fort Campbell, as well as Fort Knox, proudly serve our country, and my office is committed to protecting them from scams and predatory business practices. Our Consumer Protection Guide for Military Servicemembers is available here.

    I had a wonderful time visiting two great schools this week. On Monday, Dr. Karen Shay and I took our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program to Bourbon County Middle School, sharing our message about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and heroin with students there. We reached nearly 600 kids that day, and I want to thank Principal Travis Earlywine for allowing us to speak at his school. Our presentation was a great way to kick-off Drug Awareness Week at Bourbon County Middle, and it was exciting to hear so many students pledge to stay drug-free. If you’d like to watch our program from the school, check out our YouTube channel.

    I was also proud to participate in the I Know Everything program at Jeffersontown High School with the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility and the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety. This dynamic program highlights the issues of drunk driving and distracted driving, and it helps high school students test their knowledge of safe driving skills. It’s so important to teach our young drivers how to stand up to peer pressure and to make safe choices behind the wheel. Thanks to I Know Everything, Jefferson County Public Schools, and the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety for a great event. For tips to help your teen learn how to be a safe driver, click here.

    I Know Everything event
  • October 22

    My children are in elementary school but I am teaching them to drive. Every day as they ride with me I try to model good driving behaviors because being a role model for them is really important at their age. We talk about other drivers’ bad decisions and why it’s important to obey the rules of the road.

    One day they will be old enough to get behind the wheel and start learning to drive. It’s a parent’s job to be sure they understand the many skills they must possess in order to drive safely. I was proud to participate in the I Know Everything program today at Jeffersontown High School with The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility and the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety. This dynamic program helps high school students test their own knowledge of safe driving skills. I am proud to say that 83 percent of the students at the Jeffersontown High School I Know Everything event were able to identify unsafe driving practices.

    Parents, it’s National Teen Driver Safety Week. Remember that it’s our job to have ongoing conversations about safe driving. We need to model good behavior for our kids. That means no texting or reading emails while driving, no cell phones while driving, wear your seat belt, obey traffic laws, pay attention, and anticipate other driver’s actions.

    We need to teach them how to stand up to peer pressure and to make safe choices like not drinking alcohol and driving. Go to IKnowEverything.com for great resources on how to have that conversation again and again over the years.

  • October 17

    This week I teamed up with Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller to help put an end to youth smoking.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2011, 24 percent of Kentucky high school students had smoked a cigarette and nearly 32 percent had used some form of tobacco. Both of those categories put Kentucky as the worst state in the country when it comes to teen tobacco use.

    AG Zoeller and I are working alongside Legacy®, the public health foundation that works to prevent youth smoking through its nationally recognized truth® campaign. Legacy’s truth® campaign recently launched a new initiative called “Finish It” to empower the nation’s youth to become the first tobacco-free generation.

    Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the country, and I hope this initiative helps our Kentucky teens understand that they need to stop the habit before they start.

    You can learn more about the truth® campaign here

    I care deeply about our kids and keeping them healthy is an issue I’m passionate about. On Monday, I’ll be visiting Bourbon County Middle School, addressing the dangers of prescription drug abuse and heroin with students there. Nationally, prescription painkillers are the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. Through our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program, concerned parents and I work to educate middle and high school students about the consequences of misusing prescription drugs. I always appreciate the support of our school leaders who allow us to visit their schools and share our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe message.

    If you haven’t seen our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program, I encourage you to check it out on our YouTube Channel.

    I’m also looking forward to traveling to Fort Campbell next week. I’ll be joining the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Holly Petraeus and Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery to discuss consumer protection issues with soldiers on base. Mrs. Petraeus and I attended a similar event at Fort Knox earlier this year, and I’m pleased to be partnering with her once again, as well as AG Slatery, to help provide our soldiers with the assistance they need if they feel they have been scammed.

  • October 10

    Kentucky AT&T Mobility customers who have been hit with unauthorized “cramming” charges on their cell phone bills now have the opportunity to seek restitution through a $105 million national settlement announced on Wednesday.

    The settlement resolves allegations that AT&T Mobility placed charges for third-party services on consumers’ cell phone bills without their knowledge or consent, a practice known as “mobile cramming.” These services are often billed as “premium” text message subscriptions, such as horoscopes, trivia and sports scores, that consumers have never heard of or requested.

    No one likes to pay for something they didn’t authorize. This settlement will help stop cramming on Kentuckians’ cell phone bills and return money to those who paid for charges that they neither requested nor used.

    Consumers can learn more about the settlement and submit claims under the AT&T Mobility cramming refund program on the Federal Trade Commission’s website here. The deadline to file a claim is May 1, 2015.

    Earlier this week, I was proud to join a bipartisan group of 13 other state attorneys generals in announcing support for legislation that would improve federal oversight of the for-profit college industry.

    The Propriety Education Oversight Coordination Improvement Act, sponsored by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) and U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD), would require representatives from at least nine different federal agencies to coordinate efforts and publish a report about for-profit colleges, which would help Title IV borrowers make better informed decisions about the school they may want to attend.

    The unfair and unethical business tactics of some for-profit schools are leaving too many students drowning in debt with worthless degrees, while taxpayers are left footing the bill for debts that are never repaid. The for-profit college industry lacks real oversight and accountability at the federal level, and this legislation will help prevent future abuses of the student loan system.

    As Attorney General, I’ve worked hard to keep for-profit schools honest. In Kentucky, we’ve filed suit against four propriety colleges for allegedly misleading students about job placement rates. I also lead a national bipartisan working group of 37 state attorneys general who are reviewing the questionable practices of some for-profit schools.

    Finally, I had the opportunity to speak at the 85th Annual Kentucky League of Cities Conference & Expo on Thursday. The Kentucky League of Cities is an invaluable resource for our Commonwealth, and I appreciated the invitation to speak with the members and share my vision for moving Kentucky forward.

    KY League of Cities 2014 Conference
  • October 3

    Human trafficking is considered the fastest-growing crime in the world. It is invading neighborhoods and communities across the country, including towns and cities here in Kentucky. According to the Kentucky Rescue & Restore Coalition, 160 human trafficking victims have been identified in the state and more than half of those victims were trafficked as children.

    Human trafficking is often called modern-day slavery because it truly is slavery. Victims of this crime are denied their basic rights and exploited for profit, often being trafficked for labor or sex. We are working hard in the Office of the Attorney General to bring greater awareness to this issue. I recently joined the Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention (CSAEP) Board and the Catholic Charities of Louisville HOPE Campaign to unveil an online video series that takes a closer look at human trafficking from the various perspectives of anti-human trafficking advocates, police officers, state legislators and even trafficking survivors.

    This thought-provoking series is an invaluable tool produced to help all Kentuckians better recognize and prevent human trafficking in our communities. I hope you’ll check out my latest column to learn more about human trafficking and our recent outreach campaign created to prevent it.

    By working together, we can help keep all of our children and families in Kentucky safe.

    On Monday morning, I’m looking forward to chatting with my radio friends at WLGC in Ashland, WKDZ in Cadiz, WBVR in Bowling Green, and WTTL in Madisonville. Be sure to tune in if you live near one of those areas.

  • September 26

    Recently, school districts nationwide, including at least one in Kentucky, have been targets of a bogus textbook scam.

    This type of scam typically involves people sending a phony invoice to an organization and hoping it will pay before realizing it never ordered or received the products. In this case, the invoices are being sent from a fake company called Scholastic School Supply for books the schools didn't order.

    This week, I joined the Kentucky Department of Education and the Better Business Bureau in urging Kentucky school districts to be vigilant of this scam and to identify and report any fraudulent invoices they may receive.

    It's troubling that scammers are preying on schools and attempting to steal taxpayer money used to pay for the resources needed to help educate our children. I want every school in Kentucky to be aware of this scheme so that no school is caught up in its deception. You can learn more about this latest scam here.

    On Tuesday, I was pleased to once again announce the start of my annual prescription drug abuse prevention PSA contest for middle and high school students. Education is an integral part of our strategy to combat prescription drug abuse in Kentucky, and this contest provides students the opportunity to produce creative and informative public awareness videos that are used to alert all Kentuckians to the heavy toll that prescription drug abuse is taking on families across the Commonwealth.

    Our PSA contest is just one component of our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe initiative, which now serves as a national model and is being duplicated by attorneys general in other states. In fact, it was great to see Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens and his office kick off their very own prescription drug abuse PSA competition earlier this month.

    Students can learn more about our video PSA contest on my website.

    You know, prescription drug abuse and addiction is not just affecting Kentucky; it's affecting our entire country. I hope you'll take the time to check out this powerful story about a high school student in Texas who has produced a documentary to raise awareness about prescription drug abuse among students and parents.

    Cyrus Stowe's message is an important one, and I applaud him for wanting to shed light on this issue. Our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe PSA contest gives students here in our state a chance to reach their peers in a very similar way.​

  • September 19

    On Thursday, my wife, Elizabeth, and I were proud to serve as honorary co-chairs of the 8th annual Exploited Children’s Help Organization (ECHO) Taste for Prevention fundraising event. ECHO is a volunteer-based agency that has worked since 1983 to raise awareness about the prevalence of child abuse and ways to prevent it.

    During my tenure as Attorney General, I’ve made children and fighting child abuse a top priority. In 2008, I created a Cybercrimes Unit that has arrested more than 120 people on child porn charges and helped take nearly 500,000 child porn images off the Internet. My Cybercrimes Unit now serves as a national model for attorneys general across the country.

    Additionally, my office has provided almost $1 million to agencies that help prevent sexual abuse by educating our kids, and we help fund agencies that care for children after they’ve been abused. Child abuse is a public health issue that is preventable, and I am proud to support the important work ECHO does each day to keep our kids safe. To learn more about ECHO, click here.

    Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to speak with the Kentucky Chapter of the American College of Surgeons about my ongoing efforts to fight drug abuse and addiction in our Commonwealth. These are issues that have affected so many families in Kentucky, including my own.

    That’s why as your Attorney General, I created Kentucky’s first statewide prescription drug task force, and I’ve worked in a bipartisan fashion with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to help shut down the pill pipeline between our states.

    Each year, I travel across the state with parents who have lost children to drug overdoses, and we educate kids at our middle and high schools about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and heroin. To date, we’ve reached more than 45,000 students, teachers, and parents through our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe initiative, and I’m looking forward to visiting even more schools in the coming months.

    I’m also working hard to provide more access to substance abuse treatment. We’re using approximately $32 million recovered by my office in settlements with two pharmaceutical companies to expand substance abuse treatment across the Commonwealth, including treatment for opiate addictions.

