By: Ilana Siyance
In a recent interview with New York’s Attorney General Letitia James, Crain’s NY asked the state’s top law enforcement officer to weigh in on several pressing questions. The 61-year old who became the first black woman to serve as AG has been busy rooting out price gouging, holding off student debt, and working to help homeowners keep their property during the ongoing pandemic and financial whirlwind.
As reported by Crain’s, during the interview James was asked her opinion on State Sen. Mike Gianaris from Queens who recently proposed anti-trust legislation, saying the laws are old and outdated. She was asked how that would impact big tech companies and if she thought the state should join that battle. “We have antitrust laws in the state of New York, but we haven’t updated them in some time, and they’re outdated. Unfortunately, they don’t reflect the realities of the 21st century,” responded James.
“I want to thank Sen. Gianaris for putting forth a bill which would focus on the monopolistic powers of companies that engage in anti-competitive conduct.” She went on to say that because the state’s law have not yet been updated, it will be an impediment for the state in actively pursuing the companies and persons who take advantage of the markets. She did, however, prioritize this topic saying: “It’s important that we protect the marketplace. And we protect it from companies who engage in monopolistic abuse, and who engage in antitrust violations.” She added that her office is currently investigating several businesses for antitrust violations, and that they are working to make sure “the law reflects the current technology and reflects conduct which currently exists in our marketplace.”
The AG was also questioned about price gouging in the city during the pandemic. As per Crain’s, she responded that her office received 8,000 calls complaining about price gouging particularly in ppp items such as masks, gloves and hand sanitizers. “We had to issue over 1,500 cease-and-desist letters”, she said. James said that their efforts helped but then there were complaints about price gouging in food staples such as meat and eggs. She said that after looking into it and speaking to supermarkets, her office found that for the most part the stores were just encountering higher prices in the supply chain and were passing that down to customers. There was one exception of an egg manufacturer who was actually engaging in price gouging, and she said they brought litigation against that manufacturer.