Today, the White House announced Utah Solicitor General Melissa Holyoak as a nominee for Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes stated, “Melissa Holyoak is a remarkable public servant. Her intellect and devotion to protecting the liberties of our citizens have been instrumental to our work here in Utah. Her strong leadership ability and experience at the highest levels of legal advocacy make her an ideal choice for this crucial role. Melissa’s respect for the Constitution, good government, and love for the people have been the foundation of her service here, and I am confident she will bring these principles to her work at the FTC. I am proud to support the president’s nomination.”
Melissa Holyoak has served in the Utah AG’s Office with distinction since September 2020. Her efforts as one of Utah’s highest-ranking attorneys have demonstrated a deep commitment to constitutionally limited government, civil liberties, economic freedom, fairness, and the rule of law. Holyoak will play a pivotal role as an FTC Commissioner in protecting consumers and promoting competition.
AG Reyes added, “While we are sad to see her go, we know she will serve our country well, and we couldn’t be more proud. On behalf of the State of Utah, I wish Melissa every success in this new chapter of her distinguished career. I look forward to witnessing the outstanding contributions she is certain to make at the Federal Trade Commission.”
Melissa Holyoak graduated from the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law in 2003 as an Order of the Coif and Law Review member. She has argued in the Fifth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and D.C. Circuits. Currently, she lives in Utah with her husband and four children.
The FTC protects consumers and enforces antitrust laws to ensure fair competition. Its mission is to stop anticompetitive, deceptive, or unfair business practices. The FTC has five commissioners, up to three belonging to the same political party. Nominated by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, commissioners typically serve seven-year terms.
In response to the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office today, titled the “U.S. vs. The Custodian of Record for the state of Utah”, the Attorney General’s Office responds as follows:
“This case is about conduct that took place before AG Reyes or his current leadership team were in office.”
“It involves allegations related to numerous state agencies. As part
of its constitutional duties, the Utah AGO is representing those agencies in
“The Utah AGO has cooperated with the OIG investigation to the maximum
extent allowable under legal and ethical rules and has been following strict
orders of this court not to disclose anything publicly.”
“In fact, the federal court overseeing this matter issued an
order/gave explicit instructions that our office could not discuss in
public/with the media the substantive issues in this case.”
“However, we do not believe it is a violation of the court’s order to reiterate/clarify that: (1) this administration had nothing to do with the alleged conduct, (2) the state agencies involved in this matter are represented by the Utah AGO and these agencies will provide defenses of their conduct at the appropriate time when instructed by the court, (3) the AGO has fully cooperated with OIG and handled this case with professionalism and excellence on behalf of the State of Utah.”
About a month ago, a large black bird showed up outside the Capitol Hill executive offices of Utah’s Attorney General. It was strange to see this large bird—about the size of a cat—just perched on the window and apparently not afraid of our ogling and tapping on the window. And there were mixed reactions from all of us the other side of the glass.
“Look how big (he) is!” (People always assume a stray animal is a male).
“What’s he doing here?”
“Why doesn’t he fly away?”
“Is this good luck or bad luck?”
Some in the office even started calling the bird “Edgar” as in Edgar Allan Poe who wrote the poem “The Raven” in 1845, a work often noted for documenting a distraught lover’s descent into madness.
It turns out that OUR raven wasn’t ominous or mysterious. In fact, SHE is a female, friendly trained bird named Cash that was missing from the Tracy Aviary.
For a few weeks, Cash managed to work her way into the lives of the people in our office who always wondered why she would just hop from the rail to the window and hang out, looking at the people on the other side of the glass. We snapped pictures, left croutons for her to eat, enjoyed her friendly presence. Cash entranced tourists who also noticed this unusual sight.
Initially, no one knew that Cash was hanging out at the Capitol after being chased away from the Aviary by hawks as her handlers were training her a month ago. I called Tracy Aviary because her appearance at the Capitol met all the criteria in the ‘Missing Raven’ notification online. On Saturday, her handlers came to the Capitol, and she flew to them before they even saw her. We’re all happy and grateful that she is back where she belongs, but we in the AG’s office must confess we are a little sad that our mysterious visitor won’t be perched outside our windows anymore.
Today marks the 242nd anniversary of the adoption
of the American flag by the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. Since
then, the flag has flown over our nation as a powerful symbol of independence,
freedom, and hope.
Forged in the fires of war and adversity, the American flag has
blazed time and time again through the darkness of hardships in our history as
a burning beacon of the indomitable spirit of its people. By honoring the flag,
we honor those men and women who courageously fought and perished for this
nation in order to protect your rights and freedoms and allow the flag to fly
In the words of Henry Ward Beecher, “A thoughtful mind, when it sees a nation’s flag, sees not the flag only, but the nation itself; and whatever may be its symbols, its insignia, he reads chiefly in the flag the government, the principles, the truths, the history which belongs to the nation that sets it forth.”
