Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Oct 12 2016

Ferguson File Header

BobDear Friends,

The safety of all Washingtonians is one of my biggest concerns.

Whether it’s protecting our financial safety, advocating for vulnerable populations or reducing the threat of violence, it’s a job I take seriously.

That mission to keep us safe informs all of my decisions as Attorney General, and the last month is a good example of our vigilance in this area.

There is no lack of work to be done in this fight, and I will continue to make safety a priority throughout my service as Attorney General.

In this issue:

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



Bob Ferguson
Washington State Attorney General

Ending the sale of assault weapons, limiting high-capacity magazines

In September, I announced my intention to submit legislation in the upcoming session to ban the sale of assault weapons and limit magazine capacity to 10 rounds — currently unlimited under Washington law. Tragically, recent events have underscored the importance of this proposal.

The bill would ban the sale of weapons like the AR-15 used to kill three teens and wound another at a party in Mukilteo in July. Reports indicate that the shooter used a 30-round magazine.

The 25-round magazine used in the recent Cascade Mall shooting in Burlington that claimed five lives would likewise be illegal to sell under my proposal.

These tragedies drive home the urgency to end the availability of weapons designed with only one purpose — to kill people with ruthless efficiency.

I support the Second Amendment right to bear arms, but it is not without limit.

Sens. David Frockt and Kevin Ranker are working with me to craft the legislation, which will not require registration of existing weapons. It will be modeled after legislation in New York and Connecticut, which have adopted similar laws that have been ruled constitutional by courts.

I have a duty to protect the public, as well as to uphold the Constitution. My proposal will ban the sale of some of the deadliest weapons, while respecting the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Q13 Fox News
Washington attorney general wants ban on assault-style weapons; opponents outraged

Seattle Times
Time to ban one of America’s favorite weapons

Backpage.com should be held accountable

I filed a “friend of the court” brief with the U.S. Supreme Court last week, urging the justices to hear an appeal in a case against Backpage.com, which has for years been accused of facilitating child sex trafficking.

A lawsuit filed by three underage girls who were allegedly marketed for sex through Backpage was dismissed by a trial court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The courts cited a provision of the Communications Decency Act intended to protect websites that passively post third-party content from liability for that content.

Backpage, however, doesn’t just passively post these solicitations. In my brief, I accuse Backpage of encouraging the use of language that will attract customers for illicit activity, promoting payment methods that make transactions untraceable, stripping metadata to impair law enforcement’s ability to find victims — and even deleting “sting ads” posted by law enforcement.

I believe Backpage.com actively promotes child sex trafficking and should be forced to live with the consequences. Frankly, the courts so far got this one wrong. I won’t stand by and let websites like Backpage escape accountability on a technicality.

King 5
Wash. AG asks high court to hear sex trafficking case against Backpage

Seattle Times
Washington should lead the fight against child sex trafficking

Stopping companies from “negative option” marketing

Seattle-based Julep Beauty Inc. paid restitution, costs and fees — and also provided hygiene products at no cost to groups that serve victims of domestic violence, as well as homeless and prison populations — in September over its use of deceptive “negative option” marketing.

Julep designs and produces its own nail polish and other beauty products and aggressively markets them through social media and online advertisements.

As a promotion, Julep offers a “free” Welcome Box of beauty products. Consumers must provide a credit or debit card in order to pay taxes and shipping fees, but, between 2012 and 2015, the company did not adequately disclose that consumers were also enrolling in an ongoing subscription plan. That subscription resulted in $19.99 to $24.99 in monthly charges.

Canceling these subscriptions often proved extremely difficult. My office began investigating after we received a number of consumer complaints. The precise number of consumers affected is unclear, due in part to Julep’s inconsistent record-keeping.  Approximately 55,000 customers nationwide canceled these recurring shipments between December 2012 and September 2015.

It is maddening for consumers to receive products they don’t want but are charged for. I won’t allow companies like Julep to get away with deceptive marketing.

King 5
AG fines beauty subscription service Julep for deceptive practices

Seattle Times
Makeup company Julep pays to settle AG’s case over marketing practices


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