New Mexico AG picks "price-gouging" as first big issue

Legal News Line Jan. 3, 2007, 7:32am

Incoming New Mexico attorney general Gary King

SANTA FE -- Incoming New Mexico Attorney General Gary King, a Democrat, has wasted no time jumping onto his first populist issue. King has targeted as his initial media splash alleged price-gouging by motels and other businesses during last week's severe winter storm that dumped one-to-two feet of snow onto the Albuquerque and Santa Fe areas. The storm closed roads, canceled flights and forced many travelers to seek emergency accommodation. King said his office received "numerous complaints" that motels in the Albuquerque area had raised prices during the storm, according to the Associated Press. He also is encouraging people who believe they were price-gouging victims to file complaints on his web-site. King took over for two-term Democrat Patricia Madrid, an ex-trial lawyer and staunch ally of the trial bar. She lost a challenge to U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson in November. In September 2005, Madrid also spoke out against "price gouging" related to Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast, vowing to "prosecute anyone who would take unfair advantage of consumers because of a national emergency or natural disaster." She called for an "anti-price gouging law" but the New Mexico legislature demurred.

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