    I know that our efforts to increase education and access to treatment are making a difference in our state, and I remain committed to doing everything I can to make Kentucky an even better place to live, work, and raise our families.

  • September 12

    Earlier this week, I joined 38 attorneys general in issuing a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging the agency to allow phone companies to utilize call-blocking technologies that would better protect consumers from unwanted calls and scams.

    The technology allows carriers to identify and block unwelcome sales calls at their customers’ request. However, some phone companies have been reluctant to use it, in part because of the belief that federal law prevents carriers from blocking calls on their consumers’ behalf. Our letter sent to the FCC requests a formal opinion that would clarify this issue.

    In 2013, my Office of Consumer Protection received nearly 1,300 complaints about unwanted calls. Just as spam filters have helped reduce the amount of unwanted emails users receive, the adoption of call-blocking filters by phone companies may very well be an effective tool that can be used to help solve the telemarketing problem.

    I also encourage Kentuckians to take the time to sign up for the state’s No Call List at nocall.ky.gov. Registering your telephone number on the No Call List is a simple step that can help keep you from receiving unwanted and fraudulent calls. If you’re already registered and receive an unwanted call, you can report it by filing a complaint on the No Call website.

    On Thursday, I had the opportunity to speak with the 2014 Leadership Kentucky class about my role as Attorney General and the issues facing our Commonwealth. Leadership Kentucky is an outstanding organization committed to helping move Kentucky forward, and I appreciated the invitation to talk with this year’s participants.

    Next week, I’ll be catching up with my radio friends and updating them on the latest news from my office. On Monday morning, I’ll be on the air with WLGC in Ashland, WBVR in Bowling Green, WTTL in Madisonville, and WKDZ in Cadiz. I hope you’ll tune in if you live near one of those areas.

  • September 5

    It was an honor this week to visit four substance abuse treatment facilities in northern and northeastern Kentucky selected for funding through the KY Kids Recovery grant program. Not only did I have the pleasure of joining First Lady Jane Beshear to present the recipients with money that will help expand adolescent substance abuse treatment and services at each facility, but I also had the opportunity to see firsthand the incredible work these organizations are doing each day.

    Because of the KY Kids Recovery grants, Ramey-Estep Homes in Rush, Ky., and Pathways, Inc., located in Ashland, Ky., will expand adolescent substance abuse treatment services by opening treatment beds and creating intensive outpatient and follow-up care programs that will help save lives in Kentucky. Additionally, Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky in Covington, Ky., and Necco, located in Florence, Ky., will also use the funding for critical programs and services that will help provide second chances to our youth who are working hard to seek treatment and get healthy. I made a commitment to expand adolescent treatment in northern Kentucky, and I was proud to make good on that promise. To read more about the KY Kids Recovery grant program and see a complete list of the 19 KY Kids Recovery recipients, click here.

    Following a nationwide data breach involving Community Health Systems (CHS), my Office of Consumer Protection and I are encouraging Kentuckians who were referred to or received medical care from a doctor affiliated with CHS in the last five years to review their credit reports and accounts for possible unauthorized activity. In August, the company publicly reported a data breach affecting at least 4.5 million patients across the country.

    The breach allowed hackers to gain access to patient names, addresses, social security numbers, birthdates, and telephone numbers. Patients affected will be receiving a letter from CHS explaining the breach and how to enroll in free identity theft protection and credit monitoring services.

    I strongly urge Kentuckians who may have been affected by the data breach to take advantage of the free services being offered by the company, regardless of whether they’ve identified suspicious activity in their personal accounts.

    Consumers with questions or concerns about the cyberattack are encouraged to call 1-855-205-6951 or visit www.chs.net. For information on preventing identity theft or to report suspicious activity, contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-438-4338 or my Office of Consumer Protection at 1-888-432-9257.

    Finally, I hope you will also take a moment to check out my monthly newsletter, Kentucky General News. The newsletter was just posted this week and highlights the great work my office accomplished in August. In it, you can read more about the $16.65 billion settlement we reached with Bank of America, our new consumer protection toolkit for military servicemembers and their families, and an online video series that is increasing awareness about human trafficking in Kentucky. Kentucky General News is available here.

  • August 29

    Last week, I joined the Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention Board and the Catholic Charities of Louisville HOPE Campaign to unveil an online video series created to increase awareness about human trafficking.

    Our seven-part video series provides a closer look at human trafficking from the various perspectives of trafficking survivors, Kentucky legislators, and law enforcement officials. Each video focuses on a specific trafficking-related issue, and the series will serve as an invaluable tool that will help all Kentuckians better recognize and prevent human trafficking in our communities.

    The human trafficking online video series is available for viewing at ICareAboutKids.ky.gov. I encourage you to take the time to watch and share these important videos.

    I’d also like to wish everyone a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend. I hope you'll join me in remembering the hard-working families across Kentucky who have made our Commonwealth a great place to live, work and raise a family.

  • August 22

    On Thursday, I joined the U.S. Department of Justice in announcing a nearly $17 billion settlement with Bank of America. This historic settlement will return $23 million to the Kentucky Retirement Systems (KRS).

    As a result of the settlement, the bank acknowledges that it sold billions of dollars of residential mortgage-backed securities without disclosing to investors key facts about the quality of the securitized loans. Simply put, Bank of America defrauded investors, including our pension system, when it sold these high-risk products.

    In addition to the $23 million recovered for KRS, the agreement also requires Bank of America to provide $7 billion to assist consumers across the country who were hurt by the housing collapse and the recession. Kentucky will share a significant portion of this money, which will be used to finance affordable rental housing, provide loans to credit-worthy borrowers, and help communities still recovering from the financial crisis.

    Kentucky was one of only six states to join this case. My office worked hard to make this settlement happen, and I’m proud that we have recovered this money and held accountable another bad actor driven by greed. You can read more about the settlement here.

    Also this week, I had the privilege of welcoming prosecutors from across the Commonwealth to the annual Kentucky Prosecutors Conference. This year, the recipients of our Outstanding Commonwealth’s Attorney Awards were Edison Banks, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the 47th Judicial Circuit representing Letcher County, and Chris Cohron, who serves as Commonwealth’s Attorney for the 8th Judicial Circuit representing Warren County. The recipients of the 2014 Outstanding County Attorney Awards were Jennifer Hutchison-Corbin, Adair County Attorney since September of 2000, and Mike Foster, who has served as the Christian County Attorney for more than three decades.

    I'd like to congratulate each of these recipients and thank them for all they do to make our communities safer. For more information and pictures from the awards ceremony, please see our press release.

    Finally, I hope you’ll check out my guest column in the latest LEO Weekly to read about my efforts to fight prescription drug abuse and the resurgence of heroin in Kentucky. Curbing the cycle of addiction in our Commonwealth is an issue I am passionate about. That’s why I’ve traveled the state speaking to students about the dangers of misusing drugs, helped sponsor legislation to increase penalties for heroin traffickers, and created a grant program that’s funding comprehensive adolescent substance abuse programs in every region of Kentucky.

    We cannot arrest our way out of this problem, but by continuing to invest in education and treatment, we can save lives in Kentucky.

    Bank of America Settlement
  • August 15

    It’s hard to believe that summer is nearing an end and kids are heading back to school. I hope that the students who are already hitting the books had a great week in their new classrooms. You know, the start of a new school year is a great time to chat with your kids about the dangers of underage drinking. A new year can bring new peers and new pressures, so it’s important to encourage your children to make healthy choices and avoid risky behavior. The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (FAAR) is a great resource on promoting responsible decision-making, especially when it comes to alcohol. You can find lots of helpful information on the FAAR website here.

    Earlier this week, I joined Gov. Beshear, First Lady Beshear, and members of the Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory Committee in announcing 19 substance abuse treatment grant proposals from across the Commonwealth that have been selected for funding through the KY Kids Recovery Program. These grants will fund public-private partnerships that will result in expanded treatment for teens in every region of Kentucky. This initiative is a dream I’ve had for almost seven years, and I’m so thankful it is now a reality. To learn more about the program and the grant recipients, please visit KYKidsRecovery.ky.gov.

    On Tuesday, I visited Fort Knox to speak with soldiers and their families about financial scams and to let them know about the resources and services available to them through the Office of the Attorney General. I was also grateful to be joined at Fort Knox by Holly Petraeus, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office of Servicemember Affairs.

    Servicemembers represent a unique target for scammers. They receive paychecks on a regular basis and families are often separated during deployments, which makes them targets for those who want to make a quick buck. That’s why my office has made a consumer protection toolkit available online that is specifically tailored to servicemen and women and their families. The "Consumer Protection Guide for Military Servicemembers" provides useful tips and resources on nearly a dozen consumer-related issues, including identity theft prevention, mortgage scams, payday lending, and for-profit schools. You can check out our new online toolkit here.

    As always, I had a great time helping kick off the Kentucky State Fair at the annual Kentucky Commodity Group Appreciation Breakfast on Thursday. I had the opportunity to catch up with old friends, meet new ones, and even serve up some of our great Kentucky Proud foods to those in attendance.

    This year at the state fair, my office and I are raising awareness about Medicaid fraud and elder abuse prevention. Our booth is located in the "Kidz Biz" section of the South Wing at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center. If you’re heading out to the fair, I hope you’ll stop by to learn more about how we can all work together to help keep our most vulnerable citizens safe.

    2014 Kentucky Commodity Group Appreciation Breakfast
  • August 8

    I was proud to partner this week with the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety, Kentucky State Police, and other area law enforcement agencies to help kick-off the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign." According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a person is killed in a drunken-driving crash every 51 minutes. Over the Labor Day weekend, those fatalities increase to one every 34 minutes. The message of this year’s "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" high-visibility enforcement campaign says it all: drunken drivers will be caught and arrested. Working together, we can save lives and put an end to the tragedies caused by impaired driving.

    On Wednesday, I announced Kentucky will receive more than $600,000 as a result of a settlement my office reached with the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. The settlement resolves allegations that Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Pfizer, improperly marketed its drug Rapamune. This type of deceptive behavior can be a dangerous and even deadly practice, and I will continue to protect Kentuckians from drug companies that put profits over patients. You can read more about the settlement here.

    As your Attorney General, I am also committed to protecting Kentuckians from excessive utility rates, and I’ve worked hard to stop more than $1 billion in proposed rate increases by utility companies. There are also actions you can take as a consumer to cut down on utility costs. In my latest column, my Office of Rate Intervention and I have put together a list of five simple energy-saving tips to help you and your family cut costs this summer. By making a few minor adjustments to how you use energy in the home, you can save money on your bill and reduce your environmental impact as well. My column is available online here.

