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Division of Consumer Affairs Director Paul R. Rodríguez.

Rodríguez gets Biden administration post

Division of Consumer Affairs director leaving New Jersey to become U.S. Department of Health deputy general counsel

By Nikita Biryukov, January 20 2021 1:18 pm

State Division of Consumer Affairs Director Paul Rodríguez will leave his state post to join the President Joe Biden’s administration, Gov. Phil Murphy announced about an hour after Biden took office Wednesday.

“Since his appointment in 2018, Paul Rodríguez has been a tireless advocate for New Jersey’s most vulnerable and provided the Division of Consumer Affairs with the requisite expertise and vision to navigate the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic,” Murphy said. “Paul’s counsel and professionalism will be a strong addition to the Biden-Harris Administration, and I thank him for his dedication to the betterment of our state.”

Rodríguez will become deputy general counsel to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services amid a pandemic that has now killed more than 400,000 Americans. He took his state post in an acting capacity in June 2018 and was confirmed to the post by the State Senate a little more than a month ago, on Dec. 17, 2020.

He was previously acting counsel to New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio and a projects specialist for late U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-Cliffside Park).

“Paul Rodríguez has led the Division of Consumer Affairs with remarkable skill, agility, and determination, protecting consumers from those who would prey on them and working to ensure New Jerseyans have access to healthcare when they need it most,” New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said.

Kaitlin Caruso, who was the division’s deputy director for policy and strategic planning, will take over as acting director. She has served as acting deputy director for the Office of Consumer Protection.

Rodríguez tenure at the state agency saw him pursue cases against firearm and ammunition retailers who ran afoul of the state’s gun control law through the sale of high-capacity magazines and so-called ghost guns who did not inform New Jersey buyers that such items were illegal in New Jersey.

He also aided the state’s effort to tamp down on fraudsters peddling false treatments and tests for COVID-19.

“Throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency, Paul has demonstrated true leadership during a time of crisis, bringing out the best in his staff, expanding the capabilities and scope of the Division, and fighting to promote equity and protect the most vulnerable,” Grewal said. “We will miss him and his commitment to his home state, but I know he will be a great asset to the Biden-Harris Administration and to all Americans.”

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