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Sean D. Reyes
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AG Reyes Writes Blackrock Fund Directors About ESG Concerns

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a letter to BlackRock fund directors to express continued concerns over past and present actions involving their fiduciary duties to clients and commitments to radical environmental organizations. The letter, which was led by the State of Montana, requested answers to a series of questions in the wake of BlackRock’s recent announcement that it would substantially scale back involvement in Climate Action 100+.

The February 2024 letter follows one sent by the coalition of attorneys general in July 2023 that questioned whether BlackRock should continue to serve as an investment adviser to the mutual funds it manages, highlighted potential conflicts of interest, and raised concerns about the company’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investments. BlackRock responded to the July letter in August 2023.

“Thanks to persistent efforts from Republican attorneys general to defeat the radical and illegal ESG movement, BlackRock and other investment firms have rightly withdrawn from certain environmental organizations committed to a foundational transformation of America’s energy and financial sectors,” said General Reyes. “Our coalition, however, still has concerns with BlackRock’s past and present actions involving the financial interests of our constituents. We will remain steadfast in holding BlackRock and others like it accountable by protecting the financial freedom of our people.”

As the attorneys general point out in their recent letter, while BlackRock “announced that it was dropping its corporate membership in Climate Action 100+, [it] remains a member of other groups such as the Net Zero Asset Managers initiatives, the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment, and Ceres.” The States write that “BlackRock has made commitments to environmental activist groups that may conflict with the fiduciary duties it owes to clients, and we seek more information about how the independent directors have overseen this.”

The attorneys general seek responses to their queries by March 26, 2024.

Joining Utah and Montana on the letter are the States of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Read the letter here.

AGO Celebrates Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month when Americans celebrate women’s achievements and ongoing contributions to our society. Women have played a key role throughout Utah’s complicated and exciting history.

As such, the Utah Attorney General’s Office is proud to recognize the many talented and dedicated women who serve and have contributed to our great state. From athletes and journalists to prosecutors and political leaders, women play a vital role in making significant and lasting impacts.

This month, we invite you to recognize the inspiring stories of women who have made a difference.

Explore the Utah Women’s History Initiative to discover all the contributions of Utah women and hear from Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson about what we can learn from Utah women’s history.

Read more about Women’s History Month here.

AG Reyes Joins Amicus Brief Asking SCOTUS to Rein in Unelected Bureaucrats on Constitutional Questions

Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, along with 21 other Attorneys General, in the case of Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v U.S. Food and Drug Administration, urging the Court to uphold the people’s constitutional authority to make laws through their elected officials.

In their brief, the Attorneys General write:

Our Constitution establishes a limited federal government that leaves most power with – and accountable to – the people. Federal agencies present special risks to that design. So when agency action pushes constitutional bounds, this Court’s review of that action is searching – not deferential. The FDA’s actions here push constitutional bounds. Those actions test the separation of powers, sap federalism, and take important decisions from the people. This Court should therefore exercise searching review of those actions and reject the FDA’s plea for deference.

At issue in this case is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) actions to enact a nationwide elective abortion regime without statutory authority and without regard to the important women’s health, safety, and welfare interests that are the primary responsibility of states. Today, the Attorneys General remind the Court, “Congress has never enacted—and could not now enact—any such policy. Yet the FDA does not just claim authority to impose such a policy. It demands ‘significant deference’ to its actions imposing that policy.”

Utah is joined by Attorneys General from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming in filing this brief.

Read the brief here.

AG Reyes Demands Answers from Biden Administration on Trafficking of Migrant Children

SALT LAKE CITY — Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes took the lead in sending a letter, signed by 21 other Attorneys General, demanding Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra, and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray address a recent report issued by the HHS Office of Inspector General that found unaccompanied migrant children in the custody of the federal government are being released into unsafe situations, including into human trafficking.

In the letter, the Attorneys General expressed concern over the Biden Administration’s recent revelation that it cannot locate 85,000 migrant children for which it is responsible. The letter cites a February 2023 New York Times report that states many of these children have been forced into labor for debilitating hours under dangerous conditions, often in violation of child-labor laws and resulting in grave injury and death. Others, the letter notes, are sex trafficked.

