Updated: October 2020

48th annual fundraiser (2019)

'Moving the needle for consumers'

Consumer Action celebrated 48 years of consumer advocacy successes on Oct. 16, 2019, during its cocktail awards reception in Washington, D.C., honoring FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra, consumer advocacy non-profit The Center for Auto Safety, and the consumer investigative television units Telemundo Responde/NBC Responds.

Click here for a gallery of photos taken at the event by Stephen Baranovics. Click here to view the program for this year’s event.

The theme of the anniversary was “Moving the Needle for Consumers.” Advocates and allies from the non-profit, corporate and government sectors met at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center to celebrate awardees who have made impactful, positive change in the marketplace by aggressively investigating and fearlessly combatting corporate malfeasance on behalf of all consumers.

Event chair Daniel Nestel of credit scoring company FICO welcomed guests and kicked off the first award, to The Center for Auto Safety. The national non-profit won Consumer Action’s community award for its tireless work to improve automobile safety for consumers through industry accountability, sensible regulations and issue-focused advocacy. Founded in 1970, the Center has been dedicated to improving not only vehicle safety but also automobile quality and fuel economy.

Guest presenter Bob Adler, acting chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, presented the award to Jason Levine, the Center’s executive director. Levine outlined the long history of “wins” that the Center has fought hard for, including the passage of lemon laws in every state, airbags in every vehicle and recall repairs at no cost to the consumer.

Frank Torres, director of consumer affairs and senior policy counsel at Microsoft, presented our media award to Telemundo Responde/NBC Responds. The award was accepted by a group of colleagues that included Kevin Keeshan, of NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations, and Ozzie Martinez, of Telemundo Station Group.

The NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations division launched its first consumer investigative units in 2014 across six Telemundo markets before expanding its consumer units to all NBC stations, with more Telemundo stations launching their local units every year. Working with the units’ Consumer Investigative Center team of producers tasked with responding to every incoming consumer email and call, the “Telemundo Responde/NBC Responds” units have answered more than 350,000 consumer complaints across 20 markets and collectively returned more than $35 million (and counting) to aggrieved consumers.

Attorney Sarah Bloom Raskin, formerly a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, was the guest presenter of our award to FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra, in the government category. Raskin praised Chopra as “a person of integrity who wants to fix the financial system, and believes that we can do it. We can stay true to our values—that our nation works only if every part of it is thriving.”

Commissioner Chopra has advocated for a fair and fully functioning marketplace through vigorous FTC enforcement efforts that protect families and honest companies from those that break the law. During his tenure at the FTC, he has pushed for aggressive remedies against law-breaking companies, especially repeat offenders, and has worked to reverse the FTC’s reliance on no-money, no-fault settlements.

After the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Chopra joined the Department of the Treasury to launch the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). He then served as assistant director of the CFPB, overseeing the agency’s student loan agenda. The secretary of the Treasury also appointed him to serve as the CFPB’s student loan ombudsman, a new position established in the financial reform law. In these roles, he led efforts to spur competition in the student loan financing market, developed new tools for students and student loan borrowers to make smarter decisions, and secured hundreds of millions of dollars in refunds for borrowers victimized by unlawful conduct by loan servicers, debt collectors and for-profit college chains.

Chopra later served as special adviser to the secretary of education to advance the department’s efforts to improve student loan servicing, reduce unnecessary defaults and bolster enforcement. He was also a senior fellow at the Consumer Federation of America, where he focused on consumer protection issues facing young people and military families, and a visiting fellow at the Roosevelt Institute.

“Each year our anniversary fundraiser brings much deserved attention to the efforts of the dedicated and committed advocates who have educated, empowered and watched out for consumers and the organizations that serve them,” said Ken McEldowney, Consumer Action's executive director. “This year, I’d also like to give credit and thanks to our host, Microsoft, and to the generous underwriters, donors and contributors who made this special night possible.”

Underwriters for the 2019 event were Amazon, Bank of America, Capital One, Facebook and TracFone.



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