    While you’re visiting ag.ky.gov, make sure to check out our updated homepage. The improved page makes our website more user-friendly, and it allows visitors to better locate the latest news and initiatives from our office. You’ll also find links to all of our social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I hope you’ll give us a "like" or "follow" to keep up with all the great work that continues in the Office of the Attorney General.

    Finally, I had the opportunity to spend some time this week with the participants in the Office of the Attorney General’s 2014 Summer Internship Program. We had a great group of interns joining us in the office this year, and I appreciate their diligent work and interest in public service. I wish each of them the best as they resume classes in the coming weeks. Pictures from our "Bagels with the Boss" breakfast are up on our Facebook page.

    "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over"
  • August 1

    More than 17,000 servicemen and women across the country will receive approximately $98 million in debt relief following a multistate settlement reached this week with consumer lender Rome Finance over predatory lending practices.

    Rome financed consumer debts to servicemembers, typically for computers and gaming systems from retailers online or at malls near military bases. The company targeted our servicemen and women by luring them into deceptive lending schemes with the promise of no money down and instant financing. Rome Finance hid or insufficiently disclosed extremely high rates of interest, causing servicemembers to ultimately pay multiple times the retail price for the products they purchased.

    These brave men and women work each day to protect our freedom, and the predatory actions taken by Rome Finance are unconscionable. As a result of the settlement, 228 Kentucky servicemembers will receive $1.2 million in debt relief. I’m pleased that this resolution will provide our military members with the money they are owed. You can read more about the settlement here.

    I hope you’ll also take a moment to check out the consumer protection tips my office has available to help keep you safe from home repair scams. On Monday, a Leitchfield, Ky., man pleaded guilty to theft charges after he was paid to perform repair services on two Louisville homes but never returned to complete the work. I’m proud of my Office of Consumer Protection investigators for bringing this case to a successful close. As a result, this fraudulent contractor will pay nearly $6,500 in restitution to the victims.

    Of course, I'm looking forward to meeting with folks at the 134th Fancy Farm Picnic tomorrow. I'll be speaking and attending several events. If you're making the drive to Graves County and St. Jerome Parish, please stop by and say hello.

    Next Monday, I’ll be catching up with my radio friends at WLGC in Ashland, WKDZ in Cadiz, WBVR in Bowling Green and WTTL in Madisonville. If you live near one of those areas, I hope you’ll tune in.

  • July 25

    This week, the U.S. Dept. of Energy (USDOE) awarded a $420 million, three-year contract to Fluor Federal Services to transition the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant. This is welcome news for Kentucky, especially the Paducah region. I have remained committed to ensuring that the federal government stood by its promise to clean up the site, and I am very pleased that the USDOE is now moving on this important project.

    My office and I have also kept in close contact with economic development leaders in Paducah, and I recognize that the area has been hard hit by the closing of the plant. This news is the first step toward ensuring the future of the site and creating a significant amount of jobs, especially for employees who’ve been out of work since the plant closed.

    On Wednesday, Michael Schweitzer, a former youth coach in Boone County, pleaded guilty to sexually abusing six boys from August 2011 through June 2013, and he was sentenced to 35 years in prison. My Office of Special Prosecutions handled the prosecution of this case, and I appreciate their hard work in bringing it to a successful close. Because of their efforts, we have put another child predator behind bars.

    Finally, there’s still time to submit a claim in the $310 million settlement involving 12 Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) manufacturers over claims of price fixing. The settlement affects almost every consumer and business in Kentucky that purchased computers and other electronic devices from 1998 to 2002. You may file a claim online by visiting DRAMclaims.com. The deadline to file is August 1.

  • July 18

    A recent multistate settlement may help put some money back in your pocket. The $310 million settlement involves 12 Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) manufacturers over claims of price fixing, and it affects almost every consumer and business in Kentucky that purchased computers and other electronic devices from 1998 to 2002.

    DRAM is a form of fast and inexpensive data storage found in computers, video game consoles, printers, MP3 players, and other electronic devices. I encourage you to take advantage of this settlement and get what is owed to you. However, in order to benefit from the settlement, you must file a claim by August 1. To learn more about the settlement and submit an online claim, visit DRAMclaims.com.

    On Wednesday, my office recognized Military Consumer Protection Day. Military Consumer Protection Day is part of a year-round campaign hosted by the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Defense, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Military Saves, and other consumer advocacy organizations to empower and engage service members, veterans and their families with information related to pocketbook issues.

    My office is proud to partner in this important initiative. We are committed to protecting our service men and women from unscrupulous business practices and assisting them in making wise financial decisions. Our website, ag.ky.gov, also contains a variety of useful information targeted toward issues impacting service members and their families.

    For important tips about managing money, dealing with credit and debt, building savings, protecting personal information, recognizing identity theft and avoiding fraud, please visit military.ncpw.gov. Additional information is also available under the "Protecting Our Military Personnel" section of ag.ky.gov.

    A New York Times editorial published online this week takes a look at my efforts to protect consumers against the deceptive business practices of some for-profit colleges. As the leader of the national working group of state attorneys general reviewing this issue, I remain committed to standing up for students who have been exploited by schools more interested in making a profit than providing an education. You can read the article here.

    Next Monday, I’ll be catching up with WAIN’s Lisa Clark and WLGC’s Jim Forrest. I’m also looking forward to taping Kentucky Newsmakers with Bill Bryant later in the week.

  • July 11

    This week, I had the opportunity to testify in front of the Tobacco Oversight Committee about how we’re saving Kentucky’s tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) payments. I joined Governor Steve Beshear last month in announcing a crucial settlement that fully restores Kentucky’s MSA payment for 2014 and will result in a net gain of $57 million for Kentucky.

    The settlement is one our state can be proud of, and it is great news for our farmers, communities, and health advocates. Millions of dollars of MSA funds are used across Kentucky to increase farm income, invest in early childhood development programs, and fund public health initiatives. This settlement will allow our Commonwealth to continue supporting these imperative programs and services, benefiting Kentucky for decades to come. You can read more about the MSA settlement in my recent column here.

    For all of the latest news from my office, make sure to check out our monthly newsletter, Kentucky General News. In it, you can learn more about an IRS phone scam targeting Kentuckians, the latest developments involving my office’s investigation into National College, and my recent visit to Chrysalis House with First Lady Jane Beshear. Kentucky General News is available here.

    Finally, I enjoyed speaking with the Kentucky Magistrates and Commissioners Association and Kentucky County Judge Executives Association at their joint summer conference held in Louisville this week. We have many dedicated leaders serving the counties across our Commonwealth, and I was proud to update them on the great work that continues in the Office of the Attorney General.

    7-10-14
  • June 27

    On Wednesday, a Franklin Circuit Court judge affirmed his previous order requiring National College to pay civil penalties for its failure to comply with a subpoena issued by my office. In total, the judge imposed a fine of $147,000 on National College, and he also affirmed a $10,000 fine levied on National’s attorneys for their role in delaying my office’s investigation.

    The actions of National College and its attorneys in failing to cooperate with my office on this important issue have been simply beyond the pale. The judge’s order follows three-and-a-half years of litigation over a civil subpoena seeking information about potential violations of the Kentucky’s Consumer Protection Act. National refused to respond to the subpoena and instead filed suit to block our investigation. The judge’s ruling was sound, and I appreciate his careful consideration on this matter. You can read more about the ruling here. Rest assured that my fight to protect consumers against the deceptive business practices of some for-profit colleges will not stop.

    On Thursday, I joined members of the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue to share with them the recent developments involving a settlement of the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) litigation. The settlement, which I announced earlier this month alongside Governor Steve Beshear, is one that Kentucky can be proud of. Following a complex, decade-long legal battle with tobacco companies involved in the MSA, I worked to end the litigation and find an agreement that was suitable for all parties. The result is an agreement that fully restores Kentucky’s MSA payment for 2014 and will result in a net gain of $57.2 million for Kentucky. This is great news for our farmers, communities, and health advocates, and this settlement will continue to have a positive impact on our Commonwealth for the foreseeable future. Additional information about the MSA settlement can be found here.

    Recently, my office has received calls from consumers who report that they have been contacted by scammers claiming to be associated with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The scammers are reportedly identifying themselves as IRS representatives and threatening to take legal action against victims they insist owe money to the IRS.

    I encourage you to be vigilant of this scam, and hang up the phone if you receive one of these calls. Also keep in mind that when the IRS first contacts a taxpayer, they do so via postal mail, not by phone. You can learn more about how to protect yourself from phone scams in our press release, and please don’t hesitate to contact my Office of Consumer Protection at 888-432-9257 with any additional questions or concerns you may have.

  • June 20

    On Thursday, I was proud to join First Lady Jane Beshear in Lexington to present Chrysalis House with a ceremonial check for a $600,000 grant from the Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory Committee. Chrysalis House is Kentucky’s oldest and largest licensed substance abuse treatment program for women, specializing in the treatment of pregnant and parenting women. Chrysalis House is receiving the funds from settlements I secured from two pharmaceutical companies, and the money will allow the facility to continue operating and providing treatment to more than 200 women each year.

    In February, I had the wonderful opportunity to tour Chrysalis House, and I was able to see firsthand how our investment will impact the lives of the women and children there. I am proud of the women seeking treatment at Chrysalis House. They are working hard to break the cycle of addiction. You can learn more about Chrysalis House and my visit with First Lady Beshear here.

    Earlier this week, I announced that Kentucky joined 48 other states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government in a $550 million settlement with mortgage lender and servicer SunTrust Mortgage. The three-year settlement will provide direct payments to Kentucky borrowers for past foreclosure abuses, implement tough new mortgage servicing standards, and grant oversight authority to an independent monitor.

    The agreement’s mortgage servicing terms largely mirrors the 2012 National Mortgage Settlement reached in February 2012, and it will hold another major mortgage servicer accountable for its unacceptable past practices. Approximately 265 eligible Kentucky borrowers whose loans were serviced by SunTrust and lost their homes to foreclosure from 2008 through 2013 and encountered servicing abuse will be eligible for a payment. Eligible borrowers will be contacted about how to qualify for payments. More information about the settlement with SunTrust is available here.

    Finally, I was pleased to join Kerry Harvey, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, in announcing today the conviction of a Lexington man on child pornography charges. This week, a federal jury found Erik Hentzen guilty of receiving and possessing thousands of child porn images.

