Insurance Lobbyist Caught On Tape Bragging And Joking About End of Legislative Session “Surprise” To Jam Consumers For Bailout

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Sacramento, CA — A 17 year veteran insurance industry lobbyist, Michael Gunning, now chief strategy officer for Lighthouse Public Affairs, was taped on a Southwest flight bragging and joking about “trying to jam a bill in the last three weeks of the year” for an industry bailout as a “surprise you don’t know about. Right that’s always the fun thing that comes up. ‘Where did that come from?’” 

The recording was made by Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court who was seated near Gunning last Thursday as he joked about the eleventh hour “jam” with a Southwest flight attendant en route from Los Angeles to Sacramento. Gunning discussed how he and other lobbyists were well-paid for the end of the session surprises. 

Listen to the recording. The incident was first reported by Politico.

With 15 days left until the end of session, no bill has yet surfaced in print for the “gut and amend” despite reports in Politico of the proposal circulating among the industry, the legislature, the governor and the insurance commissioner.

“Surprise is no way to make policy shifting billions of dollars from insurance companies to policyholders,” said Court. “The arrogance of this and other insurance industry lobbyists who believe they can jam the public and the legislature in the last two weeks of session with the biggest insurance bailout in American history is epic. The governor and legislative leaders should not allow an industry to legislate by surprise outside the normal rules of legislative conduct with billions of policyholder dollars on the line.”

Gunning is recorded as saying, “So we are trying to jam a bill in the last three weeks of the year…. It might be the only thing…

So State Farm is not writing any new, Allstate stopped a while ago, Farmers said they were limited to 12,000 policies a year… And everyone else…

That’s gonna be the big thing. Of course, the surprise you don’t know about. {LAUGHS} 

Right that’s always the fun thing that comes up. ‘Where did that come from?’ ….

Attendant says, “A gut and amend.” Gunning answers, “Right.”

Attendant says, “That was well retained. The last three weeks of the year is always about something.”

Gunning responds, “But it gets done.”

Read more about the details of the bailout.

Jamie Court
Jamie Court
Consumer Watchdog's President and Chairman of the Board is an award-winning and nationally recognized consumer advocate. The author of three books, he has led dozens of campaigns to reform insurance companies, financial institutions, energy companies, political accountability and health care companies.

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