Fighting the Scourge of Human Trafficking
- Attorney General Cuccinelli made fighting human trafficking a priority of his administration by dedicating a staff attorney as Virginia’s first-ever anti-trafficking coordinator, by toughening penalties, and by training law enforcement how to identify it and attorneys how to use existing laws to prosecute it. The attorney general personally participates in his office’s training sessions that continue to teach thousands of law enforcement officers, prosecutors, school resource officers, administrators, and victim services professionals throughout Virginia about trafficking, gang movement into sex trafficking, and the state laws available for prosecuting these crimes.
- Because of the attorney general’s continued efforts, in 2011, he received national recognition from the anti-trafficking group Polaris Project for significantly improving Virginia’s ability to fight human trafficking; and in 2013, Polaris moved Virginia up to the highest tier in its state rankings.
- Mr. Cuccinelli’s office regularly teams up with federal prosecutors to break up sex and labor trafficking rings and put traffickers behind bars. His office works closely with federal prosecutors to lead both the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force and the Central Virginia Human Trafficking Working Group, both of which are actively disrupting trafficking operations in Northern and Central Virginia.
Fighting Child Predators and Sex Offenders
- Attorney General Cuccinelli has increased his office’s ability to find and prosecute Internet child predators and child pornographers, resulting in a 77 percent increase in convictions since he arrived in 2010 (up from 13 convictions in 2009 to 23 in 2012). He reorganized staff and mandated they more actively reach out to local law enforcement to offer their expert assistance in gathering and analyzing computer evidence. As a result, evidence-gathering backlogs across the state have been reduced, which has dramatically increased the speed of local investigations, allowing justice to be delivered more swiftly. His Computer Crime Section now averages two to three convictions each month – the highest rate in the office’s history.
- In August 2011, Mr. Cuccinelli’s Computer Crime Section spearheaded the largest child exploitation operation in the history of Virginia. Virginia’s Internet Crimes Against Children task forces worked together 24 hours a day for one week to target and identify child predators on the Internet. “Operation Phalanx” resulted in 31 arrests of child predators in Virginia, with another 26 targets referred for arrest in other states and internationally.
- From January 2010 through July 2013, the Computer Crime Section obtained 72 convictions in child exploitation / child abuse cases, with a total of 559 years of active prison time, plus one life sentence.
- The attorney general has also begun building a new state-of-the-art forensic lab within the office, and he is acquiring a mobile computer forensics lab to assist in on-site evidence collection and analysis in localities across Virginia. The expansion was funded entirely with money from a criminal settlement, meaning Virginia will remain on the cutting edge of computer crimes enforcement with no additional taxpayer funding required.
- Attorney General Cuccinelli worked with U.S. Immigration Control and Enforcement to identify and remove illegal alien sex offenders from Virginia and put them in line for federal deportation.
- In 2012 alone, his Sexually Violent Predators Civil Commitment Section filed 52 commitment petitions, made 431 court appearances, and traveled more than 72,000 miles to ensure that sexually violent predators with a high potential to repeat offend were not allowed back in our communities but instead were civilly committed to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.
- Attorney General Cuccinelli continues to fight the gang violence of the Crips, the Bloods, MS-13, South Side Locos, and more – prosecuting gang members and putting them behind bars. In 2012 alone, his office convicted 23 gang members for a total of 236 years in prison.
- He has two dedicated gang prosecutors, both of whom have been named “Gang Prosecutor of the Year” by the Virginia Gang Investigators Association (one in 2010, the other in 2012).
- He received an award from the National Gang Crime Research Center for producing one of the most effective anti-gang videos for kids in the country (“for superior service in public education and gang prevention”). The video talks to kids honestly about the lies gangs tell to recruit them: there is no fame, no big money, no real sense of family. Instead, gang life puts them in one of three places: jail, the hospital, or the morgue. While the attorney general aggressively prosecutes violent gang members, he is also leading campaigns to reduce gang recruitment of young people.
