Mark Brnovich

Last updated

Mark Brnovich
Mark Brnovich by Gage Skidmore.jpg
26th Attorney General of Arizona
Assumed office
January 5, 2015
Governor Doug Ducey
Preceded by Tom Horne
Personal details
Born (1966-11-25) November 25, 1966 (age 53)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Susan Skibba
Children2
Education Arizona State University (BA)
University of San Diego (JD)
Website Official website

Mark Brnovich (born November 25, 1966) is an American lawyer and politician from the state of Arizona who currently serves as the 26th Attorney General of Arizona. A member of the Republican Party, he was elected to the office on November 5, 2014, defeating Democratic nominee Felecia Rotellini. Brnovich advanced from the August 28, 2018 Republican primary as the top vote-getter in the state, running unopposed. Brnovich's family is originally from Montenegro. On November 6, 2018, Brnovich narrowly defeated Democrat January Contreras to be elected to a second term as attorney general. He is married to Susan Brnovich, a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. [1]

Contents

Early life and education

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Brnovich moved to Arizona at the age of two. Brnovich's mother was born in the former Yugoslavia and legally emigrated to the United States. [2] He often notes that his mother emigrated to the United States to flee communism. [3] He is Eastern Orthodox and is of Montenegrin descent. [4] [5]

Brnovich received a bachelor's degree in political science from Arizona State University and his juris doctor from the University of San Diego School of Law. [6] While at Arizona State, Brnovich was a member of Sigma Pi fraternity. [7]

Early career

Brnovich served as a member of the Army National Guard, has worked as the Director of the Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute, briefly for the Corrections Corporation of America, served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, a prosecutor with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, and Assistant Attorney General of Arizona. [6] [8] [9] He was appointed the director of the Arizona Department of Gaming in 2009. He served in the role through 2013, when he resigned to run for Attorney General of Arizona in the 2014 election. [6] He defeated incumbent Tom Horne in the August Republican Party primary election [10] and Felecia Rotellini in the general election. [11]

Political career

Brnovich personally argued in defense of the "one-person, one-vote" principle before the United States Supreme Court on December 8, 2015 in the Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission case. [12]

In May 2017, Brnovich provided the commencement speech for the University of San Diego, his alma mater. Brnovich was one of only two Republican politicians to address graduates at the universities ranked in the top 100 by U.S. News & World Report. [13]

Brnovich served as the Chairman of the Conference of Western Attorneys General, a non-partisan organization of Attorneys General from 15 western states, three Pacific territories, and 13 associate member states from 2017-2018. Brnovich chose to focus his Chair's Initiative on cyber security and data privacy. [14]

In August 2017, Brnovich was appointed to a bipartisan working group of state attorneys general titled "Protecting America's Seniors: Attorneys General United Against Elder Abuse." The National Association of Attorneys General presidential initiative was established to focus on strengthening efforts nationwide to combat elder abuse. [15]

In December 2017, Brnovich was recognized by the Arizona Capitol Times as a "Leader of the Year" in the category of Public Safety. In recognizing Brnovich, the Capitol Times stated: "But it's his non-political work in the area of law enforcement and consumer protection and advocacy that is earning Brnovich a lot of praise. In addition to going after fraudsters and scammers, Brnovich has zeroed in on the opioid epidemic, busting suspected opioid rings and in a bold move, charging a major manufacturer of the drug of deceptive practices designed to reap profits at patients' expense." [16]

Notable actions as attorney general

Dismissal of frivolous Americans with Disability Act lawsuits

In August 2016 the Arizona Attorney General's office took action in Maricopa County Superior Court and filed to intervene in over 1,000 lawsuits from an "advocacy" group that flooded courts with "copy and paste" disability access lawsuits targeting mostly small businesses. [17] By intervening, the Attorney General's office made itself a part of the cases and argued that group, "Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities," exceeded their legal authority and that the group was not allowed to collect fees on these types of lawsuits. A judge agreed to allow the Attorney General's office to intervene and consolidated the cases while also preventing Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities from filing new lawsuits in September 2016. [18] In December of that year the office filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuits. A judge granted the Attorney General's office request in February 2017, dismissing over 1,000 of the lawsuits. [19] After the successful action by his office, Brnovich remarked: "Arizona is not going to tolerate serial litigators who try to shake down small hardworking businesses by exploiting the disability community." [19]

Lawsuit against the Arizona Board of Regents over tuition cost

On September 8, 2017, Brnovich sued the Arizona Board of Regents, saying the entity in charge of setting tuition for Arizona universities had "dramatically and unconstitutionally" increased tuition and fees over the last 15 years. In the lawsuit, Brnovich said the Board of Regents had "abandoned its duty to serve as a check on the university presidents" by allowing an "unprecedented series of lockstep tuition hikes" that violates the state's constitutional mandate requiring tuition for in-state students at college to be "as nearly free as possible." [20]

The constitutionality challenge included an additional charge against the Board of Regents for continuing to provide in-state tuition for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient students. A state Court of Appeal previously ruled in June 2017 [21] that DACA students don't have "lawful immigration status" and therefore don't qualify for in-state tuition because of a 2006 voter-approved measure that prohibits in-state tuition and financial aid for undocumented college students. [22]

On April 9, 2018 the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in a 7-0 decision that state colleges and universities could no longer provide in-state tuition to individuals who were covered under DACA. [23] That same day, the Arizona Board of Regents announced that they would no longer be providing in-state tuition for DACA students in upcoming semesters. [24]

$4.65 million dollar consumer fraud settlement with Theranos, Inc.

