Welcome to the Public Rights Project Newsletter! Each month, we’ll keep you up to date with our efforts to empower states and cities to protect the rights and freedoms that define us as Americans. We’ll also share a few articles you may have missed that highlight the importance of state and local government, and how states and cities are picking up the torch to protect our rights.
UPDATES FROM PUBLIC RIGHTS PROJECT
ANNOUNCING JOANNA PEARL AS PUBLIC RIGHTS PROJECT'S LEGAL DIRECTOR
We are thrilled to welcome Joanna Pearl to our team as Legal Director! Joanna was a founding member of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office of Enforcement after serving on the team tasked with creating the agency in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. She served as Chief of Staff for the Enforcement Office at the CFPB for six years and later became Acting Principal Deputy Enforcement Director in 2016.
As our new Legal Director, Joanna is currently working on legal research and strategic engagement for Public Rights Project and our legal partners. Between developing an affirmative litigation toolkit to creating a data analysis prototype and resource guides, it’s been a busy (and productive) first month on the job!
FIRST PUBLIC RIGHTS PROJECT BOARD MEETING
At the beginning of February, Public Rights Project convened its first board meeting in New Haven, Connecticut. With the help of our esteemed Board Members - Yale Law School Dean Heather Gerken, Former New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey, and LA2028 General Counsel Brian Nelson - we ironed out details for our much-anticipated inaugural Spring Fellowship launch, discussed ongoing and future strategic partnerships, and brainstormed ideas for new groundbreaking legal projects. Special thanks to the Board and to Open Society Foundations for joining us in New Haven!
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...
CALIFORNIA OFFICIALS VOW TO BLOCK TRUMP PLAN FOR MORE COASTAL DRILLING
California officials said they will block the federal government from transporting oil using existing or new pipelines, a move that would disrupt President Trump’s plan to expand drilling off the state’s coast. Trump’s calls for more domestic drilling have received bipartisan pushback from governors of coastal states, including Gov. Jerry Brown.
Read more via SF Chronicle
STATES OPPOSE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION EFFORT TO ADD CITIZENSHIP QUESTION TO US CENSUS
The Department of Justice has proposed adding a citizenship question to the census in order to protect against racial discrimination in voting. However, opponents of adding a question say it will discourage participation in the census by immigrants, those who entered legally and illegally. The census is required by law to count every person living in each state, regardless of legal status. A total of 19 attorneys general and the Colorado governor co-authored a letter urging Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross not to include a question about citizenship on the U.S. 2020 census.
Read more here
MONEYLION SETTLES VIRGINIA PROBE INTO OVERCHARGES, LICENSING
An affiliate of MoneyLion Inc, a New York-based online lending platform and savings app, will pay more than $2.7 million to settle charges by Virginia’s attorney general that it offered improperly costly loans to that state’s residents, while falsely claiming it was licensed to do so.
The settlement announced on Wednesday calls for MoneyLion of Virginia LLC to give up $2.35 million of interest charged to 2,639 consumers, refund $359,812 to 1,161 consumers whose payments bore interest rates topping 12 percent, and pay a $10,000 civil fine plus $20,000 to cover costs.
Read more via Reuters
CALIFORNIA STEPS IN TO OVERSEE POLICE REFORM AFTER TRUMP ADMINISTRATION PULLS OUT
California’s top lawyer announced Monday he will monitor reforms at the San Francisco Police Department, replacing recently ended federal oversight and crafting a new path for state officials to become law enforcement watchdogs after the Trump administration last year drastically cut federal investigations of troubled agencies. The move comes after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions last spring changed Department of Justice policy to largely end the kind of civil rights investigations of law enforcement that have been a driving force behind police reforms across the country, whether through consent decrees or voluntary action. California is one of only two states that has intervened in police cases since 2016.
Read more via SacBee