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Statement: May 15, 2008 Print this page
Docket Nos: PL08-3-000, PL08-2-000, RM08-8-000 and RM08-10-000

Commissioner Wellinghoff's statement on enforcement package

"Mr. Chairman, as you and I have both stated many times, the Commission is, first and foremost, a consumer protection agency. All of us also agree that simply stating that fact is not sufficient. Effective enforcement of our governing statutes, regulations, and orders is essential to fulfilling that mission.

The Congress recognized the importance of enforcement in 2005, when it substantially bolstered our civil penalty authority. As I stated at our Enforcement Conference last November, I have heard from many consumer groups that are more confident in the ability of the Commission to provide adequate protection for consumers, now that the Commission has the authority to impose meaningful penalties for actions that may harm consumers.

One theme that emerged at our Enforcement Conference is that some aspects of our enforcement policies were not well understood. For example, there appeared to be confusion about the timing and manner for the subject of an investigation to submit materials directly to the Commission during the course of that investigation.

Confusion about our enforcement policies does not help parties that may be subject to investigation, and it does not help consumers who are the ultimate beneficiaries of those policies.

Today's package of orders should eliminate much of that confusion. Among other matters, we announce a policy on investigation-related communications between the subject of an investigation and the commissioners and our assistants. We also instruct our Enforcement Staff to release annual statistical reports summarizing the Commission's enforcement activities for the preceding year. These changes will provide more transparency in our enforcement process.

I would like to thank the team for its work on these orders. I also would like to commend our Enforcement Staff for its work to protect consumers. Today's package of orders will further strengthen our consumer protection efforts. I am pleased to vote for these orders."

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