Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Nov 04 2022

The Ferguson File a monthly e-newsletter from attorney general bob ferguson

attorney general bob ferguson Dear Friends,

We’ve been busy!

This month I thought it would be interesting to highlight our work on your behalf in less than a week to end the month.

On Oct. 26, a judge granted my request for the maximum penalty of $24.6 million against Facebook for its 822 intentional violations of our voter-approved campaign finance law. It’s the largest campaign finance penalty anywhere in the country, topping the record penalty we secured earlier this year against the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

The next day, my office stood up for fair elections by filing a brief at the United States Supreme Court challenging the extremist “Independent State Legislatures” pushed by allies of former President Trump who wanted to overturn the results of the 2020 election. This rule could destabilize elections nationwide.

That same day, we announced wins in two consumer protection cases.

  • A King County judge granted a temporary restraining order against a Seattle business preying on immigrants by making deceptive promises to help them with legal assistance then later abandoning them in courtrooms after charging thousands of dollars.
  • We also won a court order against the owners of the Center for COVID Control permanently barring them from doing business in Washington after our investigation revealed that they were providing false negative test results, storing samples in trash bags for more than a week without proper refrigeration, and backdating sample collection dates.

The day after that, the judge granted our request the Facebook reimburse taxpayers for our costs related to bringing the campaign finance case – and tripled that amount due to Facebook’s intentional conduct. The judge ordered Facebook to pay $10.5 million in addition to the $24.6 million penalty for a total judgment of $35.1 million.

I also spoke to the University of Washington School of Law about the work of Sexual Assault Kit Initiative to improve the response of our sexual assault.

The following Monday, we won our court case against multiple businesses and their owners for scamming small businesses across the state. These businesses sent letters to hundreds of thousands of Washington businesses demanding payment for government certificates or posters. The letters created a deceptive net impression that they came from government and the posters and certificates were required by government. That was not the case. More than 15,000 Washington businesses paid these companies about $85 apiece, or $1.27 million.

We took them to court and won full restitution for these 15,000 businesses plus pre-judgment interest. The court also granted our request for $23.5 million in penalties for 232,091 violations of the Consumer Protection Act. It’s worth noting that these defendants have been operating around the country and this is the first judgment putting a stop to their scam anywhere.

That same day, my legal team accepted a felony guilty plea for a Spokane County employee that stole millions of dollars from taxpayers. My team of prosecutors and I are committed to holding those who engage in public corruption accountable. These prosecutions protect taxpayers and preserve the public trust.

That’s a busy week(!) in a month that also included a major win in our lawsuit combating price-fixing in the chicken industry that harmed 7 million Washingtonians, a State Supreme Court argument in our case against Value Village, and a proposal to protect Washingtonians health data privacy, including data connected to reproductive health care.

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Bob Ferguson
Washington State Attorney General

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