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Lisa Madigan vies for support from CATA board of directors

November 23, 2010

Illinois Attorney General candidate Lisa Madigan told CATA directors Oct. 16 that she is acquainted with issues faced by new-vehicle dealers. In fact, she said a Chicago Ford dealership serves as her polling place. Madigan pledged to retain the Attorney General Auto Dealers Advisory Council, a forum for dealers to maintain a level playing field, primarily through regulated advertising practices.

For example, the council advanced the ruling that dealers may not award gifts with a vehicle purchase if the purchase price is negotiated. "You're on the front lines," she told the dealers. "Better for you to bring that information to us than for us to ferret it out of you." The Democratic candidate discounted the mantra of her GOP opponent, Joe Birkett, who labels the attorney general as the state's top criminal prosecutor.

"The attorney general spends less than 15 percent of the time on criminal prosecutions," she said. "A larger part of the job is civil work, on consumer fraud issues, on issues that affect small businesses like dealerships." Madigan acknowledged that dealers are targets of frivolous lawsuits, and she pledged to work to eliminate them. "They're a waste of time and money," she said. "Car dealers in the Chicago area have proven that they have an interest in sitting down and talking before the points of a summons and litigation."

One CATA director remarked that dealers also can be victims of consumer fraud, by people who use identity theft to acquire a vehicle. Madigan said she would attempt to strengthen the office's communication with the secretary of state, to investigate such matters. Birkett and Kristine O'Rourke Cohn, the Republican candidate for secretary of state, visited the CATA board's September monthly meeting.