Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


Dear Friends,

 Health care is vital for all Washingtonians. My office is focused on protecting affordable, accessible health care for everyone. This May, my office filed separate lawsuits against the federal government and large pharmaceutical companies for unlawfully jeopardizing Washingtonians’ access to affordable health care and prescription drugs. Separately, I resolved a lawsuit with CHI Franciscan, restoring competition for health care services on the Kitsap Peninsula.

To foster an ongoing partnership with our state’s 29 Native American tribes, I created a Tribal Consent and Consultation policy. The policy will ensure that we continue to work together with tribes as sovereign nations on issues affecting their people and lands.

As a result of an investigation by my office and the Department of Ecology, Amazon’s marketplace is a safer place to shop for children’s school supplies and jewelry. Our investigation found that several products sold on the marketplace had illegal levels of toxic metals lead and cadmium.

In this issue:

Thank you for following the work of the Attorney General’s Office.


Bob Ferguson
Washington State Attorney General

girl sits alone on a bench

Defending accessible health care for all Washingtonians

On May 28, I filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington challenging the Trump Administration’s “conscience rule.” The rule unconstitutionally jeopardizes access to health care, particularly for low-income, rural and working poor patients, and opens the door to increased discrimination against women and LGBTQ individuals.

This rule allows health care workers to deny a patient access to medical care and services for moral or religious reasons, with no exception for medical emergencies. For example, it would allow an employer to only offer health insurance that does not cover birth control, or enable an EMT who personally opposes abortion to refuse to transport a pregnant woman to the hospital because it could terminate her pregnancy, despite the life threatening health risks facing the mother and the fact that the pregnancy is not viable. Additionally, if the federal government believes that Washington is violating this rule, it may cut off all of the more than $10 billion in health care funding that we receive annually.

All Washingtonians deserve to receive the full range of health care services they need. This rule will illegally and disproportionately harm rural and working poor Washington families, who have no alternatives to their local health care providers. My office stands firmly in support of equal access to health care for all Washingtonians. I will not allow this administration to continue to strip away these basic rights. 


Seattle PI
Ferguson sues: Trump 'conscience rule' imperils poor, rural women

The Daily Chronicle
tate Files to Block Federal 'Conscience Rule' on Health Care

Washington Attorney General sues Trump Administration for the 38th time


two pencil pouches with Spiderman images

Removing toxic school supplies from Amazon’s marketplace

In 2017 and 2018, my office, in partnership with the Department of Ecology, conducted an extensive investigation into the toxicity of children’s school products sold on Amazon’s online marketplace. We discovered that an alarming number of school supplies had levels of lead and cadmium exceeding legal limits. For example, one pencil pouch contained 80 times the legal limit of lead, and another had 29 times the legal limit of cadmium. Lead can cause neurological problems in children and cadmium is known to cause cancer.

Individuals in Washington and across the country made at least 15,188 purchases of products with illegal levels of lead and cadmium.

In a legally binding agreement, Amazon paid $700,000 to my office to help fund environmental protection efforts, including future investigations into toxic children’s products.

In addition, Amazon committed to nationwide reforms requiring all current sellers of these products to provide certifications of lab testing showing their products meet both federal and state safety standards. This commitment applies to all sales on Amazon.com, both when Amazon is the seller of record and when sold by third parties.

I will not compromise when it comes to children’s safety. All retailers must ensure that their products do not pose a threat to Washington children. If they don’t, they will hear from my office. 


The Seattle Times
Amazon vows safety reforms after Washington state AG finds toxic lead and cadmium in children’s products

Amazon to stop selling school supplies with high levels of toxic metals

Seattle PI
Attorney General Ferguson to Amazon: Get the lead out

Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp speaks at Attorney General's press conference

Strengthening partnership with Washington tribes through historic policy

This month, I announced a landmark policy to strengthen partnerships between Native American tribes and my office. The Tribal Consent and Consultation policy requires my office to obtain free, prior and informed consent before initiating a program or project that directly and tangibly affects tribes, tribal rights or tribal lands in Washington. It also requires consultation before filing litigation involving tribes and is intended to resolve such disputes outside of court. This policy is the first of its kind in Washington state and goes into effect immediately.

Additionally, the policy requires meaningful notice to all 29 federally recognized tribal governments in Washington prior to proposing legislation, filing an amicus brief and after issuing a ballot statement that may directly affect tribes or tribal lands. This has already had an impact ― on May 10, my office notified all 29 tribes in Washington state about an initiative that will have a negative impact on tribal compact schools.

I will propose a bill in the 2020 legislative session to memorialize and preserve this policy. I hope other government agencies across the state and the country take notice and consider similar steps.