    This case was investigated by my Cybercrimes Unit, which has seized more than 422,600 child pornographic images and videos from the Internet since its creation in 2008. The unit’s investigative efforts have also resulted in a 100 percent conviction rate. I appreciate the hard work of my cybercrimes investigators and their dedication each day to making the Internet a safer place for Kentucky kids.

  • June 13

    This week, I was proud to join Gov. Steve Beshear in announcing a settlement of the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) litigation, which will provide crucial funding to farmers, early childhood development programs, and public health in Kentucky for the foreseeable future. In 1998, the major tobacco companies agreed to pay states, including Kentucky, more than $200 billion to settle lawsuits over the health care costs related to smoking. However, for the past ten years, there has been a legal battle between the tobacco companies and the states over portions of the payments.

    The agreement announced Thursday ends the long-running dispute and restores certainty to Kentucky’s annual payments from the MSA. Under the terms of the settlement, we avoid the possibility of costly litigation and the potential loss of the entire annual MSA payment. This agreement fully restores Kentucky’s MSA payment for 2014 and will result in a net gain of $57.2 million for Kentucky to continue supporting agriculture, public health initiatives, and early childhood services.

    This is great news for our farmers, communities, and health advocates. These funds are critical to Kentucky, and we can’t afford to lose them. I appreciate Gov. Beshear and his staff working diligently with my staff to hammer out a settlement that is good for Kentucky and will ensure our tobacco payments for decades to come. You can learn more about the MSA and Thursday’s announcement here.

    As required by law, my office held a public drawing on Monday afternoon to select the six Kentucky counties that will undergo post-election audits. In the coming weeks, my investigators will conduct independent inquiries in Meade, Allen, Clark, Warren, Breathitt, and Russell counties. We’ll be checking election forms and voting machines, interviewing county officials, and looking for any election irregularities. It’s also important to note that this was a random drawing, and the selection of these counties does not imply that irregularities are suspected. These audits ensure a fair and equitable election process and supplement the work our investigators did leading up to and during the primary election. You can read more about our post-election audit drawing here.

    On Tuesday, I joined my father, Tom, and members of the Kentucky Supreme Court to honor former Kentucky Chief Justice John Palmore at a special recognition ceremony at the Capitol. For many years, Justice Palmore has been a great friend and mentor to me, and I was honored to share a few words about his dedication to public service. Photos from the ceremony are available on my Facebook page.

    My office also had the pleasure of visiting this week with representatives of Kentucky’s Boys and Girls State program. Emily Kiphuth of Fort Knox and Joseph Vettiankal of Henderson spent Thursday morning in the office learning about the important work we do to protect Kentuckians and uphold the laws of our great Commonwealth.

    Sponsored by the American Legion, Boys and Girls State teaches young men and women responsible citizenship, and it gives them the opportunity to see firsthand how their local and state government works. I’d like to thank each of the Girls and Boys State participants for their interest in public service and wish them all the best as they embark on their journey to becoming Kentucky’s future leaders.

  • June 6

    I had a great week joining fellow attorneys general from across the country at the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) annual Summer Meeting, where we convened to discuss the key issues impacting our states. While there, I had the opportunity to moderate a session on exploring and identifying best practices for prescription drug monitoring programs. During my tenure as your Attorney General, I've reached across party lines to work with Attorney General Pam Bondi in Florida to ensure that her state implemented an electronic prescription drug monitoring system similar to Kentucky's KASPER system. Together, we've worked to shut down the pill pipeline between Florida and Kentucky and to see that all 50 states have prescription drug monitoring programs in place that can share data across state lines.

    My office also shared with conference attendees a presentation on our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program. Keep Kentucky Kids Safe has been, and continues to be, an important outreach initiative, and I appreciate the many school leaders across the Commonwealth who allow us to visit their schools and discuss with their students the dangers of misusing prescription drugs. I strongly believe our efforts are making a difference in the lives of our children here in Kentucky, and I'm proud that our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program now serves as a national model and is being duplicated by attorneys general in other states.

    Next Monday, we'll conduct our post-election audit drawing. Six counties will be chosen in a random drawing to undergo independent inquiries to identify any potential irregularities that may have occurred during the primary election on May 20. These audits ensure a fair and equitable election process in Kentucky and supplement the work our investigators did leading up to and during the primary election.

    If you want to know more about the work we are doing here in the Office of the Attorney General, please check out our monthly newsletter, which was just posted online this week.

    Finally, I'll be catching up with my radio friends at WLGC, WAIN, WBVR, and WTTL on Monday morning. I hope you'll tune in if you live in one of those areas.

  • May 30

    On Thursday, I had the wonderful opportunity to announce the recipients of two $1,500 college scholarships created last year to help high school seniors whose lives have been impacted by prescription drug addiction. Kimberly Barrett, a graduate of Owsley County High School, and Josh Hollan, a graduate of Hazard High School, are two very deserving teens who were selected to receive the "Sarah Shay and Michael Donta Memorial Scholarships for Hope and Healing."

    The scholarships are in memory of 19-year-old Sarah Shay and 24-year-old Michael Donta. Shay, of Morehead, Ky., died of a prescription drug overdose in 2006. Donta, of Ashland, Ky., lost his battle with prescription painkiller abuse in 2010. Sarah and Michael’s parents, Dr. Karen Shay and Mike Donta, now travel with me across Kentucky to help educate middle and high school students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and heroin. Together, through my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program, we have shared this important message with approximately 40,000 students, teachers, and parents in Kentucky.

    Kimberly and Josh are two incredibly determined teens who have embraced positive lifestyles, excelling in both their personal and academic lives, despite seeing firsthand the devastating consequences of prescription drug abuse. During their high school careers, Kimberly and Josh participated in numerous community service and extracurricular activities, held down part-time jobs, and maintained excellent GPAs. I commend both teens on their hard work, and I wish them only the best as they pursue their college degrees. This fall, Kimberly will be attending the University of Kentucky, and Josh will be attending Hazard Community & Technical College. Josh even told me that he wants to obtain a law degree and help Kentucky families and children who may be facing situations similar to what he’s experienced. You can learn more about the scholarships and this year’s recipients here. We’ll also be announcing details on next year’s scholarship in the coming months.

    This week, my office, along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky and other federal agencies, announced a landmark health care fraud settlement with an Eastern Kentucky hospital. King’s Daughter Medical Center in Ashland, Ky., has agreed to pay the U.S. government nearly $41 million to resolve civil allegations that it made millions of dollars by falsely billing Medicare and Medicaid for heart procedures that were performed on patients who didn’t medically need them. My Medicaid fraud investigators participated in this investigation and are helping recover more than $1 million for our vital state Medicaid program. We take very seriously our obligation to hold accountable those who put profits ahead of patient care, and I’m proud that our Medicaid Fraud Unit has been recognized as one of the most aggressive in the country. Additional information about the settlement is available here.

    Next week, I’ll be attending the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) annual Summer Meeting. While there, I’ll be joining many of my fellow attorneys general from across the country to discuss key issues affecting our states, including prescription drug abuse. I’m looking forward to moderating a session on exploring and identifying best practices for prescription drug monitoring programs. Additionally, my office will be sharing with the attendees a presentation about our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program, which already serves as a national model and is being duplicated by attorneys general in other states.

  • May 23

    Earlier this year, I announced that $32 million secured by my office through two pharmaceutical settlements would be used to expand substance abuse treatment across Kentucky. Nationally, prescription painkillers are the number one cause of accidental death in the United States, and heroin is rapidly becoming the drug of choice in many parts of Kentucky. I’ve always said that in order to break the cycle of addiction, we must invest in both treatment and education, and this week I was proud to announce that $1.5 million from the settlements is being awarded to the University of Kentucky (UK) over two years to develop a comprehensive plan for the prevention and treatment of adolescent substance abuse.

    The funding will be used to create and implement a program called "UK Kentucky Kids Recovery," and the program will address every stage in the continuum of adolescent substance abuse. When I travel across Kentucky educating middle and high school students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse through our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program, I always ask a question: "How many of you have ever abused prescriptions drugs or know someone who’s abused prescription drugs?" No matter if I’m in Eastern Kentucky, Western Kentucky, Louisville or Lexington, almost every hand in the room goes up. UK Kentucky Kids Recovery will allow us to explore all of the resources available to Kentuckians to fight this growing problem and ensure that the best practices for treating adolescents grappling with substance abuse are shared with clinicians and providers across the Commonwealth. I am very proud of this partnership with UK, and I believe this investment will help save lives in Kentucky. You can learn more about the UK Kentucky Kids Recovery program, as well as how the rest of our settlement funds are being utilized, here.

    On Tuesday, I was honored to be recognized as an "Affordable Housing Champion" at the Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises (FAHE) Spring Meeting. In 2012, my office joined with 48 other state attorneys general to negotiate the historic national mortgage foreclosure settlement. Kentucky’s share of the settlement totaled nearly $64 million. With that money, we’ve invested in projects that have helped prevent foreclosures and create affordable housing for Kentuckians, and we’ve helped communities across the Commonwealth that were left holding the bag to take care of vacant and abandoned properties. I am committed to fighting for Kentucky families and keeping the big banks honest. I hope you’ll check out our Facebook page to see photos from the event.

    Once again, our Election Fraud Hotline proved to be a useful tool during Kentucky’s primary on Tuesday. We received 205 calls from nearly 60 counties, and 49 of those calls involved allegations of vote buying/selling. Each complaint will be thoroughly reviewed and any that appear to be criminal in nature will be referred to the appropriate agency for further investigation. I’d like to thank the voters who utilized our Election Fraud Hotline to report irregularities, and I also appreciate the investigators, attorneys and staff members in my Departments of Criminal Investigations and Special Prosecutions who worked tirelessly during the primary to ensure a fair and honest election for all Kentuckians. For more results from our Election Fraud Hotline, please see our press release.

    On Thursday, former Northern Kentucky University (NKU) Athletic Director Scott Eaton was sentenced to 10 years in prison for stealing more than $300,000 from the university during a six-year period. Last month, Eaton pleaded guilty to theft by unlawful taking between $10,000 and $1 million, agreed to serve the maximum term of 10 years in prison, and pay full restitution to NKU. Eaton used his position to defraud and take advantage of the university at a time when higher education institutions are being asked to accomplish more with less. I appreciate the hard work of my investigators and prosecutors who brought this case to a successful close, and I’m pleased that Mr. Eaton is accepting responsibility for his actions and that his sentence includes restitution to NKU. Additional information about this case is available here.

