State Attorney General Insider – Winter 2020-2021 | December 2020 | Issue No. 3, Broad Strokes: State Attorneys General Continue Their Deep Dive

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP

Since our last Insider, much of the policy and enforcement focus of the state Attorneys General has been centered on issues around the COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest and election integrity.

In particular, state Attorneys General have been assessing COVID-19 compliance at senior centers, restaurants and hospitality companies, and advising state educational systems by providing counsel and insights into the enforcement of executive orders implementing shutdowns and social distancing. State Attorneys General have inserted themselves in social unrest and protest issues, as well as assuring that we had safe polling places and verifiable in-person and mail-in election results. As the economy continues to suffer as a result of COVID-19 shutdowns, state Attorneys General have amped up their enforcement efforts around alleged unscrupulous financial services companies.

Meanwhile, the state Attorneys General remain vigilant in multistate efforts targeting opioids, probing the use of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) and attacking Big Tech on antitrust grounds. Despite extremely thin legal underpinnings, some state Attorneys General continue to investigate internet lenders and their relationship to "true lenders." As sports betting continues to take hold in more states, the role of the state Attorney General as the regulator is beginning to take shape. State Attorneys General have also forayed into the meatpacking industry, investigating workplace safety issues. Finally, state Attorneys General are doing deeper dives into student loan servicers, regardless of clearly articulated federal preemption and federal control of the student loan servicing salient rules.  

All in all, it has been an incredibly intense 2020 for state Attorneys General. Moving forward into 2021, we can expect shifting alignments between the state Attorneys General and the new federal administration as it settles in. In the Obama Administration, the working relationship between the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Democratic state Attorneys General was extraordinarily close in terms of shared complaints and concurrent investigations. We will undoubtedly see that again. Similarly, the Republican state Attorneys General will rev up their joint efforts to challenge many Biden Administration initiatives, particularly in the immigration and health care spaces.  

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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