On this Flag Day, we celebrate and honor the American flag’s
enduring message of freedom and hope. Together, let us all take a moment to
remember those who heroically fought to protect that message and truly make America
the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Yesterday, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes had the distinct privilege to share with the families who’ve lost loved ones and honor those who gave their lives in service at the Larkin Sunset Gardens Memorial Day service.
I am honored to address veterans and their families here at Larkin Sunset Gardens for this Memorial Day service. Especially now, as our country has men and women serving in harm’s way, we offer gratitude to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.
Our nations’ freedoms mean everything to me and my entire family. We are all extremely grateful to those who sacrifice to keep our nation great.
This Memorial Day weekend, as we enjoy the privilege of being a part of this great nation, the Utah Attorney General’s office extends its gratitude to those who sacrificed their lives to protect our country and keep it free.
May we never forget
what it took for us to enjoy the liberty and prosperity within which we all
However you choose
to celebrate, please be careful and travel safe.
UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL CALLS FOR AUTOMATIC DISCHARGE OF STUDENT LOANS FOR PERMANENTLY DISABLED VETERANS Sean D. Reyes Leads a Nationwide Petition to the Education Secretary
SALT LAKE CITY – As the nation prepares to honor fallen troops on Memorial Day, Attorney General Sean D. Reyes is leading a bipartisan coalition of 51 Attorneys General (50 states and Guam) to urge the Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos to automatically forgive the student loans of veterans who became totally and permanently disabled in connection with their military service.
This effort, led by Attorney General Reyes and New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, calls on DOE to develop a process to automatically discharge the `student loans of veterans determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs to be eligible for such relief. While the automatic discharge process is in development, the letter proposes DOE should halt debt collection efforts targeting disabled veterans and clear their credit reports of any negative reporting related to their student loans.
“Forgiving their school loans is the least we can do to recognize their service and sacrifice,” Attorney General Reyes said. “These veterans have suffered permanent and total disability as a direct result of their service to our country. They and their families have sacrificed health, quality of life, and often their dreams for the future. Many have lost their ability to work and pay off any school debt.”
“There are many veterans in our state who signed up to serve our country and suffered life-altering injuries as a result,” Major General (ret.) and Chief Civil Deputy Brian L. Tarbet said. “Discharging their student loan debt is simply the right thing to do. I personally know of military families in this situation who could benefit from this kind of assistance but would never ask for it. Let’s make it easier on them to make a better life for themselves after the life-changing sacrifices they made.”
Last year DOE identified more than 42,000 veterans nationwide as eligible for student loan relief due to a service-related total and permanent disability, the attorneys general note in their letter to Secretary DeVos. Fewer than 9,000 of those veterans had applied to have their loans discharged by April 2018, however, and more than 25,000 had student loans in default.
The letter urges an automatic loan discharge process that gives individual veterans an opportunity to opt out for personal reasons “would eliminate unnecessary paperwork burdens and ensure that all eligible disabled veterans can receive a discharge.”
“Currently, far too few disabled vets who qualify for loan forgiveness have applied because they are unaware of or unable to make an application for the benefit,” Reyes said. “And far too many are in loan default, which negatively impacts their lives in very serious ways. Automatic forgiveness guarantees each of them the peace of mind they deserve and demonstrates our gratitude as a nation for what they have endured and continue to endure.”
The Utah Attorney General’s office leads Utah@Ease, a public-private partnership that offers legal assistance and representation to veterans and Active Duty, Reserve and National Guard service members.
The veteran’s groups supporting such proposals have included: Vietnam Veterans for America, Veterans Education Success, The Retired Enlisted Association, High Ground Advocacy, and Ivy League Veterans Council.
SALT LAKE CITY – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined 47 attorneys general across the country this week to urge Congress, once again, to amend the Communications Decency Act in order to make sure state and local authorities are able to protect our citizens online and take appropriate action against online criminals.
The Communication Decency Act of 1996 (CDA) was designed to encourage the growth of the internet by promoting free expression, particularly on online message boards. The Act was intended to allow companies who sponsor message boards to remain immune to repercussions from inappropriate posts. However, a misinterpretation of Section 230 of the Act has led some federal court opinions to interpret the Act so broadly that individuals and services, which knowingly aid and profit from illegal activity, have evaded prosecution.
Enabling Sex Traffickers Act” and “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex
Trafficking Act” (known as FOSTA-SESTA) was signed into law in 2018, making
clear that the CDA’s immunity does not apply to enforcement of federal or state
sex trafficking laws. Unfortunately, the abuse on these platforms does not stop
at sex trafficking, but includes all sorts of harmful illegal activity such as
online black market opioid sales, identity theft, and election meddling.
This is not the first time the attorneys general have addressed this issue with Congress. In 2013 and 2017, nearly every state and territory AG wrote to inform Congress of the damaging misinterpretation and misapplication of Section 230 of the CDA.
