CAMPAIGN FOR CONSUMER RIGHTS NEWS

October 25, 2010
Contact: Doug Heller 310-392-0522 ext. 309

Insurers Add Another $1 Million to Stealth Campaign to Elect Villines Insurance Commissioner, Now Totaling $3.8 Million

Allstate, Mercury Top $ 1 Million Each in Past Month; Both Have Big Issues Before Department of Insurance

Santa Monica, CA – In less than a month, ten insurance companies have spent $3.8 million in an unprecedented campaign to pick their next regulator. Even the disgraced Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush didn't see this much insurance money flow this quickly into his campaigns, according to the nonpartisan Campaign for Consumer Rights.

Voters viewing the advertisements paid for by the insurance industry don’t know their source, however, because the insurance industry money is being laundered through a Chamber of Commerce committee called JobsPAC. The campaign ads attacking candidate Dave Jones and endorsing his rival Mike Villines do not list the insurance companies' funding. The contributions to the campaign, which began on September 27th, have averaged about $1,000,000 per week and have been followed by media buys against Jones and for Villines of approximately the same amount.

The total industry donations to date are:

  • Allstate Insurance $1,150,000
  • George Joseph - Mercury Insurance $1,000,000
  • Liberty Mutual $640,000
  • Progressive Insurance $390,000
  • Farmers $225,000
  • Anthem Blue Cross $150,000
  • HealthNet $100,000
  • P/C Insurers Association of America $74,000
  • American Insurance Association $52,000
  • Personal Insurance Fed. of California $25,000

"Californians will not see these insurance companies listed on all the ads about the insurance commissioner race, but they need to know that the insurance companies are desperately trying to buy the office so they can own their regulator," said Harvey Rosenfield, the author of the 1988 insurance reform measure Proposition 103 and Chairman of the Campaign for Consumer Rights.

Last week the Campaign For Consumer Rights launched a radio advertisement to inform voters insurance companies are paying for the advertising. Listen to the advertisement at http://www.stoptheinsurers.org.

Top Funders Have Company-Specific Issues Before Department of Insurance

The top funder to the insurance industry's campaign to elect Villines, Allstate Insurance, is currently locked in a battle at the Department of Insurance over whether its so-called "Your Choice Auto" program is legal or an overpriced marketing scheme that is unfairly discriminatory. The company of the second biggest donor to the campaign for Villines, Mercury Insurance Chairman George Joseph, is the subject of two Department of Insurance enforcement actions relating to illegal and discriminatory practices and has a pending rate hike proposal before the Department. For both companies, it is generally expected that final decisions in these matters will not be made until the next Commissioner takes office.

"These insurance companies are spending millions to influence this commissioner's race, because the winner will be judge and jury to cases worth tens of millions to the companies," said Doug Heller with Campaign for Consumer Rights. "This is a textbook case of conflict of interest."

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