Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, 37 Attorneys General Join in Support of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015

September 29, 2015
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

LOS ANGELES - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and 37 other state attorneys general today sent a letter to Congress in support of proposed legislation, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 (S.524/H.R.953), to increase prevention and treatment of heroin and opioid abuse. 

“Drug addiction hurts individual lives, families and communities, posing serious risks to public safety and public health,” said Attorney General Kamala D. Harris.  “Being smart on crime requires a comprehensive response to addiction, including data-driven prevention, education and drug treatment programs.”

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act will create new evidence-based treatment and intervention programs, increase resources available to first responders and law enforcement to reverse overdoses and save lives, and create more disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications.

The proposed federal legislation would also strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services.  The California Department of Justice recently launched a 2.0 version of California’s prescription drug database, Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES), which features a variety of performance improvements and added functionality.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdoses are the leading cause of injury-related death for Americans aged 25 to 64.

A copy of the letter from 38 attorneys general, including Attorney General Harris, is attached to the online version of this release at www.oag.ca.gov/news.

PDF icon Final Letter- CARA 2015.pdf503.36 KB

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Proposed Changes to Proposition 65 Regulations to Reduce Abuses and Increase Accountability

Attorney General Harris Invites Public Input During 45-Day Comment Period
September 28, 2015
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SAN FRANCISCO - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced changes to regulations implementing Proposition 65, the landmark law requiring businesses to provide warnings if they expose individuals to any listed carcinogens or reproductive toxins.    

The proposed amended regulations are the product of nearly five years of analysis and have been drafted in consultation with business and environmental groups.  They are intended to protect public health and the environment while helping to stem abuse of the law’s mechanism to allow for enforcement by private parties.  The amendments mark the first substantial change to the Attorney General’s Proposition 65 regulations since their adoption in 2001-2003. The 45-day public comment period is open until November 9.

“California has led the nation for decades in protecting our residents and the environment from pollutants and toxic chemicals,” said Attorney General Harris.  “These proposed changes maintain the intent of Proposition 65 and our vital legacy of public health and environmental protections while eliminating incentives to abuse the system.  Good public policy means rejecting the false choice that suggests we must sacrifice our commitment to the environment and public health for California businesses to thrive.”

In 1986, California voters approved the initiative to address their growing concerns about exposure to toxic chemicals. These regulatory changes will help restore public confidence that Proposition 65 is used for its proper health-protective purposes and not abused for private gain.  The proposed amendments focus on increased transparency and accountability to ensure that civil penalties in litigation brought by private enforcers under Proposition 65 are used for purposes that are clearly defined, relevant to the violations which prompted the settlement, and beneficial to Californians. 

The proposed regulations would also increase accountability by capping “in lieu of penalties” payments to ensure that the Office of Environment Health Hazard Assessment receives revenues necessary to continue its work of implementing Proposition 65 and protecting public health, as intended by the statute.  The proposed changes also raise the bar for demonstrating that settlements requiring reformulation confer a significant public benefit, instead making individual cases fact-specific and stating that payments under a settlement “may” confer public benefit.

For information on submitting public comments, click here.

Attorney General Harris has a long history of taking action to protect the health and well-being of California communities.  She has filed lawsuits to enforce Proposition 65 and other environmental laws, protecting local communities from diesel emissions, hazardous electronic waste, and other harmful pollutants.  She has also supported the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants and led a coalition of states in intervening to defend the EPA from attacks and legal challenges.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Applauds New Law to Increase Commercial Charitable Fundraiser Transparency and Accountability

September 21, 2015
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris released the following statement today in response to Governor Jerry Brown’s signing of Assembly Bill 556, legislation authored by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) and sponsored by Attorney General Harris that will help increase consumer confidence in charitable giving.

“I applaud Governor Brown for signing AB 556, our legislation to increase transparency and accountability in charitable fundraising,” said Attorney General Harris. “This law empowers Californians to donate wisely by providing clear information about how charities use their donations. I thank Assemblymember Irwin for introducing the legislation and for her leadership on this important issue.”

AB 556 closes loopholes in disclosure laws for paid commercial fundraising campaigns by modifying the definition of “commercial fundraiser” to include fundraising counsel that use deceptive tricks to evade registration and fundraising transparency requirements. Fundraising campaigns involving these for-profit companies will now have to disclose whether a portion of donor contributions will be directed to the paid fundraiser.  The bill also expands the existing 10-year statute of limitations for charitable enforcement cases to include for-profit fundraising firms and other third parties who engage in misconduct, extending the window of time to investigate and prosecute violations of charitable law by for-profit fundraisers.

