President of National Association of Attorneys General addressed human trafficking, mortgage crisis
ANCHORAGE, ALASKA – Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna today concluded his term as president of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), handing the gavel to Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler.
“State attorneys general demonstrate that our successful bipartisan collaboration to confront serious problems – such as human trafficking and the foreclosure crisis – is now the norm,” said McKenna. “Having worked closely with Attorney General Gansler on these and other important matters, I know he will build on NAAG’s successes by addressing the key issues of our time.”
McKenna’s term has been an active one. When he became president in June of 2011, McKenna announced his “Pillars of Hope” initiative to identify victims of human trafficking and provide life-changing services. The initiative also stresses the importance of identifying, tracking and holding accountable those who traffic in human beings and those who purchase their services.
In August, McKenna announced that he had brought together 45 attorneys general to encourage online classified site Backpage.com to drop so-called “adult services” advertisements. “Adult services” is widely understood to mean prostitution. McKenna’s staff had tracked 50 instances in 22 states of minors sexually exploited through ads on the site. Eventually every state attorney general would join the call for Backpage to clean up its act. In March, over 100 community members and 20 members of clergy delivered more than 240,000 petition signatures to the headquarters of Backpage’s parent company, the Village Voice, asking for an end to a form of advertising that imposes a particularly devastating toll on kids. A bipartisan coalition of US Senators joined the effort, encouraging many Village Voice sponsors to terminate their relationship with the company.
In February, nearly a year of intense negotiations over mortgage servicing and foreclosure abuses resulted in the largest consumer financial protection settlement in U.S. history. State attorneys general, working closely with the federal government, obtained the $25 billion settlement from the five largest loan servicing companies. Thousands of Washington state homeowners who have already lost their homes or are struggling with mortgages larger than the value of their property stand to benefit.
“This settlement represents the best of what public officials can do when they work together, across party lines,” McKenna observed today. “It wouldn’t have happened without Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller; a bipartisan negotiating team of attorneys general from Washington, Illinois, Florida, Texas, Colorado, Connecticut and North Carolina; attorneys from the US Justice Department; and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan.”
McKenna’s term as president of NAAG concluded where it started, with a focus on human trafficking. His “Pillars of Hope” initiative culminated in March with a summit of international experts in Seattle, where Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced that the initiative would continue as a standing NAAG committee under her leadership.
“This complex challenge of identifying and holding accountable traffickers and rescuing victims is just beginning,” said Coakley. “The work Rob started must go on. We will establish it as part of what attorneys general across the country do. We will work to empower victims to become victors.”
Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725