    Finally, as you spend time with family and friends over the long Memorial Day weekend, please take a moment to remember and honor the military men and women who have lost their lives serving our nation. I hope you have a safe and enjoyable weekend.

  • May 16

    On Tuesday, I joined the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Attorneys General from North Carolina and Illinois in announcing a settlement that forces the operators of one of the most prolific pyramid schemes in North America to turn over $7.75 million to its former customers. The operators of Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing (FHTM), which was based in Lexington, Ky. and enrolled more than 350,000 consumers throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada in just its last four years, have also been banned from participating in multi-level marketing as a result of the settlement.

    This was a classic pyramid scheme in every sense of the word. The vast majority of people, more than 90 percent, who bought in to FHTM lost their money. Our lawsuit filed last year against FHTM alleged that the company lured people into its "network" with promises of big pay checks and dreams of becoming millionaires. However, our investigation showed what FHTM actually delivered was a massive alleged pyramid scheme that cost consumers millions of dollars.

    Unlike legitimate multi-level marketing programs, FHTM distributors had no incentive to sell products. For example, an FHTM representative received pennies in commission for selling a three-year, $43 per month home security system. Meanwhile, representatives who attained a certain level within the company could receive $100 for every new member they signed up. The emphasis on recruitment rather than sales made this a pyramid scheme. Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing promised big returns, but instead delivered big losses to thousands of families across the country. My office is working with the FTC to coordinate a restitution plan for consumers who invested hard-earned money in a company that left them empty handed in difficult economic times. You can learn additional information about the settlement here.

    Next week, investigators from my office will be patrolling precincts and polling places across the Commonwealth during Tuesday's Primary Election. We've been working closely with the Secretary of State's Office and other fellow members of the Kentucky Election Integrity Task Force to prevent vote fraud. As you head to the polls, remember you can help us in this effort by reporting any irregularities or possible election law violations to our Election Fraud Hotline at 800-328-VOTE (8683). The hotline is open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. (EST) on Election Day and available year-round. Working together, we can ensure a fair and honest election for all Kentuckians.

  • May 9

    After a long, unseasonably cold winter, spring has finally arrived in the Bluegrass State. And as many Kentuckians look forward to enjoying the new season’s sunshine and warmer temperatures, bogus home-improvement contractors will also be looking to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers during the spring and summer months.

    Protecting Kentuckians from home-improvement scams is the focus of my latest column. In recent years, home repair and construction complaints have ranked as high as third on the Top 10 Consumer Complaints List released annually by the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). Many of these scammers will hit an area, take the money, and run. They typically travel from out of town and visit neighborhoods, offering unsolicited bids to susceptible residents and making high-pressure sales pitches that sound too good to be true.

    Be sure to check out my column here to learn ways you can avoid becoming a victim of a home-improvement scam. As always, I urge consumers to report any incidents of possible fraud or shoddy construction work and repair using my Office of Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257. You may also file a consumer protection complaint with my office using our online form.

    I hope you’ll also take a moment to read about the latest updates from the Office of the Attorney General in our monthly newsletter, Kentucky General News. In it, you can learn about our efforts to assist students impacted by the closure of Mid-Continent University, my office’s investigation involving former Northern Kentucky University (NKU) Athletic Director Scott Eaton, and my recent visit to Goldsmith Elementary School in Louisville. Kentucky General News is available here.

    Finally, I had the opportunity last week to sit down with WLKY’s Steve Burgin to discuss the resurgence of heroin in Kentucky and what my office is doing to help combat the problem. You can watch Steve’s special report, "The Changing Face of Heroin," on WLKY.com.

  • May 2

    All eyes will be on Kentucky this weekend for the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby. This time of year is always a special one for me, and spending time on the backside at Churchill Downs earlier this week reminded me of how wonderful it is to be a Kentuckian. I had the opportunity to catch up with many of the Louisville TV and radio stations covering Dawn at the Downs and share with them the latest news from the Office of the Attorney General. I also enjoyed visiting with radio stations from across Kentucky as part of the AT&T Morning Line event at the Derby Museum. Photos from both events are available on my Facebook page here.

    This year, my top pick for Derby is California Chrome. I’m also very excited to watch my father’s horse, General Jack, run in the 8th race on Derby Day.

    Elizabeth and I are looking forward to spending Kentucky Derby 140 with family and friends. Whether you head to the track or watch the race on television, we hope you have a safe and enjoyable weekend.

  • April 25

    Earlier this week, I traveled to Atlanta to attend the National Rx Drug Abuse Summit, an annual event organized by Operation UNITE. I joined hundreds of local, state and federal leaders from law enforcement and government agencies to share ideas on how we can best combat prescription drug abuse, especially here in our Commonwealth. I was also proud to discuss with attendees how my office has cracked down on unlawful prescription drug marketing in Kentucky. Since I was elected your Attorney General six years ago, my Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control has recovered or been awarded more than $260 million for the state and federal Medicaid programs as a result of lawsuits and settlements against pharmaceutical companies and individual providers. In January, I shared news of one of my proudest accomplishments when I announced that more than $32 million recovered by my office in settlements with two pharmaceutical companies would be invested in the Commonwealth to expand substance abuse treatment, including treatment for opiate addictions.

    Approximately $20 million from the settlement funds has been allocated for KY Kids Recovery, a grant program created to fund comprehensive juvenile substance abuse treatment programs, both expanding treatment beds at existing facilities and creating new juvenile treatment programs. The Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory Committee, which I chair, had another very productive public meeting this afternoon at the Capitol, and we are continuing to work closely with existing providers, new providers, community partnerships and non-profits across the Commonwealth to administer, and best utilize, the settlement funds. I am committed to fighting illegal drugs in our communities, and I firmly believe our efforts are paying dividends in the lives of our children and Kentucky families.

    This weekend you can help me in our fight against prescription drug abuse by emptying out your medicine cabinets and safely disposing of any unused, unwanted or expired prescription medications. Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, and prescription drug collection sites will be set up in local communities across the country. More than 70 collection sites have been designated in Kentucky as part of the initiative, which is designed to help prevent an increase in prescription drug abuse and theft. During a "Take-Back" day in October 2013, Kentuckians turned in more than 9,100 pounds of prescription drugs. These "Take-Back" events serve a critical role in making our communities safer by keeping potentially addictive and deadly prescription medications out of the wrong hands. The free service will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time, and you can search for a collection site near your community by clicking here.

    Next week, I’m looking forward to catching up with radio stations from across the state taking part in the Kentucky Derby Festival’s AT&T Morning Line at the Kentucky Derby Museum. I’ll also be sharing with Louisville TV and radio stations covering Dawn at the Downs the latest news from the Office of the Attorney General.

  • April 18

    Earlier this week, Mid-Continent University (MCU), a private, non-profit school operating in Mayfield, Ky., announced that it would begin laying off employees immediately and shutting down operations by the end of June. These recent developments have left many MCU students wondering what to do next, and I want students to know that my office is closely monitoring this situation. We are working with the Kentucky Council on Post Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education, and MCU’s accreditor to ensure that students are able to graduate or finish out the semester next month. My Office of Consumer Protection and I are committed to working with students who may have concerns about the transfer of their credits to other institutions, their legal rights, and student loans. We have set up the website www.ag.ky.gov/mcu, which will be updated with the latest information available for MCU students. Students may also call our hotline, 502-696-5485, or send an email to mcu@ag.ky.gov.

    In Campbell County on Thursday, I joined Northern Kentucky University (NKU) President Geoffrey Mearns to announce the guilty plea of former NKU Athletic Director Scott Eaton. Eaton was charged with theft by unlawful taking for stealing more than $311,000 from the university between January 2007 and March 2013. Eaton stole the funds by defrauding NKU using a variety of schemes, and his reckless behavior was selfish and inexcusable. As a result of the guilty plea, Eaton agreed to serve the maximum term of 10 years in prison and repay NKU every penny he stole. I commend President Mearns for immediately contacting my office about this issue. I am also very proud of the great work of my investigators and prosecutors who were able to bring this case to a successful close.

    Since 2010, I have traveled the state speaking to middle and high school students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and heroin. I’ve heard the heartbreaking stories of parents losing their sons and daughters to a drug overdose, and I’ve comforted children who have cried on my shoulder because they, too, have experienced firsthand the loss of a family member due to a drug addiction. Addiction is ripping Kentucky families apart, and we are doing everything we can in the Office of the Attorney General to prevent it. I am disappointed that Kentucky lawmakers, during this year’s legislative session, did not pass the bipartisan heroin legislation that I helped craft with Sen. Katie Stine and Rep. John Tilley. We must act to confront the reality of a growing heroin epidemic in our state. Lives are at stake, and this legislation would have given law enforcement and prosecutors the tools they need to help address this issue. Our efforts must be refocused to pass this legislation and expand treatment for opiate addiction to address the abuse of prescription painkillers and heroin.

    I was honored to speak at the Family & Children’s Place Building Brighter Futures Breakfast on Thursday morning. In Jefferson County alone, more than 11,000 children were involved in reports of suspected child abuse or neglect made to Child Protective Services in 2012. As your Attorney General, I’ve focused on putting people before politics, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and punishing those who wish to do our families harm. It is a privilege to work with members of the Family & Children’s Place to protect children from abuse and to help those heal who have suffered the trauma of abuse, violence, and neglect. Since I took office, we’ve awarded almost $150,000 in grants to the Family & Children’s Place. The grants are funded through our Child Victims’ Trust Fund and the Child Sexual Assault and Exploitation Prevention Board, which I chair. Our newly-designed website, ICareAboutKids.ky.gov, was created to make it easier for you to donate to the fund and to raise awareness about abuse and prevention. I hope you’ll visit the website to learn more about the programs that are truly making a difference in the lives of Kentucky children.

    This week my Office of Victims Advocacy and I hosted the 2014 Kentucky Victim Assistance Conference. This year’s conference celebrated 30 years of the Victims of Crime Act by focusing on assisting our most vulnerable and underserved victims. I am grateful for all of our victim advocates who work tirelessly every day assisting victims of crime and their families. My office remains committed to victim advocacy and to ensuring justice and healing for crime victims throughout the Commonwealth.

    It was also a pleasure to visit Goldsmith Elementary School on Monday to participate in the annual Real Men Read program. Real Men Read is an initiative that encourages students to read at an early age. I had the opportunity to read "Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson" to approximately 100 students at Goldsmith Elementary, and it was such a joy to see our children so eager to learn. The future of Kentucky looks very bright.

