This week, I joined Attorneys General from across the country who had convened for the National Association of Attorneys General spring meeting in Washington D.C. In meeting with my colleagues, we shared ideas and relevant issues that we face as a nation and how we address these issues on the state level.

When I met with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, we discussed the importance of ensuring that those affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill receive the compensation they deserve. General Strange was appointed by a federal judge to serve as the coordinating counsel in charge of states' litigation. I told General Strange about my correspondences with Mr. Feinberg on moving the Gulf Coast Claims Facility's claims process forward.

I also met with Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway on Florida's pill mill crisis. Unfortunately, Florida leads the nation in diverted prescription drugs, and General Conway has experienced an increase in prescription drug abuse in Kentucky-drugs obtained in Florida. I have made it my top priority to tackle this public safety issue.

In closing, this week began the 2011 legislative session. I am supporting several legislative proposals, ranging from the eradication of Florida's pill mills to Floridians' right to speak at public meetings and from the permanent banning of "bath salts," or MDPV, to provisions that would separate the restoration of civil rights from that restoration being a prerequisite to obtaining an occupational license. I look forward to working with our partners in the Legislature on developing laws to protect the safety and well being of Floridians.
Pam Bondi
Protecting Floridians

Attorney General Bondi and Partners Arrest Eight for Medicaid Fraud

Attorney General Bondi announced on Thursday that in collaboration with partnering agencies, eight Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward county residents were arrested after allegedly defrauding the Florida Medicaid program out of more than $24,000. A three-year investigation revealed that the defendants, employed as home health aides by Genesis Home Health, Inc. in Miami, submitted reports and medical records to Genesis for services that were not rendered. The individuals were arrested on felony warrants by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit with assistance from the Sunny Isles Police Department, Aventura Police Department, Hallandale Beach Police Department, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi Reaches Landmark $68.5 Million Settlement with AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals

Attorney General Pam Bondi announced Thursday that Florida, along with 37 other states, reached a record $68.5 million settlement with AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP for the alleged improper marketing of the antipsychotic drug Seroquel. This settlement is the largest multi-state, consumer protection-based investigation against a pharmaceutical company. The Attorneys General from Florida and Illinois led the investigation into AstraZeneca’s marketing and promotional practices, and Florida's share of the 37-state settlement will be just over $4 million in addition to stopping the conduct.

Upholding the Constitution

Health Care

Today, Attorney General Bondi filed a petition for an expedited, full-court hearing of the health care lawsuit with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. An “en banc” hearing, if granted, would mean the appellate review would be held before all 10 active 11th Circuit judges, rather than the typical three-judge panel. The reason for requesting an en banc hearing is to avoid any unnecessary delays that may arise if a three-judge panel decides the case and then refers it for a hearing by the full 11th Circuit. If Attorney General Bondi’s request is granted, the full 11th Circuit would hear the case on June 6.

Clemency Board

Attorney General Pam Bondi joined Governor Rick Scott, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam in approving new rules on the process to restore civil rights for convicted felons. The new rules were effective immediately by a unanimous vote of the Clemency Board on Wednesday.

Attorney General Bondi believes that convicted felons must earn back their right to govern others by committing to a crime-free life. She also believes that initiating the restoration of civil rights should not be an automatic process for which government is responsible, but rather that responsibility should rest with the individual whose actions resulted in those rights being taken in the first place.

According to the new rules, every felon is now required to submit an application for the restoration of civil rights prior to Clemency Board consideration. There is also a waiting period of five years before felons are eligible for civil rights restoration.

Last week, Attorney General Bondi met with Howard Simon of the ACLU and Dale Landry of the NAACP, and all parties agreed that since the link between civil rights restoration and licensing is based in statutory law and not the Florida Constitution, there should be a separation between the restoration of civil rights and that restoration being a prerequisite to obtaining an occupational license.

Attorney General Bondi believes that public safety can be enhanced by a thorough, individualized review of an applicant for an occupational license by the appropriate regulatory authority. Legislation has been filed for the 2011 session that would eliminate the link between civil rights restoration and licensing, and Attorney General Bondi supports those provisions.

Events

In recognition of March being Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, Attorney General Bondi introduced a resolution during Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, proclaiming March 9th as “Special Olympics Florida Day.” The resolution promotes a greater understanding of people with mental disabilities.