WA's top lawyer took a rare step to affirm tribal sovereignty — here's why that's a big deal

Seattle PI
Attorney General Ferguson announces consent rule with Washington tribes

The Spokesman-Review
Washington state attorney general announces consent rule for tribes

Pills and spoon on a stack of 100-dollar bills

Fighting collusion and price-fixing in the generic drug industry

Earlier this month, I along with 43 other attorneys general filed a lawsuit against Teva Pharmaceuticals and 20 other companies in response to their egregious price-fixing practices from July 2013 to January 2015. They conspired in secret to raise the prices of over 100 common drugs, this resulted in price increases of well over 1,000 percent for some drugs, with one blood pressure medication increasing by as much as 2,700 percent.

We are seeking damages, the maximum civil penalties allowed under the law and actions by the court to restore competition to the generic drug market. The cost to Washington residents and our friends and neighbors in other states has been severe. Our lawsuit seeks restitution for Washingtonians who paid these inflated prices and sends the message to drug manufacturers that price collusion will not be tolerated.

We estimate that there were billions of dollars of overcharges nationwide, affecting millions of Washingtonians by making it harder to access affordable health care. This is one of the most damaging price-fixing conspiracies in history, and we’re going to hold those responsible accountable.


KIRO Seattle
AG Ferguson sues pharmaceutical companies for conspiring to drive up generic drug costs

iFiberOne News
Washington AG sues pharmaceutical companies for allegedly driving up costs of generic drugs  

Attorney General's Health care initiative logo

Restoring competition for health care services on Kitsap Peninsula

As a result of my office’s lawsuit, CHI Franciscan will pay $2.5 million and take actions to restore competition for health care services on the Kitsap Peninsula. This money will be distributed between at least four health providers on the peninsula to increase access to health care, going directly to patient services. CHI Franciscan is required to sell their controlling interest in an outpatient surgery center in Silverdale, and my office will continue to monitor CHI Franciscan to ensure Kitsap residents regain their access to a variety of health care choices.

I filed this lawsuit after CHI Franciscan acquired multiple clinics and an outpatient surgery center, which combined the three largest orthopedic physician services in the Kitsap region. Internal communications uncovered as part of the lawsuit revealed the true motives behind these deals. For example, CFO Mike Fitzgerald wrote in an email: “It would be great to drop a couple of million more to our bottom line, if we think we can do it.” Anti-competitive deals such as this one hurt Washingtonians by increasing wait times, prices and access to basic health care options.

Additionally, I supported House Bill 1607, which requires health systems, hospitals and physician groups to notify my office 60 days in advance of any mergers, acquisitions or contracting affiliations of a certain size so that we can determine their impact on competition. This bill passed the Legislature on April 15 and is part my office’s ongoing effort to protect Washingtonians from anti-competitive practices.


Kitsap Daily
State AG, CHI Franciscan tussle over settlement

Kitsap Sun
State settles antitrust lawsuit with CHI Franciscan


Police officers and Attorney General at Medal of Honor ceremony

Working across Washington

This month, I celebrated the exceptional service of our law enforcement and engaged in important discussions with community groups on the challenges facing our state and our nation as part of my continued commitment to advocate for all Washingtonians.

I am grateful to have had the chance to honor and commemorate those who have lost their lives protecting our communities at the Law Enforcement Medal of Honor ceremony. We also celebrated law enforcement who have performed exceptionally meritorious service. The men and women of law enforcement put themselves in harm’s way every time they put on their badge, and we all owe them a debt of gratitude for the work they do in our communities.

I joined a number of journalists at the Crosscut Festival to discuss the central issues we face today as a state and a nation, including the unlawful actions of the Trump Administration and the opioid epidemic.

I spoke at the Consumer Education and Training Services (CENTS) spring gala about how our office works with them to educate consumers about student loan debt and scams aimed at senior citizens. Along with AARP, the Federal Trade Commission and Microsoft, I provided tips and updates on the latest scams affecting seniors at the first event in AARP’s annual consumer education campaign.

I had the pleasure of taking a trip to Whidbey Island, where I visited the Whidbey Westside and South Whidbey Rotary clubs. I joined the Economic Development Council for Island County at their annual meeting.

I reiterated my office’s commitment to upholding the civil rights of all Washingtonians at the Chinese Information Services Center’s annual gala and thanked them for the excellent work they do in our community.

I joined hundreds of Washingtonians at the Stop the Bans Rally in support of women’s reproductive rights in our state and our country.

To end the month, I attended the Tri-Cities Latino Community Luncheon and discussed the work my office is doing to prevent and punish immigrant services fraud, as well as my continued commitment to protect the rights of DREAMers who call our state home.


Thanks to spoofing, caller ID is no longer a reliable way to tell who's calling you

Washington News Service
More Than a Nuisance: WA Groups Launch Campaign Against Robocalls

The Seattle Times
How to avoid falling victim to scam calls



SUBSCRIBE to have The Ferguson File sent straight to your inbox each month.