“I’m pleased that Governor Brown signed AB 556, a collaborative effort with Attorney General Kamala Harris to increase transparency in charitable donations,” said Assemblymember Irwin. “This bill will support consumer confidence for the more than 70,000 active nonprofit organizations doing great work in California.”

The bill was supported by a diverse coalition of nonprofits operating in California and received unanimous support in both the Assembly and the Senate.

Attorney General Harris’ office recently released a report summarizing the results of charitable solicitation campaigns conducted by commercial fundraisers in 2013, which found that commercial fundraisers collected approximately $361.5 million in charitable contributions in 2013, an increase of $67.2 million over the amount reported in 2012. Read the report here: https://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/charities/publications/2013cfr/cfr2013.pdf.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Applauds New Cyber Exploitation Law

September 10, 2015
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today issued a statement applauding Governor Jerry Brown’s signature of Senate Bill 676 (Cannella, R-Ceres), which she sponsored.

“Cyber exploitation is an insidious crime that is used to humiliate, degrade, and financially exploit innocent people,” said Attorney General Harris. “SB 676 will restore dignity to victims by providing California law enforcement with a powerful tool to seize and destroy cyber exploitation images and prevent future distribution. I commend Senator Cannella for authoring this important legislation and thank Governor Brown for signing it into law.”

“As technology evolves, unfortunately, so does the rate of cyber-crimes such as cyber exploitation,” said Senator Cannella. “I appreciate the work of Attorney General Harris in prosecuting those who commit these crimes and am glad that Governor Brown signed SB 676 into law to provide stronger protection to victims."

In April, Attorney General Harris announced an 18-year sentence for cyber exploitation operator Kevin Bollaert. This case was the first successful prosecution in the country of an operator of a cyber exploitation website. Bollaert operated ugotposted.com, which allowed the anonymous, public posting of private photographs containing nude and explicit images of individuals without their permission.

In addition to SB 676, Attorney General Harris is also sponsoring AB 1310 (Gatto, D-Glendale), which would allow search warrants to be issued for crimes related to cyber exploitation and allow for the prosecution of cyber exploitation cases in the county where the victim resides or in the county where the images were posted.

Attorney General Harris has convened a working group of 50 major technology companies, victim advocates, and legislative and law enforcement leaders to fight cyber exploitation through a public-private partnership. Specifically, the Attorney General’s working group on cyber exploitation is focused on four key areas: developing an industry statement of principles, education and prevention, law enforcement training and collaboration, and legislation and advocacy. The working group includes major tech companies such as Microsoft, Twitter, Google, Facebook, and Instagram.

Attorney General Harris created the eCrime Unit in 2011 to identify and prosecute identity theft crimes, cybercrimes, and other crimes involving the use of technology.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Support for Senator Mark Leno’s Bill to Protect Children From E-Cigarettes

August 27, 2015
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced her support for SBX2 5, legislation authored by Senator Mark Leno to protect children and youth from the harmful effects of electronic cigarettes.  The bill ensures that e-cigarettes are included in existing laws that prevent underage smoking and mandate smoke-free spaces by explicitly defining them as “tobacco products,” in addition to requiring child-resistant packaging.

“Protecting children from a life of nicotine addiction is essential to good public health and smart fiscal policy,” said Attorney General Harris.  “I thank Senator Leno for his leadership on this issue and urge the Legislature to approve this important legislation.”

SBX2 5 will include e-cigarettes in California’s Smoke-Free Act, which prohibits smoking at workplaces, schools, daycares, restaurants, bars, hospitals and on public transportation. The legislation will also make sure e-cigarettes are covered under the 1994 Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement (STAKE) Act, which has successfully reduced illegal sales of cigarettes to children.  Tobacco use in California is responsible for $13.29 billion in health costs each year.

Attorney General Harris earlier this year launched a first-of-its-kind Bureau of Children’s Justice, with the aim of bringing together the California Department of Justice’s criminal and civil law enforcement tools to hold those who prey on children accountable, help shape and implement policies that help children, and work with a range of stakeholders to better support kids.  More info on the Bureau is available here: https://oag.ca.gov/bcj.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Support for Senator Wieckowski’s Economic Equity and Financial Stability Legislative Package

August 26, 2015
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced her support for State Senator Bob Wieckowski’s Economic Equity and Financial Stability Initiative, a three-bill package to protect consumers from abusive debt buyer practices and help struggling Californians manage their personal debt and gain a fresh financial start.

