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Special Litigation & Charities
What We Do

The Special Litigation Department represents the Governor, the Judicial Branch, the General Assembly, the Secretary of the State, the Treasurer, the Comptroller, the Auditors, the State Elections Enforcement Commission, the State Ethics Commission, the State Properties Review Board, the Judicial Review Council, the Judicial Selection Commission, the Office of Protection and Advocacy for Handicapped and Developmentally Disabled Persons, the Accountancy Board, the Office of the Child Advocate, the Commission on Children, and the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission.  In addition, through its Public Charities Unit, the Department protects the public interest in gifts, bequests and devises for charitable purposes; and in cooperation with the Department of Consumer Protection, administers and enforces state laws regulating charities and professional fundraisers who solicit from the public.

With respect to public charities, it is clear that the State’s citizens must have confidence that their gifts to charity will be used as intended and not misused by those who would prey on the philanthropic instincts of the public. Therefore, Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-125 provides that the Attorney General “shall represent the public interest in the protection of any gifts, legacies or devises intended for public or charitable purposes.”  In  order to fulfill this mandate, the Public Charities Unit monitors solicitations by charitable organizations and provides information to members of the public to assist them in making informed decisions on charitable giving.  The Public Charities Unit has two objectives with respect to fund-raising by charities:  (1) to ensure that assets raised for charitable purposes are, to the maximum extent possible, used for the charitable purposes intended by the donors, and (2) to ensure that the public has access to accurate information they can reasonably use to aid them in their gift-giving decisions.

Currently, 7,900 charities, and 91 professional fundraisers are registered with the State.  However, of $13.9 million donated to professional telephone solicitors for charitable organizations in 2002 only $4.5 million, or 32.4% of the total money collected, was actually turned over to the organizations to which the donor thought they were giving.  The Department makes this information available to the public so individuals can make informed decisions on contributing to charities.

The Special Litigation Department also represents the interests of the people of the State in matters before the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the United States Department of the Interior and in litigation involving land claims brought by groups claiming Indian ancestry.  The Department is actively involved in reviewing, researching and responding to petitions filed by a number of groups currently seeking federal recognition, including the Golden Hill Paugussetts, the Eastern Pequots and the Paucatuck Eastern Pequots, the Hassanamisco Nipmucs and the Schaghticokes.  The Department has been litigating a federal court action against the United States Department of the Interior to ensure that the Bureau of Indian Affairs conducts its recognition proceedings in a fundamentally fair manner.  The Department also provides advice and counsel to numerous State agencies regarding issues of Indian law.

The Special Litigation Department is involved in administrative and judicial proceedings initiated under the State’s environmental protection laws in order to protect the Long Island Sound, and other critical resources, from harms resulting from ill-conceived energy projects, including the installation and operation of the Cross-Sound electric cable and the Islander East natural gas pipeline.  Additionally, the Department has actively pursued several court and administrative actions related to nuclear safety issues involving the Indian Point Nuclear Power Station located in Buchanan, New York, which is within eleven miles of Fairfield County, Connecticut.

Finally, the Department plays a leading role in the preparation of appeals throughout the entire Office.  The Department’s attorneys briefed and/or argued a number of significant cases in the State Appellate Court, and the State Supreme Court, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court.