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NEWARK – Today, the New Jersey State Senate unanimously confirmed Paul Rodríguez as Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. Rodríguez, a Hudson County resident, has led the State’s consumer protection agency as Acting Director since June 2018.
During his tenure as Acting Director, Rodríguez has continued the Division’s commitment to protect New Jersey residents with a particular focus on fighting for and providing a voice for the most vulnerable New Jerseyans, including immigrants, those with limited English-proficiency or financial means, individuals with disabilities, children, the elderly, and other communities that might not be able, or know how, to access government resources.
“Since his appointment, Paul Rodríguez has demonstrated extraordinary leadership as Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, and he’s played an integral role in the State’s response to our current public health emergency,” said Governor Murphy. “I commend the Senate for recognizing Paul’s talent and accomplishments by confirming his nomination.”
“Protecting all New Jerseyans, particularly the most vulnerable, is at the heart of Paul Rodríguez’s work, and he has demonstrated leadership and the capacity to quickly adapt during the current public health crisis,” said Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. “I thank the Governor for his support, and the Senate for its unanimous confirmation. Knowing that the Division will continue its crucial work under Paul’s steady leadership is a source of great comfort in these trying times, and a benefit to all New Jersey residents.”
In his enforcement initiatives, Director Rodríguez has renewed the Division’s investment in large-scale, complex investigations, particularly those that impact the financial lives of consumers; matters that have the ability to improve conduct across industries; and those that impact vulnerable populations. Under his leadership, the Division has taken enforcement actions against, among others:
- a major student loan servicer alleged to be engaged in misleading tactics;
- a lender alleged to have taken advantage of small business owners by providing cash advances by deceptive means;
- a Medicaid advisor alleged to have abandoned its clients;
- subprime auto sellers alleged to have sold and repossessed the same vehicles multiple times; and
- businesses claiming to offer immigration services they were not trained or authorized to provide.
Director Rodríguez has also overseen a rapid and wide-ranging response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Under his leadership, DCA has been an integral part of Governor Murphy’s whole-of-state response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including by increasing the availability of healthcare workers and telemedicine care, and setting health and safety standards to protect New Jerseyans when they access needed services. The Division has also taken an aggressive stand against those who would prey on their neighbors during this crisis by taking action against price gouging on PPE, cleaning supplies, and staple goods, and those who peddle false tests, cures, or treatments that disproportionally hurt those who can afford it the least.
Among the other critical initiatives Rodríguez has overseen as Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs are:
- Taking a multi-pronged approach to combatting the opioid epidemic in the state by suing opioid manufacturers, revoking the licenses of indiscriminate prescribers, setting rules to promote responsible prescribing, revamping technology platforms to give prescribers the tools they need to care for their patients, and operating a consumer take-back program.
- Using the Division’s rulemaking authority to protect the public, including, by proposing a uniform fiduciary duty for securities broker-dealers and agents and investment advisers and investment adviser representatives.
- Pursuing out-of-state gun and ammunition distributors offering and selling illegal ghost guns and high capacity magazines to New Jersey residents without disclosing they could face criminal charges for purchasing or owning weapons prohibited in the State.
- Coordinating with the Department of Environmental Protection to pursue used car dealerships that unlawfully sold or advertised tampered vehicles that release excessive amounts of air pollution, and makers of firefighting chemicals, which contaminated the state’s groundwater, for misleading buyers;
- Improving the Division’s website to streamline the complaint process and increase electronic filing, and overseeing the ongoing transition from paper to fully online applications for business and charity registrations, and professional and occupational licensing applications.
- Increasing our outreach efforts, including to non-English speaking communities, and during the pandemic, to educate the public on how to spot scams and avoid falling victim to unscrupulous vendors and scam artists.
- Adjusting licensing application processes to allow individuals, regardless of immigration status, to obtain professional licensure pursuant to recent legislation.
“I thank Governor Murphy and Attorney General Grewal for placing their trust in me to act as an advocate on behalf of all New Jersey residents. It is a privilege to lead the Division and an honor to work alongside the men and women who work tirelessly day in and day out, even in the midst of a global pandemic, to protect the people of this great state. While much about how we do our jobs, and what our jobs require, has changed during the current state of emergency, our mission has not. We are here to stand up for our residents to create a safer, fairer New Jersey.”
Rodríguez received his law degree from Yale Law School and graduated summa cum laude from Montclair State University with a B.A. in Political Science.
Before assuming leadership of the Division, Rodríguez served as Acting Counsel to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, as a projects specialist for U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, and an associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP in New York City.
As Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, Rodríguez is responsible for overseeing approximately 500 Division employees in five locations throughout the state, with the primary location in Newark.
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The mission of the Division of Consumer Affairs, within the Department of Law and Public Safety, is to protect the public from fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and professional misconduct in the sale of goods and services in New Jersey through education, advocacy, regulation and enforcement. The Division pursues its mission through its 51 professional and occupational boards that oversee 720,000 licensees in the state, its Regulated Business section that oversees 60,000 NJ registered businesses, as well as through its Office of Consumer Protection, Bureau of Securities, Charities Registration section, Office of Weights and Measures, and Legalized Games of Chance section.