New Attorney General Spotlight: Colorado AG-elect Phil Weiser

This blog post is one of a series of posts highlighting newly elected Attorneys General, and commenting on how their priorities may differ from their predecessors’. Click here to read the full series.

Democratic AG-elect Phil Weiser will bring a strong academic and policy background to the Colorado AG’s office in 2019, following his defeat of Republican George Brauchler by a 51.60% to 45.13% margin.  Weiser served as the Dean of the University of Colorado Law School from 2011 – 2016, and as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department under President Obama from 2009 – 2010.  Prior to his work at the Justice Department, Weiser was a professor at the University of Colorado Law School, where he authored several articles on telecommunications and competition.

During the campaign, Weiser drew contrasts with Brauchler on a variety of big picture political issues, such as climate change and campaign finance, that will not necessarily translate directly into day-to-day actions.  But Weiser did call out a number of campaign priorities that could be expected to lead to investigatory and/or enforcement activity:

  • Short-term Lending: Weiser supported a Colorado ballot initiative that restricted annual interest rates on short-term lending.  The ballot initiative was strongly approved by voters in November 2018.  We can expect that Weiser will not only work to enforce the statute arising from the ballot initiative, but also that he will scrutinize short term lenders for unfair or deceptive practices.
  • Rural Broadband: Weiser pledged that he would “actively use the AG’s office to help rural communities get better broadband.”  While it is not clear exactly what that would entail, Weiser’s interest in this issue combined with his background in telecommunications suggests that Weiser will actively regulate existing internet service providers in Colorado.  He may also weigh in on recent AG efforts in the field of net neutrality.
  • Opioids:  Weiser campaigned against what he called “irresponsible drug companies” that he alleges have contributed to the opioid epidemic.  Weiser can be expected to think expansively about legal theories and potential targets for investigation and enforcement in the opioid arena.

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