State and Local Governments Prepare to Fill the Consumer Regulatory Enforcement Void

Last week, the Democratic Attorneys General sent a letter to President Trump expressing concern over his choice for CFPB director, Mick Mulvaney and the future of consumer protection, more generally. As was expected, the states are preparing to take on more aggressive roles in consumer protection given the significant weakening of the CFPB. "State attorneys general have express statutory authority to enforce federal consumer protection laws, as well as the consumer protection laws of our respective states," the group said in its letter. "We will continue to enforce those laws vigorously regardless of changes to CFPB’s leadership or agenda."

The AG's aren't the only governmental unit pledging to ramp up consumer protection actions. Recently, the City of Chicago announced a plan to create an "affirmative litigation" unit – a legal team dedicated to suing companies that it believes violates the law to fill the void of the Trump administration's deregulatory and anti-enforcement stance. The unit appears to be aimed at civil law enforcement efforts, using unfair and deceptive trade practice authority to recover damages on behalf of City of Chicago citizens.

Like most government units, Chicago will face challenges in pursuing large cases. However, many state and local governments appear to be planning to enlist the help of outside law firms to aid them in their cases, a fact which will change the dynamic of litigating against traditionally resource-strapped government entities. Many commentators predicted an uptick in state regulatory and enforcement activity in 2017 as a natural response to Republican control of the federal government, and 2018 is likely to be no different.

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