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December 29, 2005

The Attorney General as extortionist

This kind of stuff sends chills down my spine:

Illinois State Attorney General Lisa Madigan asked 18 operators whose prices jumped significantly after Hurricane Katrina to donate $1,000 to the American Red Cross or risk a potential consumer fraud lawsuit, reports the Chicago Tribune.

If I ran a gas station I would take this deal. It is a lot cheaper than mounting any legal defense. But the whole idea of threatening businesses in this way bothers me. Plea bargains may be useful tools in the messy struggle for justice but this is a lot more like extortion. You haven't been charged, you aren't admitting guilt, there may not have even been a crime. But the AG can make it sound bad in the press and will fall on you like a ton of bricks if you don't pay up.

"If you don't want something bad to happen to your business, send a check for $1,000 to this address."

Coyote Blog, where I found the link, addresses this well, so head there for the full treatment.

Posted by Bob Pritchett at December 29, 2005 6:13 AM

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