Editorial: Schmidt leaving Consumer Protection

Nevada consumers may not know exactly how much more money they have in their pockets since Fred Schmidt has been their advocate in state government, but be assured the amount is considerable.

Schmidt announced Wednesday he will be leaving his post as head of the Nevada Bureau of Consumer Protection this month to open a Carson City office for a private law firm.

It's an appropriate time to say thank you for a job well done.

For 12 years, Schmidt has exemplified the motto of the Attorney General's Office, for which he was chief deputy: "Protecting citizens, solving problems, making government work."

He is one of those state employees who long ago could have gone into the private sector for a healthy salary, but instead stayed and labored on behalf of Nevada residents.

He is a nationally recognized expert on utility rates, and in 1997 spearheaded a consolidation and expansion of his office's functions to take on telemarketing, securities and consumer fraud as well as antitrust activities.

Practices such as "cramming" by telephone companies - switching consumers' long-distance service when they didn't intend to change companies - are the kind of scams that have been in the Consumer Bureau's cross-hairs.

Many residents have been helped individually with their complaints of consumer fraud, and far more have benefited when the office fought unfair rate increases by the utilities that serve them.

The Consumer Bureau under Schmidt has kept businesses honest, and that's important to both the image and credibility of Nevada.

As Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa said when the bureau was being created in 1997, "Bad business is not good for good business."

We should also note that Schmidt has been involved in his community, serving as the girls soccer coach at Douglas High School.

We trust the Consumer Bureau will continue full-steam ahead with its work after Schmidt leaves, but we also know that Nevada consumers are losing a powerful and experienced voice.


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