    Finally, Elizabeth and I want to wish you and your family a safe and joyous Easter. We hope you have a great weekend.

  • April 11

    On Thursday, my Office of Victims Advocacy (OVA) and I hosted the annual Crime Victims’ Rights Day Service and the Kentucky Homicide Memorial dedication of names at Resthaven Cemetery in Louisville. Nine names were added to the memorial this year, and I was incredibly moved by the strength and courage of the family members who attended. This annual service is such an important time to remember the victims of violent crimes and their families. My staff and I will continue working every day to ensure that the voices of Kentucky’s crime victims are heard.

    In 2013, my Office of Victims Advocacy provided resource referrals to more than 4,000 victims, victim advocates, and victim service providers. The OVA also trained more than 700 victim advocates, prosecutors, and law enforcement through various initiatives, including our Victims Assistance Conference, which is designed to alert advocates and others about pressing crime and violence issues. This year’s Victims Assistance Conference is being held next week in Lexington, and I’m looking forward to speaking with the many victim service providers and law enforcement officials who work tirelessly making our communities safer and ensuring justice and healing for crime victims.

    Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to discuss my concerns about the marketing practices of some for-profit colleges with Bloomberg TV. Some of these schools are using unfair business tactics that take advantage of students, leaving many with worthless degrees and enormous amounts of student-loan debt. As chair of the national working group of 32 state attorneys general who are reviewing these practices, I am committed to protecting our consumers here in Kentucky. You can watch my entire interview with Bloomberg TV here.

    I hope you will also take a moment to check out my monthly newsletter, Kentucky General News. The newsletter was just posted this week and highlights the great work my office accomplished in March. In it, you can read more about the newly-designed website created for the Child Victims’ Trust Fund, my efforts to overturn the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recent approval of an extremely potent painkiller called Zohydro, and my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe programs in Scott and Anderson counties. Kentucky General News is available here.

    This afternoon, I enjoyed attending the annual "They’re Off! Luncheon," the official kickoff of the Kentucky Derby Festival. This is one of my favorite times of year, and the Derby Festival team always does an outstanding job of making the weeks leading up to Derby such a special experience for Kentuckians.

    Finally, I’m looking forward to visiting Goldsmith Elementary School next week to participate in this year’s "Real Men Read" initiative during Louisville’s annual "Give a Day" week of service. I also encourage you to "give a day." Consider volunteering your time to a school, church, or non-profit group next week, and help make Kentucky an even better place to live, work, and raise all of our families.

  • April 4

    April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to recognize the important role that communities play in protecting our children. According to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, in 2012, an estimated 686,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect nationwide. Additionally, statistics show that most of these children were abused by someone they know and trust. In Kentucky, I am committed to ensuring that programs serving our most vulnerable children are funded.

    In March, I had the opportunity to unveil ICareAboutKids.ky.gov, a newly-designed website created for the Child Victims’ Trust Fund (CVTF). The CVTF provides necessary funding to regional and statewide child sexual abuse programs. As your Attorney General, I proudly serve as chair of the Child Sexual Abuse Exploitation Prevention (CSAEP) Board, which administers the CVTF.

    ICareAboutKids.ky.gov allows Kentuckians to support the CVTF with just a few clicks of the mouse. Your donation helps fund evidence-based programs that provide our children with personal safety skills, teach adults how to keep kids safe from sexual abuse and exploitation, and educate the public on how to report suspected child abuse, which Kentucky law requires. As the parent of two young daughters, I want to ensure that the public has access to this crucial information. The "I Care About Kids" website is the focus of my latest column, and I hope you take time this month to read it and also visit ICareAboutKids.ky.gov to learn more about how you can help us fund programs that are truly making a difference. My column is available online here.

    Today I met with fellow members of the Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory Committee during our public meeting held at the Capitol. We received a great response from community groups and treatment providers that submitted ideas on how to best utilize approximately $20 million allocated for juvenile substance abuse treatment grants through the KY Kids Recovery program. The grants will be used to help expand treatment beds at existing facilities across Kentucky and create new juvenile treatment programs. The committee is currently reviewing the submissions and will invite the best responses to submit a second formal proposal. Additional information on KY Kids Recovery is available here.

    Earlier this week, I was invited to teach a class at my alma mater’s Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. It was such an honor to receive the invitation. I enjoyed speaking with a group of very bright and talented students about current issues involving civil rights and social change.

    Finally, I want to wish the University of Kentucky Wildcats good luck as they prepare to take on Wisconsin during Saturday night’s Final Four matchup in Dallas. Let’s bring another national title back to the Commonwealth!

  • March 28

    Earlier this week I joined five other state attorneys general in calling on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to overturn the recent approval of Zohydro ER, a pure hydrocodone pill reported to be five to 10 times more potent than products currently available on the market, such as Vicodin or Lortab. In October, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Zohydro against the recommendation of its advisory panel, which voted 11-2 in opposition because of the drug’s high potential for misuse and its lack of an abuse-deterrent formulation. The FDA’s decision to approve Zohydro does not make sense. Unlike extended-release opioids containing abuse-deterrent properties, there is nothing that would prevent someone from easily crushing or injecting the drug to get high. For decades, we have fought the disastrous effects of the illegal marketing of the drug OxyContin in Kentucky, and I do not want to see the great strides we have made combating prescription drug abuse reversed. You can read a copy of the letter that my fellow attorneys general and I sent to Sec. Kathleen Sebelius here.

    Our efforts in Kentucky to prevent prescription drug abuse are making a difference. For the first time, the state is below the national average for prescription drug abuse. Additionally, the percentage of Kentucky teens misusing prescriptions drugs has dropped dramatically over the past four years. While these statistics are encouraging, I remain committed to curbing the cycle of addiction that continues to plague our Commonwealth. On Tuesday, I was thrilled to visit schools in Scott and Anderson counties to speak with students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and heroin. Joined by Van Ingram, the executive director for the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, and Mike Donta, a concerned parent who lost his son after a long battle with prescription drug addition, we shared our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe message with approximately 1,650 students at the Scott County Ninth Grade School and Anderson County High School. They were two great groups of kids, and I appreciate Principals Dwayne Ellison and Chris Glass for allowing us to visit. Tapings from our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe programs are available on my YouTube channel here. Don’t forget to click "Subscribe" to get the latest videos from our office.

    Kentucky is reported as having the third-highest rate of fatal overdoses in the country -- the vast majority from prescription pills. However, heroin is becoming the drug of choice across Kentucky, affecting our largest cities and our smallest communities. On Wednesday, I testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee regarding Senate Bill 5. The bipartisan legislation, which I helped craft with Sen. Katie Stine and Rep. John Tilley, is designed to address Kentucky’s growing heroin problem. Through September of 2013, our Commonwealth saw nearly 180 overdose deaths involving heroin. We are losing far too many people as a result of this dangerous and highly addictive drug. Senate Bill 5, which would stiffen penalties for drug traffickers and increase access to treatment for drug addicts, advanced out of committee this week, and I remain hopeful the full legislature will pass the bill by the end of this year’s legislative session.

    Finally, I enjoyed speaking to the Frankfort Rotary Club on Wednesday afternoon. I appreciate the Rotarians for inviting me to share the latest news from the Office of the Attorney General with them and talk about how we can all work together to move Kentucky forward. I’m also looking forward to a great Sweet 16 basketball game tonight between the Cards and the Cats! I am very proud of what these teams have accomplished this year, and I love when the players from both schools have the opportunity to share their talents with the rest of the country on the national stage. Good luck to both teams!

  • March 21

    This week I joined HuffPost Live to discuss the resurgence of heroin in Kentucky and my efforts to curb substance abuse across the Commonwealth. Heroin is rapidly becoming the drug of choice in many parts of Kentucky. It’s cheaper to get on the street than prescription drugs, which are often a gateway to heroin addiction. Additionally, heroin is also an opiate and it mimics the same high people get from crushing and injecting opioid painkillers. In 2012, heroin overdose deaths increased 650 percent in Kentucky, and I want you to know that we are doing all we can in the Office of the Attorney General to fight this problem.

    With concerned parents and state and law enforcement partners, I launched the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program in 2010. We visit Kentucky middle and high schools, sharing with students the dangers of prescription drug abuse and heroin. To date, my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners and I have reached approximately 40,000 students, teachers, and parents across the Commonwealth through this initiative. You can watch tapings from our previous school visits here.

    In December, I joined two Kentucky lawmakers in announcing legislation aimed at addressing the increase in heroin abuse and trafficking that our communities are seeing. We came together in a bipartisan fashion to tackle this issue head on, just like we’ve done in the past with prescription drugs and meth. The bill, which I helped craft and am supporting during the current legislative session, creates tougher penalties for high-volume traffickers. The legislation would also make it easier for first responders to access Naloxone to help prevent overdose deaths, and it would provide limited immunity from drug paraphernalia and possession charges for people who call 911 to report an overdose. You can watch my entire interview about this important issue with HuffPost Live here. Addiction is plaguing our Commonwealth, and I will continue working tirelessly to help stop this disturbing trend.

    I’m looking forward to taking our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program to Scott and Anderson counties next week. On Tuesday, I’ll be speaking with the students at Scott County Ninth Grade School and Anderson County High School. I appreciate the school leaders for supporting this initiative and allowing us to share our message with their students. Be sure to check out my Twitter and Facebook pages for updates throughout the day as I travel to both schools. You can also follow the Office of the Attorney General on Instagram.

    Finally, March Madness is in full swing, and the Commonwealth is being represented wonderfully this year in both the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments. Good luck to all of our Kentucky teams!

  • March 14

    I was proud to join Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller today to kick off the sixth annual “March Against Hunger” food drive in Louisville. Each year, Attorney General Zoeller and I challenge attorneys and law firms in both Louisville and southern Indiana to participate in the competition by donating food or money to the Dare to Care Food Bank. In 2013, 52 participating law groups helped raise more than 10,000 pounds of food and $55,455 in monetary donations. This great initiative helps put food on the tables of families in need across the region, and I encourage firms in Kentucky to get involved again this year. To learn more about participating in the competition, visit www.marchagainsthunger.org.

    General Zoeller and I also co-sponsored a letter that was sent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week supporting a proposed rule that calls for an update to generic drug labeling requirements. The FDA’s proposed rule would allow generic drug manufacturers to independently update their safety labeling information as soon as they become aware of a new safety risk. Currently, generic drug makers are prohibited from updating this information without such changes first being made by the product’s original developer. The proposed rule would greatly improve medication safety by ensuring that generic pharmaceutical companies are more closely monitoring their products and diligently alerting their consumers of any new health risks associated with those products. I appreciate General Zoeller’s support on this issue as well as the 28 other state and territorial attorneys general who also signed the letter. You can read the letter here.