The February 2023 New York Times investigation revealed that the federal government knowingly allowed these unaccompanied minors into the country and released them out of the federal government’s custody without conducting proper vetting and safety checks and, in fact, “regularly ignored obvious signs of labor exploitation.”

In a report issued this month, HHS’ Office of Inspector General confirms and documents many of the issues found in the New York Times investigation, admitting that more than one-third of children’s case files were flagged with safety concerns. In some instances, “address checks conducted by case managers yielded results such as vacant houses or nonresidential addresses, but no home studies were conducted before children were released to these sponsors.”

The Attorneys General note that Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, recognizing this problem more than three months ago, asked the Department of Homeland Security for its plan to address this growing crisis but has received no response. Now, the Attorney Generals demand the Administration account for these reports in writing by May 1, 2024.

“Our states have a strong interest in enforcing state and federal law within our borders,” the Attorneys General write, “We are also dedicated to fighting against human trafficking and are outraged that victims now include children that were in the federal government’s care…. Missing children must be identified, and potential sponsors must be vetted.”

Attorneys General from the following states joined General Reyes in sending the letter: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Read the letter here.

Attorney General Reyes signs Letter Urging Congress to Pass the Stephen Hacala Poppy Seed Safety Act

Utah Attorney General Reyes is joining a coalition of 12 state attorneys general on a letter urging Congress to pass the bipartisan Stephen Hacala Poppy Seed Safety Act, a bill to address another aspect of the opioid crisis.

Stephen Hacala was a 25-year-old resident of Fayetteville, Ark., who was found dead in his apartment due to morphine intoxication caused by contaminated unwashed poppy seeds. Unwashed poppy seeds contaminated with Schedule II controlled substances like morphine and other opioids are widely available for purchase through common online sources.

The proposed legislation would prohibit the distribution and sale of opioid-laced poppy seeds and prevent future addiction, harm, and death. Additionally, it would set a two-year timeline for the Food and Drug Administration to issue and finalize a rule establishing maximum permissible contamination levels.

In addition, Attorney General Reyes joined Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin, who sent the letter to Congressional leadership. The attorneys general of the following states also signed on to the letter: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

To read the letter, click here.

AG Reyes Joins Amicus on States’ Rights to Create Environmental Policy

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined an amicus brief to the Supreme Court of the State of Montana in Held v. Montana. The brief, led by the State of North Dakota, supports Montana’s position in an appeal over judicial overreach from a question of environmental policy set by the state legislature.

The case involves a challenge to a Montana law that bans state entities from “considering the impacts of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or climate change” in setting policy. The trial court ruled that this provision was unconstitutional, setting itself up as the branch of government tasked with formulating the “correct” environmental policies for the entire state. The decision led to an appeal to the state supreme court.

In their brief, the States argue that “addressing climate change is a political question,” that the “plaintiffs’ alleged injuries are not redressable by the courts,” and that “the trial court’s order threatens to impermissibly regulate interstate commerce.”

The coalition of attorneys general write, “Addressing climate change while balancing the needs of modern society is a matter of profound importance and requires making fundamental policy choices. In our constitutional republic, those fundamental policy choices are made by the people through their elected legislatures, not by the courts. The Court should reverse the trial court’s judgment or, at minimum, clarify that its order does not dictate policy choices that belong to the political branches or require the State to engage in extraterritorial regulation of the power grids or energy market.”

Joining Utah and North Dakota were the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Virginia.

Read the brief here.

AG Reyes Supports Bipartisan Trafficking Survivors Relief Act

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a coalition of attorneys general in supporting the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act, introduced by U.S. Representative Russell Fry of South Carolina. The letter was led by South Carolina.

H.R. 7137, the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act, was introduced by a bipartisan coalition including U.S. Representatives Russell Fry, Ted Lieu, Ann Wagner, and Robert Garcia. According to Congressman Fry’s Office, the bill “would provide federal criminal record relief to survivors of human trafficking who committed a non-violent offense as a direct result of having been a victim of trafficking.” The legislation has been referred to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary.

