[co-author: Stephanie Kozol]*
Connecticut Attorney General (AG) William Tong, along with Illinois, New Hampshire, and Tennessee AGs, jointly authored a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urging improved collaboration with state AGs.
Dated August 14, the AGs’ comment letter was prompted by the FTC Collaboration Act of 2021, which directed the FTC to “conduct a study on facilitating and refining existing efforts with State Attorneys General to prevent, publicize, and penalize frauds and scams being perpetrated on individuals in the United States” and to provide the opportunity for public comment. According to a statement by California AG Rob Bonta, who signed the AGs’ letter, the communication was a response to the FTC’s June 7 publication of a request seeking information from the public on ways that the agency “can work more effectively with state attorneys general nationwide to help educate consumers about, and protect them from, potential fraud.”
The letter highlights how the FTC and state AGs have historically worked together in the enforcement of consumer protection laws, and discusses the potential advantages from enhancing that collaboration. The letter also notes that the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2021 decision, in AMG Capital Management, LLC v. Federal Trade Commission, rejecting the FTC’s authority to seek consumer restitution under Section 13(b) of the FTC Act, has “negatively impacted the agency’s ability to obtain consumer redress.” The letter further states, regarding joint federal/state enforcement, that “[w]here one party of the collaboration cannot obtain restitution for harmed consumers, this type of collaborative enforcement can become less effective.”
Tong’s announcement of the letter provides that “‘t]he FTC will use the comments to prepare a report to Congress recommending best practices to enhance collaboration between the FTC and state attorneys general; quantifiable metrics to assess such enhanced collaboration; and any legislative initiatives needed to promote such collaboration.”
Illinois AG Kwame Raoul, New Hampshire AG John Formella, and Tennessee AG Jonathan Skrmetti joined Tong in authoring the letter. Other signatories included the AGs of American Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Why It Matters
The letter highlights state AGs’ ongoing efforts to collaborate with the FTC in enforcing state and federal consumer protection laws and potentially presages greater federal-state coordination in this arena.
*Senior Government Relations Manager