In April 2017, Brnovich announced that every Arizonan who had obtained a blood test from Theranos, Inc. between 2013 and 2016 in the state would receive a full refund as a result of a $4.65 million dollar consumer settlement with the Attorney General's Office. [25] Theranos was sued under the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act, including specific allegations that the company's advertisements misrepresented the accuracy and reliability of the more than 1.5 million blood tests sold during that period. [26] Theranos was also banned from owning, operating or directing a lab in Arizona for two years as a result of the settlement. In December 2017, checks were distributed to more than 76,000 Arizonans who received a full refund, with an average refund per customer of $60.92. [27]

$6.28 million dollar consumer fraud settlement with General Motors

In March 2018, the state announced that a consumer fraud settlement had been reached with General Motors ("GM") that would pay an additional $6.28 million in payments to Arizona consumers as part of claims related to GM's installation of faulty ignition switches. [28] The settlement impacts 33,000 Arizonans who purchased certain cars between 2009 and 2014. According to Brnovich, Arizona was the first state to obtain restitution directly for consumers as part of a settlement with GM related to faulty ignition switch claims. [29] GM previously settled claims with 49 other states, but Arizona filed their own lawsuit focusing on consumer restitution. Under that lawsuit, Arizona would have received $2 million and the money would not have gone to consumers. [30] [29]

$40 million dollar consumer fraud lawsuit with Volkswagen

In May 2018, Brnovich announced that Volkswagen agreed to settle a consumer fraud lawsuit with the State of Arizona for $40 million dollars over its diesel emissions scandal. The settlement directed $10.5 million to Arizona consumers who had purchased certain Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche vehicles for restitution, $20 million to the state's budget to help fund K-12 education, and the remaining money for consumer protection and enforcement purposes. [31] Arizona is the only state to obtain additional restitution on behalf of consumers as a result state enforcement actions. [32]

Lawsuit over in-state tuition for DACA recipients

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled 7-0 on April 9, 2018 that state colleges and universities could no longer provide in-state tuition to individuals who were covered under the DACA program. In doing so, the Court upheld a legal challenge initiated by former Attorney General Tom Horne and continued by Brnovich against the Maricopa County Community College District. The ruling applies to all community colleges and universities within the state. In their decision, the justices upheld a previous 3-0 decision from the Arizona Court of Appeals that said the state hadn't explicitly granted in-state tuition to DACA recipients and that the colleges policy was against Arizona law. [23] Specifically, Proposition 300, a 2006 law passed by Arizona voters with 71.4% of the vote that stipulates state-funded services and benefits such as in-state tuition cannot not be provided to individuals without legal status. [33]

Disability access lawsuits investigations

According to Legal Newsline, Brnovich has targeted scammers to protect small businesses in Arizona. He shut down an unscrupulous attorney named Peter Strojnik who was "filing dubious disability access lawsuits against small businesses." [34] After Brnovich's investigation, Arizona law was changed to ensure those types of scams won’t happen again. [34] According to published reports, the attorney general's office discovered another 9,000 Americans with Disability Act lawsuits Strojnik was preparing to file against Arizona businesses. [35]

Data privacy investigation of Google

On September 11, 2018, The Washington Post reported that Brnovich was investigating Google for its alleged practice of recording consumers' tracking data even after a consumer opted out of the location tracking function. [36]

Lawsuit against Arizona State University and Arizona Board of Regents for hotel land deal

In January of 2019, Attorney General Brnovich filed a lawsuit against Arizona State University (ASU) and the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) over what he alleged was an illegal real estate deal. Brnovich later amended his lawsuit in April of that same year claiming violations of the Arizona Constitution's Gift Clause. [37] The project at hand is a planned Omni Hotel and conference center at the corner of University and Mill, one of the busiest intersections in downtown Tempe. The controversy involves ASU providing a longterm lease of its tax exempt government land to the Omni for the building of a new hotel and conference center with an option to buy the property for $10 after 60 years. The attorney general contends that by removing the property from the tax rolls everyone else in the taxing district (including cities, the county, K-12 schools and community colleges) will be forced to make up the difference in tax collections. He also intends that the practice is illegal because ASU is a government entity and therefore can not "lend" its tax-exempt status to a private corporation. [38] Representatives from ABOR and ASU have defended the practice saying they collect a payment from the hotel in lieu of taxes and that extra money helps the school general much needed revenue. [39]

Electoral history

Arizona Attorney General Republican primary election, 2014
PartyCandidateVotes%
RepublicanMark Brnovich279,85553.74
RepublicanTom Horne (inc.)240,85846.26
Arizona Attorney general election, 2014
PartyCandidateVotes%
RepublicanMark Brnovich782,36152.91
DemocraticFelecia Rotellini696,05447.07
Write-inAnthony Camboni2650.02
Arizona Attorney General Republican primary election, 2018
PartyCandidateVotes%
RepublicanMark Brnovich (unopposed)561,370100.00
Arizona Attorney general election, 2018
PartyCandidateVotes%
RepublicanMark Brnovich1,201,39851.7
DemocraticJanuary Contreras1,120,72648.3

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References

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Legal offices
Preceded by
Tom Horne
Attorney General of Arizona
2015–present
Incumbent