Welcome from Attorney General Bob Ferguson
We join all of you in offering our deepest condolences to those impacted by the devastating Oso mudslide. Our office is working hard to support the many state agencies and emergency responders in the recovery efforts.
I would like to thank the state’s first responders for their tireless work in the past weeks. I also want to personally thank the people of Washington for your tremendous outpouring of support.
As you consider how you might contribute to the recovery efforts, you should be aware of charity scammers who might use this tragedy to steal your well-intentioned donations. Secretary of State Kim Wyman and I sent an alert shortly after the tragedy to ensure that donations go to help those in need.
Thank you for following the work of our office.
Bob Ferguson, Washington State Attorney General
Ensuring equality in health insurance coverage
My office recently learned that O’Reilly Automotive, Inc., refused to provide health insurance benefits to its employees’ same-sex spouses despite the fact it provided health insurance benefits for opposite-sex couples.
In Washington, you cannot deny health insurance benefits based on sexual orientation. If a business provides benefits to opposite-sex spouses, it must provide them to same-sex spouses.
My attorneys launched an investigation of O’Reilly.
In response, the company announced it was changing its policy to cover all legal spouses, regardless of sexual orientation.
The new policy applies nationwide, impacting all O'Reilly employees who are legally married.
O’Reilly is a Fortune 500 company with approximately 4,166 stores in 42 states— including 147 stores and nearly 2,200 employees in Washington state.
Read more in the Seattle Times.
View a KIRO TV segment here.
Fighting unfair foreclosures
We recently took action against foreclosure trustee Quality Loan Service (QLS) Corp. of Seattle to stop illegal foreclosure practices. Foreclosure trustees have a duty to treat borrowers fairly under the law. The action:
- Ended deceptive business practices;
- Required QLS to pay roughly $500 in payments to more than 450 homeowners; and
- Delayed the processing of foreclosures for others.
QLS is one of Washington’s largest foreclosure trustees. Trustees are legally required to act in good faith as neutral parties between borrowers and lenders while conducting foreclosure proceedings.
The Attorney General’s Office alleged QLS violated the state’s Deed of Trust Act, which requires trustees to maintain a street address with a physical presence and a working telephone service in Washington state. This requirement ensures homeowners facing foreclosure have a place to ask questions, make last-minute payments, or serve a lawsuit to halt foreclosure.
As a result of our legal action, QLS placed a moratorium on all of its foreclosures from Feb. 27 through April 3— helping hundreds of homeowners who may have been harmed by the lack of a physical presence in Washington.
Foreclosure trustees have a duty to treat borrowers fairly under the law. My office will make sure that all parties in a foreclosure process, including trustees like QLS, play by the rules.
Read more about this case in The Seattle Medium.
Governor, AG team up to force action in Hanford cleanup
Gov. Jay Inslee and I recently announced new demands by the state of Washington to ensure timely cleanup of the radioactive and hazardous waste at Hanford’s nuclear reservation. We proposed new requirements to increase accountability, protect the environment, and reduce the possibility of further delays.
Hanford’s 177 underground tanks house enough waste to fill nearly 85 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Despite a 2010 court-sanctioned agreement, the federal government continues to announce new delays in the cleanup plan.
A new plan
The state’s announced plan seeks to keep Hanford cleanup on track. It is the first step in enforcing the 2010 legal agreement and could pave the way for court action to require the federal government to meet its obligations.
Watch the news conference here.
Listen to the KPLU story here.
Read the Everett Herald editorial here.
Next legal steps
On April 18, the federal government rejected our plan so on April 23, the state announced it would trigger dispute resolution, the next legal step to hold the federal government accountable.
This 40-day process brings the state and federal government together to negotiate agreement. If we can not reach agreement, we may need to return to court.
The people of our region made a tremendous sacrifice when the federal government selected Hanford to produce plutonium during World War II. Further delays are unacceptable.
Consumer Corner: Beware of SR 530 Mudslide charity scams
We were all shocked by the horrific Oso mudslide.
The compassion of the people of Washington residents is evident by the outpouring of support for the families and community members devastated by this tragedy.
Unfortunately, even in the most heartbreaking times, we must protect against scams and fraud.
I joined Secretary of State Kim Wyman to warn people about scammers seeking to capitalize on the mudslide to steal your money.
Here are a few tips to avoid being scammed:
- Be suspicious of solicitors requesting immediate donations. Don’t rush decisions and consider contributing at give.org, a website run by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
- Make sure that charities are qualified to provide the type of disaster relief that is necessary.
- Avoid cash donations. Write a check directly to the charity, not the fundraiser.
Read our news release for more information.
Snohomish County has also posted a Web page with more information on how to safely help the victims of this tragedy.