In the letter, the attorneys general write, “We want to ensure survivors of human trafficking have all the resources they need to succeed in their communities throughout their recovery. That is why we commend the efforts of Members of Congress who have authored the “Trafficking Survivors Relief Act” and join multiple organizations in endorsing this bill to allow human trafficking victims a pathway to clear their records of non-violent criminal offenses committed as a direct result of being trafficked.”

Joining Utah and South Carolina in signing the letter were the States of Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Tennessee.

Read the letter here.

Attorney General Reyes Joins Bipartisan Coalition Urging Congressional Action on Pharmacy Benefit Manager Reform

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a letter to congressional leaders advocating for legislative action to reform Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) practices. The letter, sent by the National Association of Attorneys General, was led by Arkansas, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

According to the bipartisan coalition of attorneys general, the “original purpose [of] the Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM) was to protect and negotiate on behalf of employers and consumers after pharmaceutical manufacturers were criticized for overpricing medications.” However, due to “a small number of PBMs [that] hold significant market power,” the PBMs reap “abundant profits at the expense of the patients, employers, and government payors [they] are supposed to help.”

In their letter, the attorneys general explain that “while state law can provide the basis for oversight of and lawsuits against PBMs, States often face arguments by PBMs that federal jurisdiction and preemption limit states’ authority to regulate PBMs.” This quandary led to the States writing to congressional leaders in support of three proposals that would “combat high healthcare costs”: The DRUG Act (S1542/HR6283), Protecting Patients Against PBM Abuses Act (HR2880), and The Lower Costs, More Transparency Act (HR5378).

Passage of these three bills would help “state and federal regulators [to] work together to better meet their shared responsibility to hold PBMs accountable and improve the country’s health care system overall.”

Joining Utah, Arkansas, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania as signatories on the letter were the States of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming; as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Read the letter here.

AG Reyes Opposes Overreaching EPA Lead Pipe Replacement Rule

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a comment letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its proposed rule, “National Primary Drinking Water Regulations for Lead and Copper.” The letter, which was led by the State of Kansas, urges the federal agency to withdraw the rule.

On December 6, 2023, the EPA released the proposed rule. According to the attorneys general, the rule “requires not just States and public water systems, but every homeowner to replace every lead pipe line in the country within the next ten years.”

In their letter, the coalition of attorneys general argue that the proposed rule “implicates the Major Questions Doctrine, invokes the outer limits of the Commerce Clause, [and] is arbitrary, capricious, unworkable, underfunded, and unnecessary.”

The States write, “The EPA also expects this rule will lead to increased water prices for all American families, in some cases by hundreds of dollars per year. Under President Biden, Americans are already burdened by high energy and utility prices, which are increasing at rates that outstrip even the crushing inflation witnessed in other household expenses over the last few years. And at least partly due to the inflation that this administration failed to control, most – over 60% – do not have savings set aside for emergencies, let alone to pay for unnecessary pipe replacements.”

Joining Utah and Kansas as signatories on the letter were the States of Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming.

Read the letter here.

Attorney General Helps Celebrate Hispanic Youth Day Event

Attorney General Sean D. Reyes spoke and presented awards to Hispanic youth during the annual Youth Day Event held at the Utah State Capitol on February 18, 2024.

During their fight for independence, Venezuelan youth sacrificed and served as a part of the victory at the Battle of La Victoria.

It is now the Hispanic community’s tradition to recognize their outstanding youth members who have contributed themselves, their time, and their efforts toward their families, communities, and country.

In AG Reyes’ address, he stated:

First, I ask you to never forget where you come from, where your parents come from, and to be proud of it. Wherever you come from in the world, you are welcome.

Second, and no less important, is that always praise and ensure, during the rest of your lives, the well-being and prosperity of the United States, the great country that has welcomed you and that is, without a doubt, a great and powerful nation, cradle of freedom. Honor and exalt the United States always with your progress and professional advancement through life, always try to have that gratitude and love present and active.

The event concluded with an award ceremony presented by AG Reyes and photo opportunities for all present.