Washington AG talks about filing suits against Trump administration

Bob Ferguson

COLFAX — Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson says his office has been involved in 39 lawsuits against the Trump administration and has won all 22 that have been decided.

The chief legal officer in the state of Washington spoke about this and other cases his office is involved in Thursday at a Colfax Rotary meeting.

He addressed the reasons behind his office’s controversial decisions to go to court against the Trump administration.

“Some people think it’s great, some people think it’s terrible,” he said. “I suspect every audience I speak to, there’s usually a pretty good division about it.”

Ferguson said there are three questions that need to be answered before filing a lawsuit against the administration.

Are Washington residents being harmed by the administration’s efforts? Does Ferguson’s team of attorneys have good legal arguments? And is the attorney general legally allowed to bring the lawsuit?

“If we feel it’s yes, yes and yes, then we file,” he said. “If there’s a no in there, we don’t.”

That is why, Ferguson said, he refused to bring a lawsuit against the administration when President Donald Trump signed an emergency declaration to fund the Mexican border wall.

While most other Democratic attorneys general sought a lawsuit, Ferguson said he abstained because he could not prove Washington was being harmed or losing dollars out of its allocated budget because of Trump’s decision.

Of the cases against the adminstration that were decided in Washington’s favor, 10 are still going through the appeals process, he said.

Most recently, Ferguson sued the Trump administration over the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to revise Washington’s water quality standards, and sued to block the administration’s new rule that lets heath care professionals refuse care to patients for religious or moral reasons.

Ferguson said his office is also heavily active in consumer protection cases.

A King County Superior Court judge ruled earlier this month that Comcast violated the Consumer Protection Act 445,000 times and must pay $9.1 million in penalties along with restitution to tens of thousands of customers.

It stemmed from complaints the company was charging customers for its service protection plans even if the customer did not agree to sign up for the plan.

Feguson said the money will go back to consumers and the state, and it will pay for his entire Consumer Protection division. He said the office’s Consumer Protection division is a rare state government entity that makes money for the state.

He said the state will seek even larger penalties against Purdue Pharma and three opioid distribution companies for what the state sees as their harmful role in the opioid crisis in Washington. Ferguson said there have been more opioid prescriptions distributed than there are people in a dozen Washington counties.

He said if these cases are settled, the money the state wins will go back to those communities that were harmed by the opioid crisis.

“My goal for this litigation if there’s a settlement is to put the dollars back into the communities so they can address issues like treatment,” he said.

Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to akuipers@dnews.com.

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