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Sean D. Reyes
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AG Reyes Says Net Zero Alliance Favors Agenda, Not Investors

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a coalition of States, led by Tennessee, in sending a letter to signatories of the Net Zero Financial Service Providers Alliance (NZFSPA), expressing concerns over the legality of NZFSPA obligations – specifically federal and state antitrust and consumer protection laws.

The States highlight that several signatories, including the “Big Four” accounting firms, are coordinating a radical environmental agenda, spearheaded by groups affiliated with the United Nations “Net Zero” movement, supporting global efforts to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. According to the coalition, the “Big Four” alone consume three-fourths of the accounting industry. These actions likely violate federal and state antitrust laws and consumer disclosure mandates. The letter requests information from NZFSPA signatories to determine the next steps for the coalition to pursue.

The attorneys general write in their letter, “The substantial commitments you have made as NZFSPA signatories give us pause, as they do not appear consistent with our laws protecting consumers. Although many of you are direct competitors with one another, you have collectively agreed to coordinate the ‘alignment’ of your products and services under the guise of a shared ideological vision. By aligning your products and services with the Paris Agreement’s exacting specifications, you are necessarily taking actions to artificially restrict the supply of goods and services in the real economy. These restraints on trade may inhibit innovation, suppress output, and harm consumers.”

Joining Utah and Tennessee on this letter were the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Read the letter here.

Attorney General’s Office Charges EXITUS CEO with Multiple Felonies

On Friday, the Utah Attorney General’s Office charged Candace Lierd (a.k.a. Candace Rivera) with 34 felonies related to fraudulent activity at EXITUS, a Utah non-profit, anti-human trafficking corporation.

Lierd was arrested Friday morning for engaging in a pattern of unlawful activity, including communications fraud, theft by deception, theft of services, identity fraud, forgery, and unlawful conduct.

An Attorney General’s Office investigation uncovered evidence that Candace Lierd repeatedly made false representations to donors, who gave money to support the fight against human trafficking. Some of the money Lierd used for personal expenses, including homes, apartments, cars, and trips. Lierd claimed to be a physician, physician’s assistant, and registered nurse but was never licensed or registered in Utah.

Lierd is currently held in the Utah County Jail without bond as the investigation continues.

Read the probable cause affidavit here.

AG Reyes Sends Letter to Ensure Local Input on Fish and Wildlife Policy

Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a comment letter, led by the State of Alabama, to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service opposing proposed rules that would expand the federal government’s authority to designate land as endangered species habitat without cooperation from states as required by law.

The States rise in opposition to the proposed regulations because the Endangered Species Act requires the Fish and Wildlife Service to “cooperate to the maximum extent practicable with the States” in designating endangered species habitats, placing important constraints on the Service’s ability to define new habitats. In their letter, the attorneys general argue that the proposed rules circumvent these essential constraints and highlight their disappointment with the agency’s attempt “to resurrect aspects of rules many of the States have already challenged as unlawful without even conducting a federalism impact statement as required.”

The attorneys general add, “As the chief legal officers of our States, we take seriously the responsibility to steward resources and care for the diversity of wildlife in our States. Long before federal agencies were created for such purposes, the Constitution recognized that States have the primary legal responsibility for wildlife protection and administration. Congress did the same when it enacted the Endangered Species Act, directing the Services to ‘cooperate to the maximum extent practicable with the States.’ States know their resources best and are uniquely positioned to engage in creative conservation efforts that work with, rather than against, private landowners and businesses to spur species recovery and protection.”

Joining Utah and Alabama were the States of Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Read the letter here.

C.A.S.E. Strike Force Seeks Info on Theft Suspects

UPDATE: As of 9/16/23, the male suspect has been identified, and as of 9/15/23, the blonde female accomplice has been identified.

Today, investigators from the Utah Attorney General’s Office Crimes Against Statewide Economy (C.A.S.E.) Strike Force/Organized Retail Theft Unit is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying the suspects responsible for thefts at six retail stores in cities throughout Salt Lake, Davis, and Utah Counties.

The suspects typically enter businesses posing as shoppers, seeking expensive athletic wear, clothing, and other apparel. They stack numerous items into a shopping cart and leave the store without paying for the merchandise. So far, the two suspects are tied to thefts totaling at least $5,000.00 in property losses.

