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. And according to Racine, state attorneys general are ready to lean in on enforcement and step up.
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 state attorney general, but it’s extremely important to do so when your company doesn’t have an investigation pending. These meetings are an opportunity to share ideas with them about inefficiencies in the regulation process and to update them on changes in the industry. Racine says that this is how attorney generals have learned so much about certain industries to benefit both 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, 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 an 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 business savvy advice for direct response marketers: talk to people before you launch something. He says that businesses should make sure they have a relationship with the people who are going to be scrutinizing their 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
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.