Jersey Ploys?

The New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience and Automotive Association (NJGCA) has accused New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram of grandstanding when she alleged there was misconduct on the part of hundreds of gas retailers during high gas prices this past summer.

Last week, NJGCA said Milgram misrepresented the number of gas stations that were actually scamming consumers when she released the names of nearly 350 businesses this past June.

“Last summer, Attorney General Anne Milgram distributed a press release disclosing the names of 350 gasoline retailers her office claimed were ‘scamming’ motorists, while she hosted a press conference accusing these small businesses of ‘cheating’ the public," NJGCA Executive Director Sal Risalvato said. “NJGCA investigated these accusations, discovered that the report presented was entirely misleading, and countered her press conference to dispute these findings.”

Risalvato said most gas stations had only minor infractions that should not have been classified as "scamming."

According to LegalNewsline.com, a Milgram representative responded to Risalvato’s statement by saying NJGCA was wrong by suggesting that Milgram grouped minor violators with more serious ones in an effort to win favor with New Jersey residents.

“I do not consider signs that do not match the price set on the pump, lower-octane gas being sold as premium and pumps dispensing inaccurate amount of gasoline to be minor violations, nor I believe, do motorists," said Assistant Attorney General David Szuchman.

Milgram recently issued a press release admitting that were 10 gas stations of 350 that should not have been on the initial list of gas stations that were cited for violations.

Several weeks after Milgram had listed the original 350 gas stations as alleged violators, NJGCA filed an open records request to obtain documents that Milgram’s team used to compile the list. The request was initially denied, but a subsequent lawsuit resulted in the release of the documents a few weeks ago.

“NJGCA has scrutinized the documents and has found that they confirm our previous suspicions: The vast majority of the small businesses cited had only administrative or minor infractions that do not rise to the level of ‘scamming’ or dishonesty,” Risalvato said. “Do these infractions need to be addressed? Absolutely! But these violations do NOT constitute retailers ‘scamming’ motorists or knowingly ‘cheating’ consumers. Most of the infractions were routine in nature; the professionals at the Department of Weights and Measures see these types of lapses daily.”

Risalvato said Milgram “pandered to the public under the false pretense that her efforts would somehow combat the high prices at the pump.

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