Attorney General Bob Ferguson has shared two major announcements in the past two weeks—one regarding the creation of an internal Organized Retail Crime Unit and the other concerning his intention to run for governor in 2024.
Last week, Ferguson declared that the Legislature fully funded his request for a centralized Organized Retail Crime Unit within the Attorney General’s Office. This 10-member unit will consist of investigators, prosecutors, and a data analyst and will focus on coordinating, investigating, and prosecuting multi-jurisdictional retail crime statewide.
The Organized Retail Crime Unit will collaborate with Ferguson’s Organized Retail Crimes Task Force, established in 2022, which includes representatives from state, local, and federal law enforcement, small and large businesses, and retail workers. The funding will begin on July 1, enabling the Task Force to continue its efforts.
Various stakeholders, including Bellevue Police Chief Wendell Shirley, Washington Retail Association President and CEO Renée Sunde, United Food and Commercial Workers 3000 President Faye Guenther, and Issaquah Mayor Mary Lou Pauly, have expressed their support for the creation of the Organized Retail Crime Unit. They acknowledge the importance of a coordinated, statewide approach in addressing this growing issue, which affects public safety, the retail industry, and workers across Washington.
In another significant development this week, Ferguson announced his decision to run for Washington State Governor in 2024. He has launched an exploratory committee and plans to spend the next few weeks traveling across Washington, meeting with tribal governments, business leaders, and elected officials, and attending public appearances and house parties. Ferguson, a Democrat, will begin his trip in Eastern Washington. Ferguson’s announcement came just one day after current Governor Jay Inslee declared he would not seek a fourth term.
During his tenure as Attorney General, which began in 2013, Ferguson has taken on several high-profile lawsuits. Among those were cases against the three largest opioid distributors—McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc., and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp.—for their negligence in the opioid epidemic. In 2022, a resolution in the case required the distributors to pay Washington state $518 million.