Georgia Watch Honors 2023 Consumer Champions

ATLANTA, GA – October 13, 2023 – Yesterday, Georgia Watch presented its 2023 Consumer Champion Awards to six exceptional individuals for their work to protect and empower consumers in Georgia.

Representative Josh Bonner (R-Fayetteville), Defense & Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman, was recognized as the “Consumer Champion for Fair Lending” for his hard work to protect Georgians from predatory car title lending. During the 2023 legislative session, Rep. Bonner introduced legislation to make car title lenders subject to rate caps and regulation by the Department of Banking and Finance.

John F. King, Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner, received the “Consumer Champion for Marketplace Fairness” award for his steadfast commitment to ensuring fair car insurance rate filings, quick actions to prevent unfair practices by a home insurer, and overseeing proper implementation of state and federal surprising billing consumer protection laws. Georgia Watch also acknowledged him for cracking down on a health insurer for inaccurate, inadequate provider networks and delayed payment of claims.

Kathleen Toomey, M.D., Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, received the “Champion for Maternal, Child and Community Health” award for her tireless efforts to promote healthcare access and improve maternal and infant health outcomes by uplifting Community Health Workers around the state.

The “Champion for Energy and Health Equity” award was presented to Berneta L. Haynes, J.D., Senior Staff Attorney with the National Consumer Law Center, for her dedicated state and federal advocacy focused on the nexus between consumer protection and racial justice, especially to reduce medical debt and high energy bills.

Justin Gray received the “Consumer Champion for Financial Protection” award for his dogged investigations and reporting on misdeeds that have helped Georgians avoid financial hardship, including helping victims of bank fraud, homeowner scams, unfair health insurance denials, wage garnishment for false debts, and harmful real estate deals. A consumer investigative reporter with WSB-TV, Mr. Gray’s coverage also helped pass new laws to protect Georgia consumers. 

Georgia Watch recognized Margaret Coker, editor-in-chief of The Current, with the “Champion for Shining Light on Title Lenders” award for her ongoing series exposing the title pawn industry’s business practices that trap Georgians in debt. 

“Georgia Watch is proud to recognize these Consumer Champions for standing up for the interests of Georgia consumers,” said Georgia Watch Executive Director Liz Coyle. “We owe them each a debt of gratitude for the energy they put forth daily to keep Georgians safe, healthy, and financially secure.”

About Georgia Watch

Founded in 2002, Georgia Watch is a statewide, non-profit consumer advocacy organization working to inform and protect Georgia consumers on matters that significantly impact their quality of life, including the effects of predatory business practices, the high cost of utilities and healthcare, and restricted access to the civil justice system.

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