Dustin McDaniel (D)
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Legal Newsline)- Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is issuing more than two dozen subpoenas to gasoline retailers who allegedly raised their prices as Hurricane Ike made its way to the Gulf Coast, the Democrat said Tuesday.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel told Legal Newsline his office has received thousands of complaints by phone, e-mail and text message.
McDaniel said his office set up a special e-mail address to receive consumer complaints about suspected price gouging. He said some gas stations raised their prices $1.25 overnight.
"We got a BlackBerry here in the office to receive texts and e-mail, and asked people to help us sort through the rumors and facts, and as they see price increases to snap pictures with their cell phones and either e-mail or text them to us," McDaniel said.
"It was a huge success," he added. "People felt empowered to do something."
The attorney general's office said if they find evidence that the gas stations gouged consumers, the AG will seek restitution and civil penalties. The companies have 20 days to respond to the subpoenas once they are served.
As for filling stations that kept prices in check, McDaniel said he "applauds" them for have "demonstrated restraint and some good judgment."
Gov. Mike Beebe on Friday declared a state of emergency for the entire state, which put into effect an anti-price gouging statute. The same day, McDaniel urged Arkansans to send his office
documentation of suspected price gouging in anticipation of the storm.
AAA reported that gas prices have risen 18 cents since Hurricane Ike made landfall last weekend. The automotive group's survey released Tuesday found that nationwide the average price of a gallon of unleaded regular rose 1.2 cents to $3.854 a gallon.
Alabama is among 12 states that reported gas prices above $4 a gallon. The other states are: Alaska, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at firstname.lastname@example.org.