Squire Patton Boggs’ State Attorneys General Practice Group is comprised of lawyers who have served at senior levels in state AG offices around the country and whose practices focus, to one degree or another, on representing clients before these increasingly assertive and powerful, yet often overlooked, government agencies, as explained in detail here.
In these updates, we will call attention to the most noteworthy state AG news or developments emerging in the previous week.
Texas AG Ken Paxton has announced that a former Medicare provider has been “convicted of conducting fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid programs, attempting to steal more than $1.3 million through illegal practices,” according to a press release. The investigation was conducted by the Texas AG’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. AG Paxton’s press release states that the Medicare provider, for example, billed mentally handicapped patients for transport to facilities not covered by Medicare, billed some individuals “up to three times the original cost” of ambulance services, and falsified entries in patient records. The Medicare provider was “sentenced to serve 30 years with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and to pay a $10,000 fine,” per the press release.
On November 17, New York AG Eric Schneiderman said he was “deeply troubled by reports that the Presidential Transition Team is considering ways to eviscerate . . . [the] Blue Sky laws,” which Schneiderman stated are used by state and local law enforcement “effectively” to “root out the worst types of fraud, corruption, and abuse on Wall Street and across major industries,” according to a November 17 Fox Business Network report. AG Schneiderman’s statement was in response to a November 15 Fox Business Network report that the “Trump transition team,” including in particular “former SEC commissioner and Trump transition team member Paul Atkins,” was “target[ing] the Martin Act – and other similar state regulations known as ‘blue-sky laws’ – for extinction, by crafting legislation that would supersede them with existing federal statutes.”
Attorneys general from 5 states and the District of Columbia have entered into a settlement agreement with the National Football League (NFL) “resolving antitrust concerns about the NFL’s league-wide mandatory price floor policy,” according to a November 15 press release from NY AG Schneiderman. The settlement was entered into by AG Schneiderman and by Ohio AG Mike DeWine, Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, Florida AG Pam Bondi, Pennsylvania AG Bruce Beemer, and D.C. AG Karl Racine. AG Schneiderman states in the press release that the NFL policy at issue “required each of the 32 NFL member teams to impose a price floor on all secondary market ticket sales on the NFL’s Ticket Exchange and related websites officially sanctioned by the league,” meaning that “sellers were not permitted to list tickets for resale on the NFL’s officially sanctioned resale sites at a price lower than the face-value of the ticket.” The NFL terminated the policy during the course of the AGs’ investigation. The settlement agreement provides that the NFL will not reinstate that policy and “prohibits the NFL from directing or requiring ticketing practices among teams that are designed to preclude fans from using competing exchanges,” among other provisions, according to the press release.
Federal prosecutors in Boston have “opened a grand jury investigation into potentially illegal campaign contributions from lawyers at the Thornton Law Firm, a leading donor to Democrats around the country,” according to a November 16 Boston Globe report. Per the Globe’s report, the US attorney’s office and state and federal campaign finance regulators are “investigating whether Thornton and its lawyers violated the law by paying ‘bonuses’ to firm partners in the exact amount of their political donations and often on the same day.” The firm has “insisted that the donations were legal, but, soon after the Globe revealed the firm’s practice, politicians began returning hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations,” according to the Globe’s report.