Cathleen MacCaul helps secure legislation protecting seniors

photo of Cathleen MacCaul
Cathleen MacCaul, AARP Advocacy Director and a first-year Policy Studies student, is helping to secure new bipartisan legislation intended to protect seniors from financial exploitation.  Thanks to her research and strategic advocacy, House bill 1153 has passed both legislative houses and is currently on the Governor’s desk awaiting his signature.
 
MacCaul has worked on passing such legislation for three years, encountering multiple obstacles.  This year, she built on lessons from the past, worked closely with the Attorney General’s office, and, through the Policy Studies Program, pursued research that compared Washington state law and mandatory reporting requirements with those of other states’.  “The data really showed a gap …which helped to validate the Attorney General’s findings,” she says. “Additionally, I also learned of the economic impact financial exploitation has on states and their ability to care for people who lose their retirement safety net. This was a key message for legislators because until then people looked at this issue as a personal one, and not as a community/societal issue.”
 
MacCaul says that her policy studies research meant that she was viewed “not just as a lobbyist, but a credible expert on the issue.”  In her advocacy role, MacCaul also worked to develop a community engagement and outreach campaign that delivered more than 8000 signed petitions from AARP members from across the state and mobilized about 40 volunteers to hand deliver the petitions to legislators on Lobby Day.
 
MacCaul says that “By far the most compelling part of the day was having volunteers and community partners hear from Amy Lecoq and the financial tragedy that her grandmother experienced when a woman befriended her and then stole more than $200k from her.”  Sharing Lecoq’s compelling family story with local legislators in one-on-one meetings as well as various media outlets comprised another crucial strategy for advancing this legislation
 
The bill itself has received coverage from regional and national outlets, including the New York Times and the Renton Reporter.