The C.A.S.E. Strike Force is asking for tips to identify a muscular African-American man in his 30s, often seen wearing a baseball cap. He has been accompanied by Caucasian female accomplices. At least three different companion females have been identified at various locations. The suspect and his companions were seen in a white SUV with unknown license plates.

Anyone with information on the suspects and similar thefts can confidentially contact Agent Steve Jensen, C.A.S.E. Strike Force Division, at (385) 977-9398.

Remembering 9/11

Twenty-two years ago, our nation suffered an unspeakable tragedy with the premeditated terrorist attacks of September 11. Thousands of innocent Americans lost their lives, and countless families were forever changed.

As we mark another anniversary of these terrorist attacks, General Reyes and the Utah Attorney General’s Office continue to mourn with the victims’ family members of over two decades ago. We hope for peace in our world and a return to the unified spirit that defined our nation after 9/11.

A demonstration of our country’s patriotism, resolve, and unity came through one of America’s most significant challenges and disasters. Men, women, and children rallied around our flag, and the heroes in our military ensured justice was done to our enemies and those who harbored them. We resolved to rebuild and restore what terror had sought – and failed – to destroy.

Following the murderous attacks of September 11, the most lasting legacy was the unity that emerged. Americans from across the country and from all walks of life came together to grieve, comfort, and encourage.

The hurt we experienced in our nation’s collective soul should never be forgotten. In fact, American unity helped our country heal. We demonstrated the best of America through one of our worst experiences.

Attorney General Reyes Urges Congress to Study AI and Its Harmful Effects on Children

As part of a bipartisan 54-state-and-territory coalition, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes today joined a letter urging Congress to study how artificial intelligence (AI) can and is being used to exploit children online and to propose legislation to protect children from those abuses.

AG Reyes states, “As artificial intelligence accelerates our country’s incredible tech advances, we need to protect children from those who would weaponize AI to harm, exploit or abuse our kids in any way. As a former tech VC, I am personally aware of the many benefits of AI. As a law enforcement leader, I also see the tragic use of AI in the hands of vicious predators. I’m proud to join this bipartisan coalition of state AGs as we advocate to defend children’s innocence on this new frontier of human achievement.” 

The dangers of AI as it relates to online child sexual exploitation fall into three main categories: (1) a real child who has not been physically abused but whose likeness has been digitally altered to depict abuse, (2) a real child who has been physically abused and whose likeness has been digitally reproduced in other depictions of abuse, and (3) a child who does not even exist who has been digitally created in a depiction of abuse that feeds the market for online child sexual exploitation.

According to the letter, “AI is also being used to generate child sexual abuse material (CSAM). For example, AI tools can rapidly and easily create ‘deepfakes’ by studying real photographs of abused children to generate new images showing those children in sexual positions. This involves overlaying the face of one person on the body of another. Deepfakes can also be generated by overlaying photographs of otherwise unvictimized children on the internet with photographs of abused children to create new CSAM involving the previously unharmed children.”

Attorney General Reyes and the rest of the coalition ask Congress to form a commission to study how AI can be used to exploit children and to “act to deter and address child exploitation, such as by expanding existing restrictions on CSAM to explicitly cover AI-generated CSAM.”

The letter continues, “We are engaged in a race against time to protect the children of our country from the dangers of AI. Indeed, the proverbial walls of the city have already been breached. Now is the time to act.”

The bipartisan letter is led by South Carolina and co-sponsored by Mississippi, North Carolina, and Oregon. Also joining Utah on the letter are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia. Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, the Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, the Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

You can read the full letter here.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes Announces Google Agreement

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Attorney General Sean D. Reyes announced that a bipartisan group of 52 states and territories reached an agreement with Google. The agreement arose out of a lawsuit over the company’s anticompetitive conduct involving the Google Play Store. General Reyes issued the following statement: 

This is a tremendous win for consumers, app developers, and the marketplace. The combination of monetary damages on top of injunctive remedies that will change Google’s behavior is what we desired from the very outset of this case. Utah is proud to lead this lawsuit with so many states joining our fight. We couldn’t have accomplished this global settlement without the collective and Herculean efforts of so many dedicated lawyers and staff from AG offices around the country.

In their lawsuit (Utah v. Google), the States focused on the company’s Play Store, alleging that Google harmed consumers by using its monopoly power in the Android app market to inflate prices for paid apps and in-app purchases. The agreement in principle will be finalized over the next 30 days, when the complete details will be made public. 

