Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has begun a statewide crackdown on people and businesses engaged in “pandemic profiteering.”
The attorney general’s office began its enforcement efforts immediately after Executive Order 20-10 went into effect at 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. The Executive Order bans price-gouging on essential goods and services during the COVID-19 peacetime emergency.
Tuesday, March 24, Ellison’s office entered into an Assurance of Discontinuance with Downtown Smoke Shop, Inc. in Saint Paul, and sent a warning letter to Menards.
To date, the attorney general’s office has received more than 300 price-gouging complaints on goods and services deemed essential in the executive order. These complaints most commonly relate to toilet paper and other paper products, rice, cleaning/sanitation products, face masks, eggs, butter, and water. In just the past four days, the office’s enforcement staff have made more than 70 visits to Minnesota retail stores to survey prices and investigate complaints of price gouging.
“I will do everything in my power to help ensure Minnesotans can afford their lives and are protected from pandemic profiteering by people who are trying to line their pockets during this crisis at Minnesotans’ expense,” Ellison stated in a news release. “We need Minnesotans’ help with this mission, too. I strongly urge anyone who sees any price-gouging on essential goods in their community to report it to my office immediately. We’ll get right on it.”