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Sean D. Reyes
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Utah Attorney General’s Office Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes encourages Utahns to celebrate and reflect on all the ways the Hispanic community has helped strengthen our country and enrich the lives of the American people.

The United States is a diverse nation, strengthened by the dedication our Latino citizens have shown to upholding American ideals. They play a significant role in our communities as veterans, educators, first responders, business leaders, athletes, entertainers, elected officials, and much more.

This month is an opportunity for all of us to more fully celebrate and reflect on the ways the Hispanic community has helped strengthen our country and enrich the lives of the American people. E pluribus unum!

AGO Supports ‘Save Women’s Sports Act’ Brief

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined the States of Arkansas and Alabama on an amicus brief in support of Arizona’s Save Women’s Sports Act, which has been challenged in federal court. The case Doe v. Horne is currently pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

In 2022, the Arizona Legislature passed a law prohibiting biological males from playing on women’s sports teams in public schools or universities. After the law went into effect, the parents of two biological males who wanted to play on their school’s female sports teams filed a lawsuit challenging the law. A U.S. District Court Judge temporarily blocked the law from being enforced, leading Arizona to appeal to the Ninth Circuit. The coalition of attorneys general urge the Ninth Circuit to reverse the lower court’s ruling because States may lawfully classify “females, women, or girls based on their biological sex.”

As the States write in their brief, “This is not a sex-discrimination challenge. Far from demanding all sports go coed, Plaintiffs want to take advantage of sex-segregated sports. This is an underinclusiveness challenge. Plaintiffs ask federal courts to compel Arizona to continue segregating on the basis of sex, but to define ‘girls’ broadly enough to include some biological males. That is, Plaintiffs seek the sex-segregated regime’s benefits by challenging the contours of the segregation. But though separating males and females for the benefit of girls’ sports warrants heightened scrutiny, following the understanding of sex that has endured for millennia does not.”

Joining Utah, Arkansas, and Alabama are the States of Alaska, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Read the brief here.

AGO Supports Melissa Holyoak’s FTC Nomination Consideration

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Today, Melissa Holyoak, Utah’s Solicitor General, was considered by the U.S. Senate’s Commerce Committee to serve as a Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission. We are very proud of her journey and all that she has accomplished for Utah and hope that her nomination receives a vote soon.

Attorney General Sean D. Reyes remarked, “Today, U.S. Senators and others around the country saw what Utahns have witnessed and benefited from for years: a dynamic and qualified public servant, who is ready to assume her future responsibilities as an FTC Commissioner. We at the Utah Attorney General’s Office are immensely proud of Melissa, and though we will be sad to see her leave our team, we are thrilled to watch her take on this new challenge. Utah’s loss will be America’s gain. We look forward to a quick, bi-partisan Senate vote to confirm her the first Utahn to serve as a Commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission.”

Watch the nominations hearing here. 

AG Reyes Joins Petition Supporting Free Speech Rights Outside Abortion Facilities

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court in Vitagliano v Westchester asking the Justices to hear arguments in a matter concerning free-speech buffer zones around abortion facilities. The Petition was led by the State of Kentucky. 

The challenge is being brought by a 64-year-old Catholic mother, Debra Vitagliano, who lives in Westchester County, New York. Vitagliano desires to utilize her training as a sidewalk counselor outside of abortion facilities, but she is legally prohibited from doing so by the recently passed Reproductive Health Care Facilities Access Act (2022). The law mirrors Supreme Court precedent in Hill v Colorado (2000), which gives local governments immense latitude in concocting schemes to regulate free speech outside of abortion facilities if the content is not deemed appropriate or lawful. 

In their Petition, the States argue that “Hill is an aberration and should be overruled” and that “[c]ontinued reliance on Hill curtails free-speech rights.” 

According to the coalition of attorneys general, “[T]here is no abortion exception to the First Amendment. Sidewalk counseling is not second-class speech, and government restrictions on it must meet the same standards as every other content-based restriction.” 

Joining Utah and Kentucky on the Petition were the States of Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. 

Read the Petition here.

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.