FRANKFORT — On Jan. 4, I put my hand on my family Bible and was sworn in as Kentucky’s 50th Attorney General.
I pledged that day to pursue a four-part mission of prosecuting and preventing child abuse, protecting our seniors from scams and abuse, seeking justice for victims of rape and finding workable solutions to our drug epidemic.
Six months later, I am pleased at the progress my office has made in these areas, as well as the significant sums of money we have saved taxpayers and the bold steps we have taken to protect consumers.
In the area of child abuse, our office is on pace to triple the number of child sex offenders we remove from your communities. In six months, we have caught or convicted more than 24 offenders, and have assisted on an additional 28 human trafficking arrests, including one where we rescued a 14-year-old girl.
Along with First Lady Glenna Bevin, we launched the most comprehensive set of statewide child sexual abuse prevention trainings this state has ever seen. A nationally renowned expert, Cory Jewell Jensen, noted that no state has shown our level of commitment to protecting its children.
One of my proudest moments in our first 180 days involved our work to serve justice for rape victims.
In early May, we transferred $4.5 million in settlement funds to the Kentucky State Police Crime Lab. This money will hire and train new staff and purchase the necessary equipment so our state never has a rape kit backlog ever again. While the funds from our office will ensure there is never a future problem, we are also hard at work in addressing the current backlog, as our victims have waited far too long for justice.
To better protect our seniors, we have made great strides.
We launched Scam Alerts, Kentucky’s first direct text/email scam warning system. In just one month, we have signed up more than 2,000 Kentuckians who are now protected through regular updates on the newest or most popular scams.
The office also expanded the elder abuse hotline (877-ABUSE-TIP ) to operate 24-hours a day, seven days a week. We joined our U.S. Attorneys in creating one of only 10 Elder Justice Task Forces in the country, and we have prosecuted numerous individuals for physically abusing our seniors.
We also took action against fake charities, reaching a settlement against the Cancer Funds of America that represented the largest civil action ever against a sham charity.
In addressing our drug epidemic, I have been blessed to travel the state providing nearly $8 million in settlement funds to recovery centers working to help our friends, family members and neighbors suffering from addiction.
This money will mean more beds for pregnant women who want to give birth to healthy babies; more days of treatment for those who need it the most; and specialized care to our children and young adults.
We further provided $2 million in settlement funds to support the “rocket docket” that moves users quickly into treatment.
On the national level, I am working to shut down pill pipelines from other states through both direct action and by serving as a co-chair of the National Association of Attorneys General’s Substance Abuse Committee.
Fulfilling our other duties, I am proud that in our first six months, the Office of Attorney General has:
• Recovered and returned more than $8 million in Medicaid fraud to the state;
• Saved Kentuckians more than $40 million in pending utility bill increases;
• Agreed to settle a lawsuit we brought against Volkswagen, potentially resulting in $100 million for impacted Kentuckians and the Commonwealth;
• Taken action on cemeteries that do not honor contracts or treat their grounds with the dignity our ancestors deserve; and
• Prosecuted numerous public officials who have crossed the line.
While these steps might not be the stories that dominate the headlines, we are doing good work every day toward our mission to serve and protect all Kentuckians – the reason I wanted to be Attorney General.
In the first six months, I am proud of our work and look forward to the many more programs and protections we can put into place to help all our citizens.