- Mr. Cuccinelli’s office coordinates programs such as the Gang Reduction and Intervention Program and works with private sector partners such as the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation to provide alternatives to kids at risk of joining gangs. Since 2007, the foundation has provided more than $950,000 in cash and equipment to bring programs to communities across the commonwealth. The attorney general also regularly speaks to young people about the rule of law, making healthy choices for positive futures, and the harms of bullying in our schools and communities.
Fighting Medicaid Fraud and Recovering Millions in Taxpayer Funds
- The only division in his office the attorney general significantly increased in size was the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU), where he added approximately 40 investigators and prosecutors in response to the continued increase in referrals of taxpayers being defrauded through the Medicaid program and money being diverted from providing medical care for the poor.
- The expansion helped Virginia recover stolen tax dollars many times over what it spent on additional staff. The Medicaid fraud unit recovers an average of $3.1 million in taxpayer funds per employee, and the more investigators and prosecutors hired, the more recoveries the unit is able to bring in.
- During Mr. Cuccinelli’s tenure, Medicaid fraud convictions have led to a record $1.58 billion in court-ordered restitution, fines, and penalties. That totals more in recoveries than all previous Virginia attorneys general COMBINED since the unit was created in 1982. The expansion Mr. Cuccinelli initiated has already resulted in a fourfold increase in major cases currently under investigation.
- In addition, the Virginia MFCU is 75% federally funded and 25% funded by the commonwealth. As a result of the unit’s aggressive investigations and convictions, the Virginia MFCU is the only MFCU in the country which has been able to negotiate that the penalties from its fraud investigations be used to fund the state share of its budget. The result: the criminals fund Virginia’s portion of the unit, not Virginia taxpayers.
- Under the Cuccinelli administration, the Medicaid fraud unit announced two national record-breaking settlements resulting from its fraud investigation into Abbott Laboratories’ promotion of the drug Depakote for uses which were not approved:
- A $100 million settlement in the largest consumer protection fraud case against a pharmaceutical company in U.S. history; and
- $1.5 billion in the second largest Medicaid fraud case in U.S. history.
- Medicaid fraud investigations not only recover millions of dollars in fraudulently taken taxpayer money each year, but they also help ensure that funds are available to help Virginia’s poorest citizens receive access to needed health care.
Funding Critical Public Safety Initiatives… with Criminals’ Money
- As the lead investigator in cracking the Abbott Labs case, the attorney general’s office was awarded $115 million in fines from Abbott. Although the money is the office’s to keep, Mr. Cuccinelli has been making plans for more than a year to distribute the majority of the proceeds to local police and sheriffs’ departments to buy needed equipment such as bulletproof vests, protective gear, tactical vehicles, police cars, and computers and software.
- He is also putting tens of millions of dollars aside to create an endowment to perpetually pay for training for law enforcement and local prosecutors. He is donating at least $30 million to shore up two severely underfunded state law enforcement retirement funds – funds necessary to provide the retirement benefits that were promised to officers who have faithfully served their fellow Virginians. He is also expanding programs in his own office to better combat Internet predators, child pornographers, human traffickers, gangs, and domestic abusers – all at no expense to the taxpayers.
- Continuing a commitment to mental health issues that predates his time as an elected official, Attorney General Cuccinelli is also directing $3.5 million from the Abbott settlement to fund training to help law enforcement better respond to crisis situations involving individuals with mental illnesses.
Combating Domestic Violence
- Attorney General Cuccinelli’s longstanding personal commitment to the eradication of domestic violence and sexual assault continues in his professional work. His office leads a series of programs aimed prevention, prosecution of criminals, and victims’ support services, including:
- providing a statewide facilitator who assists state agencies and nonprofits in implementing domestic violence prevention and support programs and enhancing cooperation among them;
- providing training and technical assistance to local and state prosecutors, law enforcement officers, victim/witness personnel, and victim advocates;
- publicly recognizing localities that have created innovative responses to domestic violence, so their best practices can be shared with other communities;
- producing an Annual Report on Domestic and Sexual Violence in Virginia and reporting on the status of domestic violence programs to the General Assembly each year; and
- running the Address Confidentiality Program — a mail-forwarding service for victims that keeps their addresses confidential and unknown to their abusers. During the Cuccinelli administration, the program was expanded beyond select localities and was made available to victims across the commonwealth.
