Madigan vs. Bean

Consumer protection squabble

By Steve Rhodes
|  Friday, Oct 16, 2009  |  Updated 3:34 PM CDT
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State Attorney Lisa Madigan is fighting to keep banking regulations in place.

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A battle between consumers and banks has also turned into a battle between state Attorney General Lisa Madigan and suburban U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean - both Democrats.

"Bean appears poised to introduce an amendment that would assist the banking industry by taking the teeth out of the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency," Progress Illinois explains. "As the lead negotiator for the New Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee, Bean is attempting to preempt states' authority to set and enforce stricter protections against the risky financial products that have made the financial services sector billions."

Why would Bean do that?

Because forcing banks to cope with 50 sets of regulations would drive up costs that would be passed on to consumers, she says.

Perhaps. But how would those extra - and probably minimal - costs compare to the extra costs borne by the continuing failure of cozy federal regulators?

"It is absolutely critical that states be allowed to continue to investigate abusive practices by major players in the financial services industry," Madigan said in a press release, "regardless of whether these institutions have a state or national charter; and to enforce our state consumer protection laws against all lenders doing business within our borders . . . I urge the members of the Illinois Congressional delegation to put the interests of our consumers before those of the banks that led us in part to this financial crisis.”

That means you, Ms. Bean.

And your funders, too.

"[I]n the first nine months of the year, Bean received $269,800 in campaign donations from individuals and firms in the finance, insurance and real-estate industry, 42.52% of her total," Greg Hinz notes.

And being business-friendly is one reason why Bean is now in her third term representing a moderate swing district.

But Bean's constituents still get ripped off by banks and other financial institutions, even if a few of those folks work for them.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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