    It was a pleasure to join WKYT’s Bill Bryant this morning for a taping of Kentucky Newsmakers. It’s always great to catch up with Bill and share the latest news from the Office of the Attorney General. Look for our segment to air Sunday morning on WKYT. Earlier this week, I also had the opportunity to chat with Ryan Alessi on cn2’s Pure Politics. You can watch that interview here.

    Finally, be sure to check out the latest edition of our monthly newsletter, Kentucky General News. The newsletter highlights all of the great work my office accomplished during the month of February. In it, you can read more about my visit to King Middle School, my commitment to keeping the for-profit college industry honest, and the upcoming deadline to submit ideas for the KY Kids Recovery grant program. Kentucky General News is available here.

  • March 7

    Earlier this week, I announced that I would not appeal U.S. District Judge John Heyburn’s recent ruling requiring Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states. As your Attorney General, I took an oath to defend and uphold both the Constitution of this Commonwealth and the Constitution of the United States. The U.S. Constitution is designed to protect everyone’s rights, both the majority and the minority groups.

    From a constitutional perspective, Judge Heyburn got it right. By defending this case, I came to the conclusion that I would be defending discrimination. That is something I simply will not do. My decision is one I feel very strongly about, and it is a decision that I can be proud of. In the end, this is about putting people over politics, and I am confident I am on the right side of history. To view my full statement regarding my decision, visit my YouTube page.

    On Wednesday, I joined thousands of Kentuckians on Capitol Avenue to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic Civil Rights March on Frankfort. I’m so proud of how far we’ve come over the past 50 years on this issue. Still, we must continue our fight for equal justice under the law. Photos from the event are available on my Facebook page.

    I also had the great opportunity this week to unveil ICareAboutKids.ky.gov, a newly designed website created for the Child Victims’ Trust Fund. The CVTF provides necessary funding to regional and statewide child sexual abuse prevention programs. The user-friendly website puts critical resources at users’ fingertips, and it allows Kentuckians to support the fund with just a few clicks of the mouse. Statistics show that 1 in 10 children in the U.S. will be sexually abused before they turn 18. By increasing awareness about the CVTF through the I Care About Kids website, we can better educate Kentuckians about this serious issue. I encourage you to visit ICareAboutKids.ky.gov to learn more about how you can help us fund programs that are truly making a difference. Kentucky children are at risk and prevention is the key to keeping them safe.

    Finally, stopping the cycle of addiction that is plaguing our Commonwealth is the focus of my latest column. The Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory Committee, which I chair, is currently accepting proposals on how to best utilize approximately $20 million allocated for KY Kids Recovery, a grant program that will fund comprehensive juvenile substance abuse treatment programs. Existing providers, new providers, community partnerships and non-profits across the Commonwealth are eligible to submit ideas, and the deadline to do is March 31. Please spread the word about KY Kids Recovery and help me fight substance abuse in our communities. Visit kykidsrecovery.ky.gov to learn more about the grant program and to download the Request for Information.

  • February 28

    I was honored to join Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray and several of my fellow state attorneys general at a press conference held earlier this week in Washington, D.C. to announce legal action against ITT, a for-profit college chain accused of predatory student lending. The CFPB alleges that ITT exploited its students and pushed them into high-cost private student loans that were very likely to end in default. As chair of the national working group of 32 state attorneys general who are reviewing the practices of some for-profit colleges, protecting our students is an issue I care very deeply about. There are some schools within the for-profit college industry that are more interested in getting their hands on federal student loan dollars than in educating students. To date, I have filed lawsuits against four for-profit schools, and I remain committed to keeping the for-profit college industry honest. You can watch a recording of the press conference hosted by the CFPB here.

    On Thursday, I traveled to King Middle School in Mercer County with Mike Donta to share our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe message with the students there. Mike’s son died in 2010 after a long battle with prescription drug addiction, and his story is a powerful one. Mike is dedicated to warning kids across our Commonwealth about the dangers of abusing drugs, and I am thankful for his contributions to the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe initiative. I am also appreciative of our educators, including King Middle School Principal Terry Gordon and his staff at Mercer County Schools, who support our efforts and allow us to speak to their students. Be sure to check out photos from the program on our Facebook page here.

    This afternoon, I had a great conversation with fellow members of the Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory Committee during our public meeting held at the Capitol. It was also wonderful to chat with several representatives from various treatment providers in Kentucky who attended our meeting. Currently, the committee is accepting proposals on how to best utilize approximately $20 million allocated for KY Kids Recovery, a juvenile substance abuse treatment grant program established in January. For more information about the program and the Request for Information process, please visit kykidsrecovery.ky.gov.

    Next week, my office will be unveiling ICareAboutKids.ky.gov, a newly designed website created to benefit the Child Victims’ Trust Fund. The CVTF has provided funding for child sexual abuse prevention programs since 1985. The updated website will provide resources for child abuse prevention and help promote the CVTF, and I’m eager for everyone to see it. Check back for more details on this initiative Wednesday.

    On Monday, I’ll be catching up with my radio friends at WLGC in Ashland, WKDZ in Cadiz, WBVR in Bowling Green, and WTTL in Madisonville. I always enjoy calling the stations and sharing the latest news from my office with listeners. I hope you’ll tune in if you live in one of those areas.

  • February 21

    We had a great crowd attend a question and answer session held earlier this week for organizations interested in learning more about KY Kids Recovery. KY Kids Recovery is a juvenile substance abuse treatment grant program that was created after my office settled cases against two pharmaceutical companies for $32 million. Existing providers, new providers, community partnerships and non-profits are eligible to apply for the grants, and it was wonderful to see so many people attend Tuesday's Q & A session. Addiction is destroying families across our Commonwealth, and the strong turnout at the event truly signifies the need for expanded treatment options in Kentucky. The deadline to submit a grant proposal is now just one month away. The Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory Committee, which I chair, will review the submissions and invite the best responses to submit a second formal proposal. You can view additional information about the grant program and download the KY Kids Recovery Request for Information here.

    Next week, I'll be traveling to Washington, D.C. for the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) annual Winter Meeting. I will be joining attorneys general from across the country to discuss a variety of issues that are important to our communities, including consumer financial protection and cybersafety. Additionally, as co-chair of the NAAG Substance Abuse Committee, serving alongside Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, I'm looking forward to sharing information with attendees about how my office is working to fight substance abuse in Kentucky.

    Educating our kids about the dangers of abusing drugs, particularly prescription painkillers, is an initiative that I continue to make a top priority. Next Thursday, I'll be in Mercer County speaking to the students at King Middle School as part of our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program. We're losing more people to overdoses than traffic accidents in Kentucky, and we must focus on treatment and education if we're going to stop this disturbing trend. Since 2010, my Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners and I have shared our drug abuse prevention message with approximately 40,000 students, teachers and parents, and I appreciate Principal Gordon allowing us the opportunity to visit with his students next week. Be sure to check out our Facebook page and YouTube channel for pictures and videos from the event.

  • February 14

    Organizations interested in learning more about applying for our KY Kids Recovery grants will have the opportunity to attend a question and answer session in the Capitol Annex on Tuesday. Existing providers, new providers, community partnerships, and non-profits may apply for the grants, which will fund comprehensive juvenile substance abuse treatment programs across the Commonwealth. This is an excellent opportunity for entities to gather additional information about the KY Kids Recovery program and the qualifications for submitting applications. Details on the Q & A session can be found at ag.ky.gov/kykidsrecovery. I encourage you to help spread the word about this important initiative and help me fight substance abuse in Kentucky.

    While you’re visiting ag.ky.gov/kykidsrecovery, please take a moment to watch and share the public service announcement that Gov. Beshear and I recently taped for the KY Kids Recovery program. The PSA serves as a call-to-action urging organizations to submit applications for the grants. It also highlights the $32 million settlement my office secured to make this grant program possible. In addition to the website, the PSA is available on the Office of the Attorney General’s YouTube channel here. I hope you’ll take a moment to check out the YouTube channel and consider clicking "Subscribe" on the right side of the page to stay updated with all of the videos my office produces and posts online.

    Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to update the Kentucky House Budget Review Subcommittee on the top priorities and ongoing initiatives in the Office of the Attorney General. I often say that I have the best staff in state government and, despite unprecedented budget cuts, our many accomplishments for Kentucky families and communities are a testament to their commitment to public service and this Commonwealth.

    You can read more about those accomplishments in our newsletter, Kentucky General News. The newsletter was just posted online this week and features stories about my recent visit to Campbell County High School, our efforts to protect consumers from a Kentucky propane provider, and more. The newsletter can be found here.

    On Wednesday, I enjoyed meeting with members of the Leadership Barren County Class. We talked about issues affecting communities across our Commonwealth and how we can work together to move Kentucky forward. I also appreciate Commonwealth's Attorney John Gardner organizing the trip and making my office a stop on the group's schedule.

    Finally, Monday is Presidents’ Day. Let us take time to celebrate all of our U.S. presidents past and present and remember the efforts of leaders such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, who worked tirelessly serving this great nation.

  • February 7

    It’s been a busy week in the Office of the Attorney General! On Thursday, I had the wonderful opportunity to tour Chrysalis House, a facility in Lexington, Ky. that provides substance abuse treatment for pregnant women. Chrysalis House is receiving $600,000 over two years from settlements I secured from two pharmaceutical companies. You can read more about the settlements here. This money is allowing the facility to continue operating and providing treatment to 200 women and children each year. I am so proud of the women who are seeking treatment at Chrysalis House and working hard to break the cycle of addiction.

    The settlement funds are being administered by the Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory Committee, which Gov. Steve Beshear created by executive order. As chair of the committee, I was honored to brief members of the Recovery Kentucky Task Force this week about the money and how it will continue to help expand access to substance abuse treatment throughout Kentucky.

    Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America, and protecting yourself from identity thieves is the focus of my latest monthly column. Thieves are able to find your information in your trash, your mailbox, and on the Internet, where they will use phony email schemes or data security breaches to steal your identity. The latter recently happened to shoppers at several U.S. retailers including Target, Neiman Marcus, and Michaels.