Fighting for Consumers
- As the representative for consumers when utility companies ask to raise their rates, Attorney General Cuccinelli aggressively represents residential and business customers and has opposed numerous rate increase attempts by ApCo, Dominion Power, Allegheny Power, NOVEC, Alpha Water, Columbia Gas of Virginia, and American Water Company. He balances the need for companies to make money so they are incentivized to continue providing reliable and abundant services, while opposing rate increases he determines are unjustified. From 2010-2012, due to Mr. Cuccinelli’s advocacy, he saved Virginia consumers from approximately $147 million in proposed rate increases.
- He also studied the ineffectiveness of incentives for electric companies that were part of a 2007 reregulation law – incentives that cost customers millions but produced little benefit in return. His report was the catalyst for significant reforms during the 2013 General Assembly session — reforms that will lead to $1 billion in savings over the next 12 years for households and businesses across Virginia. Virginia’s competitive energy prices and reliable energy sources are a significant attraction for businesses and jobs to come to the commonwealth.
- Over his tenure as attorney general, Mr. Cuccinelli has fought for and returned more than $1 billion in restitution to Virginia consumers from several successful consumer protection cases against companies such as Skechers, Apple, Publishers Clearinghouse, Bank of America, Citigroup, and so-called mortgage foreclosure “rescue” companies for their alleged misrepresentations about their products and services to consumers. In addition, he has also returned in excess of $73 million in fines to the state’s General Fund from these and other companies.
Fighting Prescription Drug Abuse
- Partnering with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Attorney General Cuccinelli led the Virginia Prescription Drug Take-Back project and collected nearly 39 tons of expired and unwanted prescription drugs statewide in just three years, keeping them out of Virginia waterways and out of the hands of kids and drug abusers.
- In response to both the tragic suicide of a colleague’s son and the growing epidemic of young people starting drug habits with prescription drugs pilfered from friends’ and family members’ medicine cabinets, he launched the REALITY public service campaign to urge parents to secure their prescription drugs at home to prevent them from getting into the wrong hands.
Defending the Rights of the People
- Attorney General Cuccinelli has been a champion for Virginian’s property rights, sponsoring a 2007 law and helping write the constitutional amendment that passed in 2012 with 74% of the popular vote. The amendment dramatically curbs the state’s eminent domain power, so private homes, farms, and small businesses can no longer be taken from their owners by government and turned over to private developers merely to increase tax revenues, economic development, or private gain.
- He personally argued the case of VDOT v. EPA and successfully stopped the EPA in its unprecedented and illegal attempt to regulate water itself as a pollutant in Virginia streams, saving Virginia taxpayers $300 million.
- He received the Defender of the Constitution Award from the Conservative Political Action Conference for leading the fight against the unconstitutional overreach of the federal government, which threatens the liberty of every citizen. He was the first attorney general to sue over Obamacare (although the case was lost, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed with his legal arguments). He is suing the EPA for illegally creating a cap-and-trade scheme to regulate the gas we all exhale as a danger to human health and for virtually outlawing one of America’s primary sources for electricity: coal. He stopped the federal Office of Surface Mining from attempting to shut down coal mines in Southwest Virginia, potentially saving thousands of jobs and the biggest driver of the economy in one of the poorest parts of Virginia.
- Mr. Cuccinelli advised the commonwealth not to create Obamacare’s state-based health insurance exchange where people can purchase subsidized insurance. By not creating the exchange, Virginia employers may be saved from the $2000-$3000 per employee Obamacare tax if they can’t afford to provide government-approved health insurance for their employees. Not creating the exchange could save Virginia businesses billions annually and put the commonwealth at huge competitive advantage for attracting businesses over neighboring states with state-created health insurance exchanges.
