This is the seventh part in our 2023 series examining important trends in white collar law and investigations. Up next: crypto enforcement.
2023 promises historic change for the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General with Andrea Campbell sworn in as the new Attorney General earlier this year. Andrea Campbell ran a campaign on the idea that the Attorney General’s office is uniquely suited to help in uplifting the underrepresented and her first month in office has signaled she intends to prioritize those groups. In her inaugural address on January 18, 2023, she outlined her priorities for her first term focusing on the theme that had come to define her candidacy. Her historic inauguration speech focused on how she will hold the powerful accountable, create economic prosperity and stability for families, prioritize the mental health and well-being of young people and bring the community into that work to make the office more accessible to people across Massachusetts regardless of income, language, zip code or ability.
This post previews what we can expect in the coming year under the Office’s new direction, namely a renewed focus on big topics like elder care; reproductive justice, gun safety, and access to education as well as a continued focus on the opioid crisis, labor violations, and healthcare.
The Elder Justice and Reproductive Justice Units
While campaigning, Attorney General Campbell vowed to form the Elder Justice Unit and Reproductive Justice Unit. Her vision was for these units to use the tools of the Office to protect Massachusetts elders from hardship caused by unequal access to health care, deceptive business practices, and fraud and to protect and expand the right to access safe and legal abortion and reproductive care throughout the Commonwealth.
On her first day in office, Attorney General Campbell reiterated those vows and she has stayed true to her promise, already launching a reproductive-focused hotline – a free and confidential resource to connect Massachusetts-based health care providers, helpers, and patients obtaining care in Massachusetts with free legal advice and resources about abortion access and care. We expect a similar focus on Elder Justice is not far behind.
Gun safety has been a prominent focus in Attorney General Campbell’s first month in office. In less than a month in the Office, Attorney General Campbell has filed back-to-back briefs in support of common sense gun laws in Massachusetts. The first brief, filed in the First Circuit Court of Appeals, argues that Massachusetts handgun safety regulations do not violate the second amendment. The second brief, filed in the District of Massachusetts opposes a request for temporary injunction for a law that would ban the sale and possession of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. The Massachusetts Attorney General also signed on to support gun laws in New York, joining a multistate coalition of 18 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in support of New York’s law prohibiting the carrying of firearms in places of worship and religious observation.
Attorney General Campbell has further signaled that she will be proactive in gun safety legislation. Most recently, she signed on to support Massachusetts state legislation to strengthen laws prohibiting the purchase, possession and use of silencers by amending the definition to mirror federal law. Gun safety was a major issue in Attorney General Campbell’s campaign and it is likely to remain a top priority as she begins her term in office.
Access to Education
Attorney General Campbell’s campaign promised to “fight to ensure that all students have access to high-quality public education regardless of geography or income.” Her first days in office show execution on that promise. Indeed, Attorney General Campbell has already taken significant steps toward ensuring access to education, marking herself a leader in this sphere by announcing earlier this month that she would co-lead a coalition in support of a federal proposal to create a more affordable repayment plan for student loan borrowers. The coalition of 24 state attorneys general has since submitted comments to the Department of Education’s Income-Driven Repayment Program. That plan enables borrowers to make payments based on income and family size and offers the possibility of loan forgiveness after 20 to 25 years of qualifying payments. Supporting this plan is consistent with Attorney General’s Campbell’s campaign promise to combat “predatory student loan practices that lead to burdensome debt and destroyed the credit ratings of individuals and families.” Attorney General Campbell’s steps toward access to education are taken on the heels of action by Massachusetts leadership earlier this year to secure a victory for student loan debt relief. On January 11, then Acting Massachusetts Attorney General Dewar led a group of 22 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in support of the Biden administration’s targeted cancellation of student loan debt to address the continuing effects of COVID.
Opioid Crisis, Labor Violations, and Healthcare
Attorney General Campbell’s first month in office also saw a recommitment to labor violations, healthcare fraud, and combating illegal drugs, issues that were prioritized by prior Massachusetts attorneys general and on which Campbell also ran on. For example, in the labor space, earlier this month, the Office issued eight citations against USA Management LLC, a Georgia company that operates pool repair and lifeguard services to clients in Massachusetts for labor violations. The Office also joined a coalition calling for the federal government to set standards to occupational heat exposure to protect workers. 
