Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson speaks with Federal Way Deputy Mayor Susan Honda following a presentation Ferguson gave at an event hosted by the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning. JESSICA KELLER, the Mirror

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson speaks with Federal Way Deputy Mayor Susan Honda following a presentation Ferguson gave at an event hosted by the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning. JESSICA KELLER, the Mirror

Washington attorney general talks opioid crisis, Trump at Federal Way chamber gathering

AG’s office has garnered national attention in last year.

Holding the federal government accountable and trying to curb the state’s opioid crisis continue to be two areas of focus for the Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson and his staff in 2018, regardless of the headlines his office generates.

At a breakfast event hosted by the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce Tuesday at Twin Lakes Golf & Country Club, Ferguson spoke about the role of the Attorney General’s Office and some of the lawsuits and initiatives his office has been pursuing. Ferguson spoke earlier in the morning to the Kent Rotary Club.

While Ferguson has been accused by some lawmakers in the past year of pursuing legal action — specifically against the Trump administration — to push his own political agenda for his own gain, he said the job of the Washington Attorney General’s Office is defending the laws of Washington state and protecting the rights and legal interests of its residents, regardless of partisan or community support or personal feelings.

“Our job is to represent the state, and sometimes I defend laws that I personally don’t agree with,” he said.

He said his office is the “largest law firm” in the state, with 27 legal divisions and more than 500 attorneys and 600 staff who provide legal services to the state of Washington and its residents by holding special interests accountable and defending residents’ civil rights.

“We need to do that in an independent fashion,” Ferguson said. “That is intensely important.”

With his mission to serve residents’ interests, Ferguson said one of the things he and his officer are actively pursuing is action to address the state’s opioid crisis. He said, on average, two people die from opioid overdoses every day.

“It impacts families all across the state,” Ferguson said of the opioid crisis, adding that at every public speaking engagement he speaks at, he hears more stories from people who are affected by someone with an opioid addiction. “It happens every single time, every single time without exception.”

Ferguson said his initiative to battle the opioid crisis is two pronged. The first is through litigation. The second is through proposals for legislation.

Last year, the AG’s office filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma LP, the maker of OxyContin, for what Ferguson called “deceptive marketing practices” aimed at minimizing the risks and addictive qualities of its drugs. He said, after physicians first began reporting patients who were prescribed the drugs for pain were experiencing addiction, Purdue instead said the symptoms were actually “pseudo-addiction” and the patients were in pain, which should be treated with more drugs. Ferguson said, Purdue and other pharmaceuticals companies being represented by PhRMA are just as aggressively defending their products.

“The good news is, I’m not messing around, either,” he said. “But it’ll be a lengthy, protracted battle.”

Ferguson also said, as AG, his second approach has been to introduce proposals for legislation to regulate opioid medication. Ferguson said his first recommendation proposed is to limit the amount of pills providers can prescribe. The second is to require prescribers to enroll in a state program that monitors opioid distribution.

While Ferguson’s lawsuit against Purdue Pharma garnered state and national attention, he has garnered even more attention for taking on President Donald Trump’s policies he contends are unconstitutional. Since Trump has taken office, the AG’s office has filed 19 lawsuits — as the lead state or as part of a multi-state group of states — against everything from Trump’s travel ban to the decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Ferguson said the litigation the AG’s office has initiated or participated in was not his goal from the onset of Trump taking office.

“There was no plan, like there was some mission to take on the administration,” he said.

He said before filing any lawsuit, against the federal government or otherwise, he asks three questions every time. The first is whether Washingtonians will be harmed if no action is taken. The second is whether he has good legal arguments to support his case. The third is whether he has standing to make the case. If he can answer yes to each question, then he will file a lawsuit.

“Why would I not bring it, that’s the way I look at it,” Ferguson said.

That said, he said he and his staff are very thoughtful about any case his office begins, and he realizes not everybody agrees with his decisions.

Ferguson said he also hopes he will not have to file 19 more lawsuits against Trump in the coming year, but he will if necessary. He also said the overall cost to taxpayers from all these lawsuits is minimal as the Consumer Protection Division supports itself and the Civil Rights Unit through money awarded through successful litigation.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Federal Way Public Schools reveals plan for reopening schools in fall

Depending on state guidelines, students will have a combination of in-person and remote learning days.

The Red Lion Inn at 1 South Grady Way in Renton is being used as temporary site to relocate individuals experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo.
Renton battles King County over temporary shelter at Red Lion Hotel

County officials believe emergency health order will supersede city’s move.

Federal Way teacher pleads not guilty to child rape charges

A Tacoma man pleaded not guilty to three charges of second-degree child… Continue reading

Federal Way’s Pacific Bonsai Museum reopens to the public

Local gardens and exhibits are welcoming guests once again, now with additional safety measures.

Photo courtesy of South Sound News
One woman, two kids injured in serious car crash along Pacific Highway South

A 21-year-old reckless driver may have run a red light and crashed into the victim’s vehicle, police say.

A train route that would shuttle people between Eastern and Western Washington could tie in with the proposed ultra-high-speed rail between B.C. and Portland. Photo courtesy RobertStafford/Pixabay.com
State receives King County to Spokane rail study

It would take about eight and a half hours to reach the Inland Empire from Puget Sound.

Bret Chiafalo. File photo
Supreme Court says state can punish WA faithless electors

Justices: Presidential electors, including Everett man, must keep pledge to back popular vote winner

File photo
Red light, speed zone cameras generate $3.8M for Federal Way

2019 annual report shows 36,789 citations issued for both red light cameras and school zone speed areas throughout the city.

The Chip-In fundraiser hopes to meet the $3 million goal to provide 5,000 laptops to FWPS students.
Former MLB player hopes to raise $3M for 5,000 laptops for FW students

The Chip-In fundraiser site provides 100% of the proceeds to Federal Way Public Schools

Most Read