Herbalife Ltd. (HLF) Protestors Gather Amid Lobbyist Probe

Today another group of people who claim Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) victimized them will file complaints with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office. Community leaders from the Illinois Herbalife Campaign are calling for Madigan’s office to formally announce that it is investigating the nutritional supplements company.

They also want the agency to call for more people to come forward and give testimonies and file complaints.

Madigan’s office said to investigate Herbalife

It was reported over the summer that the Illinois state attorney general had joined the list of other regulators and agencies in investigating Herbalife’s business practices. The Federal Trade Commission, the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the New York State Attorney General and the Dept. of Justice have all been said to be investigating the company as well (see documents below).

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However, Madigan’s office never officially announced its investigation of Herbalife, and that concerns community leaders and the alleged victims. Today they will gather at 2 p.m. Eastern (1 p.m. local time) at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago to call for the investigation to be publicly disclosed, according to an email sent to ValueWalk.

“Now more than ever, it’s important to put an end to Herbalife’s brazenly dishonest business practices,” said Olivia Hernandez, Executive Director of Centro Comunitario Juan Diego. “We need to raise awareness of the allegations against Herbalife and share the stories of the victims filing complaints today, so we can embolden others to do the same. We would hope Attorney General Madigan would join us to help our community.”

But will they be successful in getting her office to disclose the alleged investigation? There may be more factors involved in the answer to that question than many realize.

Herbalife lobbies state attorneys general

On Wednesday, The New York Times reported on its investigation into the lobbying efforts of a number of companies. Many target state attorneys general, and in some cases, the timing of the support handed out by corporations coincided with investigations into their operations. Interestingly, one of the companies The Times gave as an example was Herbalife.

Documents reviewed by The New York Times show a paper trail of communications between Herbalife and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Bondi reportedly said that they hadn’t received many complaints about the nutritional supplements company. Her office did not open an investigation into the company.

A law firm that represented Herbalife set up a meeting with Bondi’s office and the controversial company. The emails between Bondi’s office and Herbalife’s lawyers date from last October, and The New York Times reported that there were similar emails between Herbalife’s lawyers and other state attorneys general offices.

The tone of at least one of the emails is jovial in nature. In response to a request for a meeting about Herbalife, a representative from Bondi’s office wrote: “Happy to do it. Have your client bring me a herbalife [sic] weight loss kit… I have put on a few pounds, LOL, just kidding..”

Clearly the relationship between the law firm and Bondi’s representative is somewhat casual, for an email like this to be sent.

At this point it’s unclear whether Herbalife’s representation has also sought meetings with Illinois State Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office.

3-ag-bondi Herbalife Ltd. HLF