With respect to healthcare fraud, the Office announced a settlement with a Taunton-based Mental Health Center, settling allegations of that the company submitted false claims to MassHealth for services provided by improperly supervised clinicians. In its press release announcing the settlement, Attorney General Campbell not only announced the resolution, but also issued a statement about the urgent need to address the mental health and behavioral health crisis facing Massachusetts.
On illegal drugs, in January, the Attorney General’s New England Fentanyl Strike Force recovered 522 grams of fentanyl and $20,000 in cash. The press release announcing the success of the Strike Force further reiterated the Attorney General Office’s commitment to combatting the opioid crisis in the Commonwealth.
Looking forward, we can expect to see a continuation of the efforts we have already seen Attorney General Campbell’s office prioritize, such as workers’ rights, reproductive rights, elder care and mental health, gun safety and access to education. Given her now proven track record of making good on campaign promises, onlookers should be on the lookout for Attorney General Campbell’s office to take action on other issues she stressed on the campaign trail such as protecting immigrant communities and the LGBTQ communities through the use of anti-discrimination and civil rights laws, prioritizing the environment and combatting climate change through actions aimed at industries which historically contributed to these problems, protecting consumers against unfair and deceptive practices in developing industries including app-based services, and promoting affordable housing by investigating “digital redlining” by technology companies that sell discriminatory products. We will be sure to keep you updated on any developments in these areas.
 Press Release, Office of the Attorney General, Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell Outlines Priorities in Historic Inaugural Address, https://www.mass.gov/news/attorney-general-andrea-joy-campbell-outlines-priorities-in-historic-inaugural-address (Jan. 18, 2023).
 Press Release, Office of the Attorney General, AG Campbell, Abortion Advocates and Law Firms Launch ‘Abortion Legal Hotline’ Amidst Unprecedented Legal Questions Following Dobbs Decision, https://www.mass.gov/news/ag-campbell-abortion-advocates-and-law-firms-launch-abortion-legal-hotline-amidst-unprecedented-legal-questions-following-dobbs-decision (Jan. 30, 2023)
 Press Release, Office of the Attorney General, AG Campbell Files Briefs in Support of Common Sense Gun Laws, https://www.mass.gov/news/ag-campbell-files-briefs-in-support-of-common-sense-gun-laws (Feb. 3, 2023).
 That case is Granata v. Campbell, No. 22-1478 (1st Cir).
 That case is National Association for Gun Rights v. Campbell, 22-cv-11431-FDS (D. Mass).
 Press Release, Office of the Attorney General, AG Andrea Joy Campbell Joins Coalition in Support of New York Law Banning Guns in Places of Worship, https://www.mass.gov/news/ag-andrea-joy-campbell-joins-coalition-in-support-of-new-york-law-banning-guns-in-places-of-worship (Jan. 27, 2023).
 On the Issues: Equal Access to Quality Education, Andrea Campbell: Attorney General, https://www.andreacampbell. org/issues/education/.
 Press Release, Office of the Attorney General, AG’s Office Cites Georgia-Based Lifeguard Services Company for Labor Violations, Secures $70,000 in Restitution for Workers, https://www.mass.gov/news/ags-office-cites-georgia-based-lifeguard-services-company-for-labor-violations-secures-70000-in-restitution-for-workers (Feb. 10, 2023).
 Press Release, Office of the Attorney General, AG Campbell Joins Coalition Calling for Emergency Federal Heat Exposure Standard to Protect Workers, https://www.mass.gov/news/ag-campbell-joins-coalition-calling-for-emergency-federal-heat-exposure-standard-to-protect-workers (Feb. 14, 2023).
 Press Release, Office of the Attorney General, Former Owners of Taunton-Based Mental Health Centers To Pay $940,000 to Masshealth in Settlement, https://www.mass.gov/news/former-owners-of-taunton-based-mental-health-centers-to-pay-940000-to-masshealth-in-settlement (Feb. 13, 2023).
 Press Release, Office of the Attorney General, Boston Man Arrested and Charged in Fentanyl Takedown, https://www.mass.gov/news/boston-man-arrested-and-charged-in-fentanyl-takedown/ (Jan. 27, 2023).