Reed Smith Client Alerts

State attorneys general (AGs) serve as their states’ top lawyers. Elected, or in some states appointed, these officials hold important and powerful positions, with jurisdiction over a variety of issues, including consumer protection, data privacy and security, antitrust, and product liability. Their investigations and enforcement actions, as well as their policy influence, reach into nearly every industry sector, from tech and energy, to financial services, health care, and telecommunications. As such, it is critical for all businesses to keep tabs on AG activity and build positive working relationships with these offices.

As a result of the unexpected passing of long-time North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem last month, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum announced the appointment of now former-Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley to serve as the state’s AG. With AG Wrigley’s swearing-in yesterday at the capitol building in Bismarck, he became the latest in a new crop of AGs in only the past two and half months.

Just last week, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy nominated Matt Platkin, who previously acted as Governor Murphy’s chief counsel, to serve as the next AG of the Garden State. While Platkin is due to assume the role of acting AG this week, the New Jersey Senate still needs to approve his nomination. Platkin will take over from Andrew Bruck, who has served as acting AG since July 2021. And, in the final days of 2021, Hawaii Governor David Ige appointed Holly Shikada, former first deputy to Clare Connors, who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii, to the AG role. In addition to this raft of recent appointments, as a result of winning Virginia’s off-cycle 2021 election, Jason Miyares assumed the role of Virginia’s new AG on January 15, 2022.

Those who closely monitor AG-related happenings know that more change is on the horizon, with the largest AG election cycle in years set for November. Thirty states and the District of Columbia will be electing their AGs this year. The states where AG elections will be held are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

Additionally, a number of AGs, some who are up for election and some who are not, are currently seeking higher office. Arkansas’s Leslie Rutledge is running for lieutenant governor, and Kansas’s Derek Schmidt, Massachusetts’ Maura Healey, and Pennsylvania’s Josh Shapiro have all announced their intentions to run for their respective states’ governor’s seat. Likewise, Arizona’s Mark Brnovich and Missouri’s Eric Schmitt are both actively engaged in campaign efforts to serve their states in the U.S. Senate, with AG Brnovich running to unseat incumbent Mark Kelly and AG Schmitt running to fill the seat of retiring U.S. Senator Roy Blunt. Arkansas, Kansas, and Massachusetts are all up for grabs in the 2022 elections. If Pennsylvania AG Shapiro fails to succeed in his effort to make it to the Pennsylvania Governor’s Residence, he will have the fortunate position of being able to retain his role as AG. Likewise, Arizona will elect a new AG in November, with several candidates actively vying for the position. After securing a victory in 2020, Missouri AG Schmitt’s seat is not up for grabs until 2024.

While a turnover of new top state lawyers is not at all uncommon, with several changes in the top state law enforcement ranks already underway, and probably more to come, 2022 and 2023 will likely see new opportunities and challenges for businesses regulated by them.

***We were deeply saddened to learn of the loss of North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. AG Stenehjem was a kind, thoughtful, and engaging individual and a true force among the AG community. His family, friends, colleagues, and constituents remain in our thoughts and his legacy will carry on.

Client Alert 2022-038