Words to the Wise From a State Attorney General to Direct Response Marketers

by Bill McClellan on Jun 22, 2017 9:41:23 AM Advocacy, Government Relations, Consumer

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In May, I wrote “The FTC Isn't the Only One Watching Direct Response Marketers.” This still holds true. State attorneys general, such as Karl A. Racine (D-DC), an up-and-coming star in the Democratic Party, and other state regulators are making enforcement waves on direct response marketers.

We were proud to host Racine at the opening reception of the 2017 Government Affairs Fly-In. He offered invaluable advice for businesses to stay ahead of the curve and build relationships with state attorneys general.

It may feel like walking into the lion’s den for some businesses to call a meeting with a local state attorney general. However, Racine hit home the importance of this meeting, especially when your company doesn’t have an investigation pending. This is an opportunity to share ideas about inefficiencies in the regulation process and to update your state attorney general on changes in the direct response industry. Racine says this is how his peers have learned a great deal about other industries to benefit consumers and businesses.

We can’t stress enough how important it is to establish yourself credibly and as a thought leader when there’s nothing on the line. However, this isn't one-sided. Racine says there’s homework for state elected attorneys general as well: to get involved in consumer protection. This is just one way they can serve their constituents.

As debt collection continues to be a looming issue on consumers, Racine says he expects Democrats and Republicans to be stepping up in a big way. One recent example of this comes directly from Racine’s Office of Consumer Protection. They have just resolved a lawsuit against debt collector, Fair Collections & Outsourcing (FCO). Under the new agreement, FCO must fully reimburse consumers who unlawfully needed to pay court costs and attorney’s fees to them. They are now prohibited from further violations of the District of Columbia’s laws on debt collection and consumer protection.

Racine wrapped up his keynote address with this advice for direct response marketers: talk to people before you launch something. It's crucial to have a relationship with the people who are going to be scrutinizing your business. And having an upfront dialogue with state attorney generals doesn’t hurt either.

State attorneys general work at the will of the people. This is something we all should keep in mind!


 About the Author

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Bill McClellan serves as ERA's Vice President of Government Affairs. Prior to joining the association, Bill worked as a lobbyist at the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association, covering the state legislature and Georgia's congressional delegation. Before working for the GADA, Bill managed political campaigns at both the congressional and state constitutional levels.

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