The former state senator won’t turn over his calendar. It’s fair to wonder what he is hiding.
By the Editorial Board, THE SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE
July 30, 2019
It’s hard to remember a statewide officeholder in recent decades who got off to a worse start than California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. In violation of a campaign promise, the Democratic former state senator from Bell Gardens took donations from insurance company executives and their spouses, and subsequently sought changes in decisions made by administrative law judges that would benefit his donors. When questioned, Lara said he would return the funds and contended that the donations were accepted because he was serving as his own campaign treasurer and hadn’t paid attention to who his donors were. His staff insists there is no nexus between his actions and the donations.
Yet Lara has also refused to release his calendar for weeks. Why not show good faith by releasing some records quickly? Why leave the impression he is far too cozy with the companies he regulates? Lara only encouraged that perception in a speech to 200 top insurance industry attorneys last Thursday when, as reported by Politico, Lara said he would “start engaging the industry like never before.”
What makes these avoidable screw-ups so surprising is Lara’s history of being a skilled and effective state lawmaker. Last November, The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board endorsed Lara’s opponent — former Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner — because he was more experienced and knowledgeable about insurance issues. After seven months on the job, it’s clear Lara has learned a few things. He’s just learned the wrong things from the wrong people. He’s become his own worst enemy.