230 expressly exempts prosecution of federal crimes from the safe harbor, but “addressing
criminal activity cannot be relegated to federal enforcement alone simply
because the activity occurs online,” the letter states. “Attorneys General must
be allowed to address these crimes themselves and fulfill our primary mandate
to protect our citizens and enforce their rights.”
In addition to Utah, the following states and territories joined in this letter: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The Utah Attorney General’s office researches, deploys, and shares cutting edge technology with law enforcement agencies here in Utah and around the world. We do this with careful attention to the crossroads where liberty, privacy, and public safety intersect.
Whether it’s using new technology to speed up DNA testing or capturing real-time intel to solve kidnappings, our office helps Utah live up to its reputation as an innovative, tech-friendly state that respects Constitutional freedoms. Hexwave technology (press release below) promises a faster, less-intrusive way for law enforcement to keep large crowds safe, and we are interested in exploring the possibilities. As long as new technologies respect Constitutional protections, the AG’s office will explore and deploy every tool available to keep people safe and bring criminals to justice.
Audio of AG Reyes addressing the use of Hexwave in Utah:
The following press release was issued May 22, 2019 by Liberty Defense.
Liberty Defense Signs MOU with the Utah Attorney General for Testing of HEXWAVE
SALT LAKE CITY and VANCOUVER, May 22, 2019 /CNW/ – Liberty Defense Holdings Ltd. (“Liberty”), a leader in security and weapons detection solutions, is announcing that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Office of the Utah Attorney General to beta test HEXWAVE in the state.
The Utah Attorney General, Sean Reyes, is an elected constitutional officer in the executive branch of the state government of Utah. The attorney general is the chief legal officer and legal adviser in the state.
“HEXWAVE can be applied in a variety of settings to provide a means to identify possible threats before they advance into attacks. We are excited that the Attorney General of Utah recognizes the potential value of this technology and the opportunity it provides for enhanced security in the state,” said Bill Riker, CEO of Liberty Defense.
The proposed testing with and through the Office of the Attorney General may include, but is not be limited to:
Sporting and concert arenas, stadiums and Olympic venues
Primary, secondary and higher education facilities
Places of worship, facilities and property owned by or affiliated with faith entities
Government offices, buildings and facilities
Entertainment events, conventions, shows and festivals
The Attorney General has committed to work in Partnership with Liberty to facilitate introductions and advise interested parties and venues on the potential for HEXWAVE technology. The goal of this initiative is to improve public safety for the citizens of Utah.
“We are pleased to be a part of this phase of testing this new product. Innovation in this space is essential as the type and frequency of threats also evolve. We look forward to evaluating the capabilities of the HEXWAVE product,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes.
This beta testing phase is a key part of the product development process for HEXWAVE. The incremental testing of the system in actual facilities can help to ensure that it is aligned to market requirements. Beta testing is expected to begin later in 2019 and progress into 2020.
About Liberty Defense Liberty provides security solutions for weapons detection in high volume foot traffic areas and has secured an exclusive licence from MIT Lincoln Laboratory, as well as a technology transfer agreement, for patents related to active 3D imaging technology that are packaged into the HEXWAVE product. The system is designed to provide discrete, modular and scalable protection to provide layered, stand-off detection capability. This is intended to provide a means to proactively counter evolving urban threats. The sensors with active 3D imaging and AI-enhanced automatic detection are designed to detect metallic and non-metallic firearms, knives, explosives and other threats. Liberty is committed to protecting communities and preserving peace of mind through superior security detection solutions. Learn more: LibertyDefense.com
About Utah Attorney General Since the admission of Utah as a state on January 4, 1896, the Attorney General has been an independently elected constitutional officer of the executive department and serves four-year terms. The current Utah Attorney General is Sean Reyes.
About Utah Utah is a state in the western United States. It became the 45th state admitted to the U.S. on January 4, 1896. Utah is the 13th-largest by area, 31st-most-populous, and 10th-least-densely populated of the 50 United States. Utah was the home of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and may yet host future Olympic games.
In 2018, Utah police officers fired at 30 individuals and killed 19, making it one of the deadliest years in recent history. Each month of last year in the state of Utah, someone died from lethal force used by a law enforcement agent.
Earlier this year, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes sent a letter to all law enforcement partners to inform them of a study this office has since launched. The study will compare 2018 with previous years in an effort to discover trends and factors contributing to the higher rate of police-involved deaths.
“Utah experienced a record number of officer-involved shootings in 2018. All of us in law enforcement have taken note of this increase and the impact it has on our officers and on the public. I believe this warrants a cooperative in-depth study to see what actions we might take to reduce the number of shootings, increase the safety of our officers, and maintain a high level of public trust.”
Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes in a letter to law enforcement partners
You can read the letter sent from the AG’s office here.
Scott Carver, Director of Training for the AG, is overseeing the evaluation along with the Police Officer Standards and Training, or POST, and the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice.
According to Carver, the best thing people can do when approached by a police officer is to listen and follow the directions being given.
The Salt Lake Tribune recently covered the action being taken by the AG office. You can find that article below.