Attorney general pushes new effort in assisting consumers

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel was in Pine Bluff on Tuesday, touting the new “Got Your Back, Arkansas” program addition to his office’s consumer protection division and encouraging Jefferson County residents to “call me if you need me.”

McDaniel, speaking at the annual Industry Appreciation Day joint meeting of the Pine Bluff and West Pine Bluff Rotary Clubs, said his office received 402 consumer complaints from county residents in 2011 and recovered nearly $60,000 in fraudulent financial charges and other contested matters.

“But we know more problems exist,” said McDaniel, now in his second term.

A Democrat, he said many Arkansans are either unaware of the consumer services offered by his office or believe their problems are too insignificant to garner assistance.

“We’re not available just for big problems,” he said, citing an example of taking on a telephone company over a disputed 48-cent fee. “We reacted to that complaint,” he said, adding that while the amount might be small on its own, it would become major if it was being imposed on a large number of customers.

The “Got Your Back, Arkansas” campaign is outlined at the Web site The site’s content is separated into nine categories, allowing consumers to easily locate information addressing their concerns.

McDaniel said that complaints can be filed through the Web site or by telephoning his office’s consumer protection hotline at 1-800-482-8982.

McDaniel said “getting to help people” is perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of his work.

“I love my job,” he said. “Being attorney general is a lot like being paid to eat ice cream.”

Deemed by insiders as a probable future gubernatorial candidate, McDaniel also spoke on a few other topics, including the state’s financial health.

“Arkansas has weathered this economic storm better than virtually any other state in the union,” he said, pointing out that Arkansas is one of only four states that have maintained budgets while lowering taxes.

He noted, too, that unlike many other states, Arkansas has not had “one single furlow day” in its schools.

The Jonesboro native deemed himself “a son of the Delta” and spoke of his affection for the region.

“I believe in the flatlands,” he said. “And I believe that the historic Delta’s best days are yet to come.”

McDaniel said this part of the state is unique because the “Delta and timber area come together here.”

He said he’s twice actively opposed the federal Environmental Protection Agency on recent proposed timber industry regulatory measures.

“The timber area has been suffering and doesn’t need regulatory measures making matters worse,” he said.

McDaniel said he would continue to resist the EPA “burdening” the industry with measures that can’t produce “targeted results.”

“Government ought to be required to make a little sense,” he said.