    In fact, consumers across the country learned that, during the peak of the holiday shopping season last year, hackers carried out one of the biggest retail cyberattacks in history on Target. Roughly 40 million credit and debit card records were stolen, and the personal information of 70 million Target shoppers was compromised. Fortunately, Target has taken steps to alleviate the concerns of customers and provide some peace of mind. You can learn more about the retailer’s efforts, as well as the tips that my Office of Consumer Protection and I have put together to help keep you safe from identity thieves, in my column here.

    I also had the chance to share this important consumer information with radio listeners in the Lexington area this week. It was great catching up with Lee Cruse on WVLK, and I appreciate him having me on his show. On Monday, I’ll be discussing the recent news from my office with WKDZ in Cadiz and WAIN in Columbia.

    On Thursday, I had a nice visit with members of this year’s Leadership Northern Kentucky class. Among the many topics, we discussed the legislation I’m supporting to help fight the resurgence of heroin. I also enjoyed speaking with county judges from across the Commonwealth at the Kentucky County Judge Executives Association Winter Conference and sharing my vision of how we can work together to move our state forward.

    Next week, my office will be unveiling a newly designed website and PSA campaign created to benefit the Child Victims’ Trust Fund, which provides funding to regional and statewide child sexual abuse prevention programs. Look for more details on both of these great initiatives in the coming days.

  • January 31

    On Tuesday, I filed a complaint in Franklin Circuit Court against Kentucky propane provider United Propane Gas, Inc. (UPG) for its alleged violations of the state's Consumer Protection Act. The complaint follows many phone calls to my office from farmers and residential UPG customers in Western Kentucky who, during the recent frigid weather conditions that our state has experienced, were exhausting their propane supplies. The customers became frustrated when they couldn't reach a UPG representative by phone or secure a waiver from the company, as Kentucky law requires, to get more propane from another supplier.

    My office worked with UPG to obtain a blanket waiver for its customers; however, when that waiver expired early Tuesday morning, UPG refused to extend it through early February despite our demands to do so considering the frigid temperatures and the company's lack of supply. Therefore, along with our complaint against UPG, we asked for, and were granted, a court order allowing customers of UPG and its 23 subsidiaries to secure propane from another supplier without a waiver until Feb. 3.

    While there has been a propane shortage nationwide, companies still have a responsibility to take care of their customers who need access to propane to heat their homes and run their businesses. Most companies in Kentucky, despite shortages, are working with customers to make partial deliveries or provide waivers. Unfortunately, this has not been the case for UPG.

    Customers who are unable to reach their supplier, obtain a release or obtain supply from another supplier should contact my office at rateintervention@ag.ky.gov or call the Propane Supply Complaint Hotline at 1-866-592-2556.

    The Capitol has been bustling this week with a number of school groups from across Kentucky interested in learning more about the inner workings of state government. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with students from Highlands Latin School on Wednesday. I also had a great discussion with a bright group of students from the University of Louisville Student Government's Cards in Action program about the importance of advocacy and higher education. I always enjoy meeting with young people who are passionate about education and public service. Pictures from both visits can be found on my Facebook page here.

    On Tuesday morning, I’ll be catching up with my radio friends at WLGC in Ashland, WBVR in Bowling Green, and WTTL in Madisonville. I hope you’ll tune in if you’re in those areas.

    Finally, please join Elizabeth and me in keeping the families of the nine victims who died in the horrific house fire in Muhlenberg County on Thursday in your thoughts and prayers. This tragedy took the lives of a mother and her eight young children, and it's important to remember their loved ones and community during this difficult time.

  • January 24

    I had a great opportunity this week to tape a public service announcement for the Child Victims’ Trust Fund (CVTF). The CVTF is a non-profit program that has provided funding for child sexual abuse prevention programs since 1985. You can help support the program through the Kentucky Income Tax Refund Check-Off campaign. Located in the "Fund Contributions" section of the Kentucky income tax form, the tax refund check-off allows Kentuckians to make a donation to the fund. You can also help by purchasing an "I Care About Kids" license plate. The Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention Board, which I chair, sponsors the specialty license plates, and the sale of the plates generates revenue for the CVTF. I hope you will consider making a donation to the fund this year. Your contribution goes a long way to ensure that the programs benefiting Kentucky’s most vulnerable children are funded. Also, be sure to watch for our PSA highlighting the importance of the CVTF, which will begin airing on TV stations across Kentucky very soon.

    The Child Victims’ Trust Fund PSA will also be posted on the Office of the Attorney General’s official YouTube channel, which you can visit here. On the website you’ll find press conferences, tapings from our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program, the "Faces of Prescription Drug Abuse" series and additional videos that reflect my commitment to standing up for Kentucky families. While you’re visiting the website, be sure to click the "Subscribe" box to stay up to date with all of the great work that continues in my office.

    Next week, I’ll be attending the Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory Committee’s second public meeting. I’m looking forward to another great discussion on how we can use the funding my office secured from two pharmaceutical lawsuits to best provide treatment to those living in our Commonwealth who so desperately need it.

    Finally, I hope everyone is keeping warm during this frigid weather. If you have to be outside in the cold, please take the proper precautions to stay safe. Help is also available for those experiencing hardship and needing assistance paying high heating bills. Visit the "Winter Heating" section of my website here to learn more.

  • January 17

    I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Northern Kentucky on Thursday to share our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe message with the juniors and seniors at Campbell County High School. I want to thank Superintendent Glen Miller and Principal Renee Boots for allowing us to visit. Additionally, I appreciate the many community leaders and law enforcement officials who took time out of their busy schedules to attend the afternoon program. They joined me because they are concerned about substance abuse in our Commonwealth, and they are committed to battling this problem in their communities.

    If you’re unfamiliar with our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program, I hope you’ll take the time to read the article that The Kentucky Enquirer’s Dave Malaska wrote following Thursday’s presentation. You can find it here. Prescription drug and heroin addictions are plaguing our state, and we’re not going to incarcerate our way out of this problem. My hope is that by educating our children, we can stop this disturbing trend.

    While in Northern Kentucky, I also met with area judges-executive and the Heroin Impact and Response Work Group to discuss ways to deal with this critical issue. When I announced this month that $32 million in settlement funds recovered by my office from two pharmaceutical companies would go toward expanding substance abuse treatment, I pledged that some of the money would be used in Northern Kentucky. I firmly believe that if we’re going to stop the cycle of addiction, we must increase access to treatment.

    Overseeing the settlement funding is the Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory Committee, which I chair. Fellow members and I had a very productive conversation this morning during our first public meeting. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on future developments.

    Finally, I want to wish a very happy 72nd birthday to Muhammad Ali today. Muhammad is not only one of my heroes, he is a great friend.

     

  • 2014

  • January 10

    Earlier this week, my staff and I shared news of one of our proudest accomplishments since I was elected your Attorney General six years ago. I was thrilled to join Gov. Beshear, First Lady Beshear and House Speaker Stumbo on Monday as we announced that more than $32 million recovered by my office in settlements with two pharmaceutical companies will be used throughout Kentucky to expand substance abuse treatment, including opiate addictions.

    Stopping prescription drug abuse is one of my top priorities. I created Kentucky’s first statewide prescription drug abuse task force and helped craft landmark legislation that has shut down half of this state’s pain clinics. Still, we can’t arrest our way out of this problem. We must invest in education and treatment in order to stop the cycle of addiction that is plaguing our Commonwealth.

    According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Kentucky currently only has one-tenth of the treatment beds it needs. The funds from these settlements will help create a new treatment center for adults, treatment scholarships, a grant program for new juvenile treatment beds and/or centers, and expanded services for juveniles. This is a dream I’ve had for six years, and I’m so thankful it is now a reality. I firmly believe this historic investment will save lives in Kentucky.

    It’s great to see all of our lawmakers back to work in Frankfort this week. The 2014 regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly gaveled in on Tuesday, and I’ll be supporting several pieces of proposed legislation, including bills that would protect consumers from identity theft and limit state financial aid dollars to some for-profit colleges, and legislation that would allow domestic violence laws to apply to couples who are dating. Additionally, last month, I was proud to join Sen. Katie Stine and Rep. John Tilley in announcing bipartisan legislation that addresses an increase in heroin abuse and trafficking in communities across the Commonwealth and how we can fight it. You can read more about the bill in this month’s newsletter, Kentucky General News. The newsletter was just posted online today and highlights some of the great work my office accomplished in December.

    Next week, I’ll be visiting Campbell County High School to share our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe message with the juniors and seniors there. I always look forward to speaking with our students across the Commonwealth, encouraging them not to be the next generation lost to prescription pill abuse.

  • January 3

    I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday season. I am energized as we begin a new year of great work in the Office of the Attorney General, and I am so proud of what we have accomplished since I took office six years ago. My staff spent the past several months preparing our 2013 Biennial Report, which was delivered to Governor Beshear and members of the General Assembly earlier this week. The report, which can be found here, showcases the hard work and dedication from all us in the Office of the Attorney General as we strive to serve the citizens of this great Commonwealth to the best of our abilities.

    During this biennium, we continued our investigation into the questionable business practices of some of Kentucky's for-profit colleges, filing lawsuits against Daymar, National and Spencerian colleges. My Cybercrimes Unit seized more than 122,000 child porn images and videos from the Internet, and investigators from my Drug Investigations Branch targeted a myriad of unethical physicians who have diverted pharmaceutical drugs to the illicit market. Additionally, my office's Medicaid Fraud Unit successfully litigated and returned the Purdue Pharma case to Pike County, the epicenter of the prescription pill epidemic in the Commonwealth, and the nonprofit watchdog group Public Citizen named the Medicaid Fraud Unit one of the most aggressive in the country.

    Creating two scholarships for students who have been affected by prescription drug abuse is also one of our many accomplishments from 2013, and the deadline to apply is quickly approaching. The scholarships are in memory of 19-year-old Sarah Shay and 24-year-old Michael Donta. Shay, of Morehead, Ky., died of a prescription drug overdose in 2006. Donta, of Ashland, Ky., lost his battle with prescription painkiller abuse in 2010. Sarah's mother and Michael's father now travel with me across Kentucky to help warn middle and high school students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse through our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program. The scholarships, which are $1500 each, will help two seniors get a fresh start and a chance at completing their college education. Students should submit their scholarship applications to the Office of the Attorney General by January 15. You can learn additional details about the scholarships here

    Next week, we'll being taking our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe message to Scott County Ninth Grade School for our first program of 2014. So far, we reached more than 30,000 students, teachers and parents with the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program since we began this initiative in late 2010, and I'm looking forward to visiting many more schools across Kentucky this year.

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