“This legislation will help many Californians manage their debt without being abused,” said Attorney General Harris. “Low-wage earners fighting to pay down debt are often harmed by abusive debt collection practices that keep them from reaching financial stability. This legislation will offer consumers a path to getting their finances back on track and give them the tools to fight back against predatory practices.”

The initiative consists of SB 308, SB 501, and SB 641:

  • SB 308 – Allows debtors to retain enough of their assets so that they can get back on their feet after a bankruptcy.
  • SB 501 – Establishes a tiered garnishment rate to lower the unjustly high percentage of income currently taken from low-income workers’ paychecks.
  • SB 641 – Provides low-income consumers with legal recourse to avoid being forced to pay off someone else’s debt or a debt they have already paid.

“Attorney General Harris is fearless when it comes to standing up to some of the abuses of banks and debt collectors, whose sloppy work and misconduct puts consumers in harm’s way and threatens their financial futures,” Wieckowski said. “She is a tireless fighter for consumers and I am proud to join countless working families throughout California in welcoming her support for this initiative.”

All three bills have passed the state Senate and SB 501 and SB 641 are on the Assembly floor.  SB 308 is currently in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  The bills enjoy a broad array of support from a diverse coalition of organizations ranging from AARP to labor to legal aid groups.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Releases Statement on Proposed Clean Energy Legislation

August 27, 2015
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris released the following statement on SB 350, the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015, and SB 32, Climate Pollution Reduction Beyond 2020:

“Today, millions of Californians enjoy cleaner air and water because of our state's longstanding efforts to improve our environment.  SB 350 and SB 32 build on this legacy by setting aggressive but achievable clean energy goals. These bills will ensure California continues to innovate smart solutions to climate change while growing our economy and improving public health.”

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Issues Statement on President Obama’s Clean Power Plan

August 3, 2015
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

LOS ANGELES – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today released the following statement in support of President Barack Obama’s America’s Clean Power Plan which will limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by fossil fuel-fired power plants.

“Power plants emit pollutants that contribute to climate change and, left unchecked, those pollutants harm our natural resources and pose a grave threat to public health,” said Attorney General Harris. “California is leading the world in curbing greenhouse gas emissions and pioneering clean and renewable energy.  The President’s clean power plan, combined with California’s green innovation, create a path for the nation to protect our environment for current and future generations.”

Attorney General Harris has fought to protect AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which has served as a global model for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. In 2014 and 2015, Attorney General Harris and a coalition of states intervened in cases filed in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to defend the EPA’s authority to propose rules limiting emissions of greenhouse gases from existing power plants.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Sponsors Cyber-Exploitation Legislation

March 2, 2015
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO –Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced a package of bills that will increase protections for victims and provide tools for law enforcement to prosecute the growing number of cyber-exploitation cases in California.

Cyber-exploitation, commonly known as revenge porn, is defined as the non-consensual distribution and publication of intimate photos and videos. The poster sometimes obtains the photos or videos during a prior relationship, or steals them by hacking into the victim’s phone, computer, or social media accounts.

“Cyber-exploitation is a heinous crime that humiliates and degrades victims, while creating devastating effects on their personal and professional lives,” said Attorney General Harris. “This legislation will provide law enforcement with tools to prosecute these crimes, and provide critical support to victims suffering from the debilitating impacts.” 

Senate Bill 676 (Cannella, R-Ceres) would classify the intentional distribution of personal identifying information associated with the image of an intimate body part, obtained without the consent of the person depicted, as a new crime under Penal Code 647. Additionally, SB 676 would expand the forfeiture provision for possession of child pornography to include the forfeiture of cyber-exploitation images, allowing law enforcement to remove these images from unauthorized possession.

"Several years ago, it was brought to my attention that countless lives were being destroyed because another person they trusted distributed compromising photos of them online. As a result, I created legislation that makes this activity illegal," said Cannella. "I quickly realized, however, there was much more to be done. As technology evolves, unfortunately, so does the rate of these cyber-crimes – increasing the number of victims impacted. And while I wish these types of crimes didn’t exist, SB 676 and AB 1310 will provide even more protection to victims."