The lawsuit was led by Attorney General Reyes and the Utah Attorney General’s Office, with assistance from the Utah Division of Consumer Protection, along with the Attorneys General of North Carolina, Tennessee, New York, and California, who released the following joint statement: 

No company is too big to play by the rules, including Google. We brought this lawsuit because it is illegal to use monopoly power to drive up prices. We appreciate this bipartisan group of Attorneys General who fought for a fair marketplace that encourages competition, innovation, and lower prices for consumers. We look forward to finalizing this agreement and sharing more details in the next 30 days. 

In August 2021, General Reyes made the following comments after initiating action: 

Google’s monopoly is a menace to the marketplace. Google Play is not fair play. Google must be held accountable for harming small businesses and consumers. It must stop using its monopolistic power and hyper-dominant market position to unlawfully leverage billions of added dollars from smaller companies, competitors, and consumers beyond what should be paid.

Most consumers have no idea that for years Google has imposed unnecessary fees far beyond the market rates for in-app transactions, unlawfully inflating costs for many services, upgrades, and other purchases made through apps downloaded on the Google Play Store. As a result, a typical American consumer may have paid hundreds if not thousands of dollars more than needed over many years. Utah and the other states in our coalition are fighting back to protect our citizens and innovative app developers—including many small businesses across America—from Google’s unlawful practices.

Read the original press release from the Utah Attorney General’s Office. No additional information will be released until the agreement is finalized. 

AG Reyes Objects to Costly and “Flawed” Pipeline Regulations

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a coalition of States, led by Louisiana, in sending a letter to the Deputy Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) over its Proposed Rule, Pipeline Safety: Gas Pipeline Leak Detection and Repair. The Attorneys General request that the Proposed Rule be withdrawn.

The proposed rule is part of the Biden administration’s ongoing scheme to eliminate methane emissions from new and existing gas pipelines and facilities. PHMSA claims to derive authority for the rule from a 2020 law directing the agency to prioritize the “assignment and maintenance of safety” in regulating natural gas pipelines. However, the pending regulation turns congressional intent on its head. As the attorneys general write in their letter, PHMSA’s statutory authority is “premised on Congress’s determination that pipelines are necessary and desirable, and that any regulation of those pipelines must satisfy strict statutory constraints.”

In their letter, the States argue that PHMSA’s understanding of the 2020 law is “flawed” and that “PHMSA failed to apply the statutory requirements for it to regulate.” These requirements include conducting a cost-benefit analysis and considering the cumulative costs of the rule.

Joining Utah and Louisiana on the letter were the States of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Read the letter here.

A Labor Day Message From the Attorney General’s Office

Today, we celebrate Labor Day, which was established as a national holiday by President Grover Cleveland in 1894. Since this nation’s inception, the incredible American workforce ethic, innovation, and perseverance has been the envy of the world.

This day is an opportunity to remember and honor the men and women who have contributed to the DNA of our country, and to inspire countless boys and girls to continue in our ancestors’ hardworking footsteps.  

Attorney General Sean D. Reyes and the Utah Attorney General’s Office team wish all Utahn workers a very happy Labor Day.

Our state is fortunate to employ the finest workers in all of the United States. Each one of our workers – across every industry and profession – has left an unmistakable mark on our state and its history. We will be forever grateful for these individuals, their diligent service, and for the society they have built.  

Young Utahns Learn About Civil Liberties From Constitution Reading

Yesterday, children of all ages attended a Read the Constitution! patriotic event at the Utah State Capitol, which included a reading of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. There, they learned more about our country’s beginnings and founding principles.

At the end of the event, Attorney General Sean D. Reyes shared some inspiring insights with everyone present about why our country is great and the ideals it was built upon.

Recently, AG Reyes spoke at Constitution Day before the American Preparatory Academy (APA) students. From the event and taken directly from APA’s blog, they shared the following message about the Attorney General’s sentiments:

His words resonated with profound wisdom, emphasizing the imperative of understanding our constitutional ideals and the power they bestow upon us. Attorney General Reyes recounted an inspiring story of combating human trafficking in Haiti, underscoring the importance of action guided by constitutional principles.

He extolled that the American spirit that invokes change through collective dedication is regarded as a standard of excellence worldwide. He reminded us to be inspired by the ideals within our founding document and by the American spirit of those willing to support it with action.