Exonerating the Innocent
- Attorney General Cuccinelli took the unprecedented step as a prosecutor to stand on the defendant’s side of the courtroom to help exonerate four innocent men for crimes they did not commit: Thomas Haynesworth, Calvin Cunningham, Bennett Barbour, and now Johnathan Montgomery. In the case of Thomas Haynesworth, Mr. Cuccinelli personally argued the matter before the Court of Appeals. When Thomas had difficulty finding a job after being released from prison in 2011, the attorney general gave him a job in his office.
- Mr. Cuccinelli also wrote a law the General Assembly passed in 2013 that makes it easier for the wrongly convicted to bring up new evidence to prove their innocence, even after 21 days has elapsed since their convictions (known as Virginia’s strict 21-Day Rule). The previous law was so stringent that even people who were innocent could not get to court to prove it. The new law also formally allows the attorney general to help defendants by switching from his purely adversarial role and instead working to help them prove their innocence, not their guilt.
Good Stewardship of Taxpayer Dollars
- Each year he’s been in the AG’s office, Attorney General Cuccinelli has worked with a smaller General Fund budget than the budget he inherited in 2010 when he arrived. When he arrived, it was $19.6 million, and when he leaves, it will be $18.1 million.
AG’s General Fund budget:
FY10 $19.6 million
FY11 $18.9 million
FY12 $19.3 million
FY13 $18.1 million
FY14 $18.1 million
The attorney general worked with this smaller budget by reallocating money to priorities and identifying efficiencies, including tighter budgeting and leaner spending, spending less on senior staff salaries and recruiting fewer senior staff members at the beginning of his administration, moving offices to consolidate space, revisiting vendor relationships, and reducing travel.
- Because of such sound fiscal management, even with a smaller General Fund budget, the attorney general was able to fund several overdue IT projects, set aside money for merit-based bonuses and raises, and was even able to save enough to RETURN part of his operating budget to the General Fund each year.
Operating budget dollars AG Cuccinelli has RETURNED to the General Fund each year:
- Attorney General Cuccinelli replaced the traditional government across-the-board bonus and raise system for employees. Instead, just like the private sector, supervisors recommend bonuses and raises based on individual employee performance evaluations. Employees are rewarded based on the outstanding value they provide the taxpayers, while underperforming employees are coached as to how they can improve their performance. This system helps retain outstanding employees and incentivizes underperforming ones to do better, and the taxpayers benefit from a more efficient and productive staff.
The money allocated for bonuses and raises is determined only after all other office expenses are paid for the year. Only if the office saves money is there money available for bonuses and raises.
Honoring Our Veterans
- Attorney General Cuccinelli has worked to ensure that all veterans have the opportunity to become and remain gainfully employed in Virginia. The attorney general established training for state agencies, localities, and private employers so they could learn how to comply with the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, which protects the jobs of members of the military when they are on active duty serving their country. His office has trained more than 14,000 people on the act throughout Virginia.
Preserving Virginia’s Environment
- Attorney General Cuccinelli hasn’t just opposed the EPA when it overreached it authority; he also worked with the agency to stop four major homebuilding contractors from polluting Virginia waterways with improperly disposed of trash and toxins that washed off their construction sites during rain storms. The companies agreed to pay fines and implement procedures to comply with stormwater runoff regulations.
Virginia’s Top Lawyer
- Attorney General Cuccinelli has issued hundreds of official legal opinions to his state clients –- from gun rights issues, to the state funding of charities, to free speech issues — and none have been overruled by a court.
- He successfully won approval from the U.S. Department of Justice for every change in Virginia election law and procedures, and for the redistricting of Virginia’s Congressional and General Assembly seats.
- As he swore an oath to do, he has always put the law first despite sometimes intense outside pressures from interest groups. Even when he doesn’t personally agree with a law, if it is constitutional, he does his job and works to uphold it.
- He has served as the nonpartisan lawyer for all the members of the General Assembly and the governor – whether Republican, Democrat, or independent.
- He and his attorneys review almost every bill before the General Assembly each year and advise legislators and the governor as to their constitutionality and compliance with federal law.