By Hannah Wiley, SACRAMENTO BEE - Capitol Alert AM

July 10, 2019…

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported on Sunday that California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has recently accepted more than $50,000 in donations from insurance company executives

“The contributions are questionable because regulators are not supposed to accept donations from people with business before the agency,” investigative reporter Jeff McDonald wrote. “Previous insurance commissioners historically have declined to accept political donations from interested parties.”

The campaign contributions are not illegal, the paper noted. But Consumer Watchdog called on Lara to return the money and refuse future donations from industry representatives.

“To do otherwise would be a betrayal of the people of California,” wrote the nonprofit’s founder Harvey Rosenfield and executive director Carmen Balber.

“As insurance commissioner, you oversee insurance policies worth hundreds of billions in annual premiums paid by Californians,” they included in a letter to Lara. “Such decisions should not be made under a cloud of improper industry influence.”

Lara did not respond to questions regarding the contributions from the Union-Tribune, but said he was proud of his record and hoped to be “judged by the public policy decisions I make as they affect injured workers and their families.”