Assembly Bill 1310 (Gatto, D-Glendale) would amend Penal Code 1524 to allow search warrants to be issued for crimes related to cyber-exploitation. Amending this statute will give law enforcement the ability to search electronic databases and retrieve the victims’ images. AB 1310 will also allow for the prosecution of cyber-exploitation cases in the county where the victim resides or in the county where the images was posted. Since posters and website operators commonly reside outside of the victim’s jurisdiction, this change in the law will relieve some of the burden placed on the victim during the prosecution of the case.

 “AB 1310 will make it more difficult for criminals to escape prosecution by allowing district attorneys and law enforcement to investigate and prosecute those who exploit their victims across multiple jurisdictions,” said Gatto.

In 2011, Attorney General Harris created the eCrime Unit to identify and prosecute identity theft crimes, cybercrimes and other crimes involving the use of technology. In February, a jury in San Diego County found Kevin Bollaert, the operator of a cyber-exploitation website, guilty of 6 counts of extortion and 21 counts of identity theft. He is currently awaiting sentencing. This was the first criminal prosecution of a cyber-exploitation website operator in the nation. 

In February 2014, Attorney General Harris announced the arrest of Casey E. Meyering, 28, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who operated the website WinByState.com. He is charged with 5 felony extortion counts and is currently awaiting trial in Napa County. Both cases arose from investigations by the California Attorney General’s eCrime unit.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin Announce Legislation to Improve Transparency and Accountability for Commercial Charitable Fundraisers

February 24, 2015
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO - Today, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) unveiled legislation aimed at maintaining consumer confidence in charitable giving.  The bill would close a loophole in disclosure requirements for paid commercial fundraising campaigns and include for-profit fundraising firms and other third parties who engage in misconduct in the Attorney General’s 10-year statute of limitations.

“Californians should have complete confidence that the donation they make to a charitable organization will go toward the cause they support, and feel secure knowing their gift won’t be diverted to the pockets of a third-party, for-profit fundraiser,” said Attorney General Harris.  “I thank Assemblymember Irwin for standing with me to increase transparency and empower Californians with the information they need to donate wisely.”

Assembly Bill 556 closes a loophole in existing charitable giving transparency requirements that currently allows third parties to solicit funds from donors without disclosing whether a portion of their gift will be diverted to a paid company by establishing their operations as “fundraising counsel” instead of “commercial fundraisers.”  Attorney General Harris’ office recently released a report summarizing the results of charitable solicitation campaigns conducted by commercial fundraisers in 2013, which reveals the alarming extent to which charitable donations are often diverted to for-profit companies.

For-profit third party fundraisers played a role in a recent charity enforcement case, People v. Help Hospitalized Veterans, where a charitable fraud scheme included directing nearly three-quarters of the gross revenue made to for-profit fundraising campaigns in which the charity’s “fundraising counsel” was not required to disclose in their direct mail pieces that a paid professional fundraiser was profiting from each donation.

In addition, because of a gap in the Government Code’s statute of limitations for charitable misconduct lawsuits, not all parties responsible for the fraud in the Help Hospitalized Veterans case were able to be held accountable.  AB 556 will expand the statute to include enforcement actions against commercial fundraisers, fundraising counsel, and other third party entities that aid and abet the exploitation of charitable assets.  This ten year window is often necessary in such cases, which are complex, fact-intensive, and cover misconduct occurring over an extended period of time.

“As a city councilmember and board member of local nonprofits in Ventura County, I saw the enormous positive impact that charities have on our communities,” said Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks). “AB 556 will help keep bad behavior by a few from undermining the confidence that Californians have in the more than 70,000 active nonprofit organizations doing great work in California.  I commend Attorney General Kamala Harris for her work on this issue and look forward to working with her on AB 556.”

In late 2014, a comprehensive report on California’s non-profit sector, Causes Count, was issued by the California Association of Nonprofits (CalNonprofits), a “chamber of commerce” representing 9,200 nonprofits. According to the report, California’s charitable organizations contribute 15 percent — or one-sixth — of California’s Gross State Product.

“California nonprofits are trusted institutions,” said Jan Masaoka, CEO of CalNonprofits. “We support legislation like AB 556 that closes gaps in the law that no legitimate charity needs to exploit to fulfill its mission.  We appreciate that Attorney General Harris and Assemblymember Irwin support the non-profit sector’s role in California as an economic driver, an innovation leader, and a champion for hope and opportunity, always looking toward a better future.”

Legislative text available here.

View the Attorney General’s report on charitable solicitation campaigns conducted by commercial fundraisers here.

Read CalNonprofits’ Causes Count report here.

Assemblymember Irwin’s Website: www.asmdc.org/irwin