COMMENTARY: New Mexican families are struggling. And too often, after they’ve been victimized by a bad actor, they find themselves re-victimized by special interests and an unresponsive government bureaucracy.
The status quo has failed. I was elected to reform this system with culturally and geographically sensitive measures to protect New Mexican families from violent crime, perpetrators who prey on children, or businesses or individuals that prey on vulnerable communities.
With New Mexico’s economy on the brink, it is shocking that the CEO of a community organization — one that claims to carry the mission of protecting our communities — would spread misinformation to attack efforts at reform. As someone who has investigated and prosecuted crimes against children and public corruption, I want to correct the record and provide some much-needed truth to the communities I care about.
When I took office, I swept aside the old approaches that allowed consumer complaints to languish in layers of bureaucracy. The new family-centric model has strengthened our consumer protection programming in three crucial ways.
First, we replaced outdated methods with a rapid-response system that engages families within 72 hours and gets them results within 30 days. In a single month — October 2016 — our dedicated advocates returned $50,083.58 to New Mexican families.
Second, we implemented an empowerment-and-education model that gives families the tools to recognize and avoid potentially deceptive business practices. Our advocates offer free, consumer-specific outreach workshops focused on topics ranging from financial literacy to buying used cars, and staying safe online. These consumer services are integrated with other divisions to provide multiple services to families in need.
Third, because we created a family-centric model, we can pursue more timely and robust investigations and enforcement actions against larger corporations. When New Mexican families have been treated unfairly, our attorneys do not shy away from taking on the most powerful corporations in the world. These fights have resulted in real recovery to New Mexican families, to the tune of millions of dollars in restitution and penalties.
These reforms put families first, focusing on empowerment and timely results. The outcome is a safer and more prosperous New Mexico, where families are empowered to protect themselves, have advocates in their corner when they need assistance, and are less likely to be victimized by unfair and deceptive business practices.
New Mexico communities cannot prosper until they are safe. I am proud of the work we are doing on behalf of New Mexican families, empowering them for success today and in the future.
Hector Balderas, a Democrat, is New Mexico’s attorney general.