Al Franken

Senators Franken and Klobuchar Still Co-Sponsoring PIPA, but Interested in “Compromise”

According to the City Pages, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Senator Al Franken aren’t quite giving up on the Protect IP Act in the wake of Wednesday’s internet-wide protest. Instead, they say they are interested in a “compromise” that will preserve the bill.

Aaron Rupar from the City Pages calls bullshit, and so do I. Even Michele Bachmann is on the right side of this issue, while Klobuchar and Franken remain anti-internet. Then again, this isn’t Klobuchar’s first piece of anti-internet legislation.

(Representative Keith Ellison, on the other hand, actually joined in the blackout.)

FTC Responds to Senator Al Franken

Background: Minnesota debt collectors sue like crazy and manipulate the courts to land debtors in jail. The Star-Tribune’s Chris Serres tells it like it is. Senator Al Franken gets pissed and tells the FTC to get with the program.

A month later, the FTC responded to Senator Franken’s letter. In sum, the FTC’s letter reads thus: “We’re doing some stuff. But yeah, what’s going on in Minnesota doesn’t sound right. And hey, it wouldn’t hurt to add some protections to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.”

It’s kind of a weak response. I think the FTC is just hoping this goes away so it doesn’t have to do anything. It didn’t bother making concrete recommendations, for example. And the FTC’s statement that “The Demand for Disclosure contains a clear and prominent statement . . . .” Is just wishful thinking. Legal forms rarely contain clear statements of anything, and the collection forms are particularly obtuse.

Here’s hoping that Senator Franken doesn’t let this die.

Debt Collection News Roundup, Week of June 12th, 2010

This week began with a bang, in the form of the Federal Trade Commission’s report that consumer complaints about debt collection abuses have tripled. The FTC also released a report, Repairing A Broken System: Protecting Consumers in Debt Collection Litigation and Arbitration in which it criticized the one-two punch of debt collection and mandatory binding arbitration.

The New York Times popped in on Tuesday with a report that at least one New York law firm is filing 80,000 lawsuits per year, enough to put a serious strain on the New York court system. Minnesota Senator Al Franked pointed out to the Federal Trade Commission that the same sort of monkey business is going on in Minnesota, and asked the FTC to take action now and through future regulation. Minnesota legislators also promise to fix the broken debt collection system.

Update: the FTC says it is going to look into debt collectors who are jailing debtors in Minnesota. No report on whether the FTC will look into the other allegations of abuse Senator Franken mentioned.

Oh, and surprise of surprises, a Chicago debt collection law firm, stopped paying its own bills. When asked if it could borrow the money from a friend or family member, the firm had no comment.

But we didn’t even get to all the news this week. We still haven’t weighed in on the sweeping (?) financial reform that Congress finally got around to. And if you just can’t get enough debt collection news, here is a sprinkling of links on the Office of the Comptroller of Currency, which is (apparently) charged with protecting banks from state laws, and on the Military Lending Act, which isn’t actually helping members of the military escape scammers and loan-shark-sized interest rates service fees.

Al Franken: “Debt Collection Firms Abuse Minnesotans To Reap Profits”

Minnesota Senator Al Franken issued a press release today demanding that the Federal Trade Commission take action to reign in illegal debt collection activity. Here is the press release:

Update: the FTC says it is going to look into debt collectors who are jailing debtors in Minnesota. No report on whether the FTC will look into the other allegations of abuse Senator Franken mentioned.

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2008 Minnesota Candidates and Their Stance on Consumer Issues

You can almost smell the chads hanging in the air as candidates start to declare their intentions for the 2008 elections. But few are expected to put their views on consumer issues at the forefront of their campaign platform. And consumer-friendliness is rarely the exclusive province of one party or the other. After all, Republican Norm Coleman is one of the few politicians to speak out against the RIAA’s abuse of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act to sue downloaders.

But then again, Coleman does not give space to consumer issues on his “issue list” on his home page. How do the DFL candidates clamoring for his seat measure up?

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