Santa Monica, CA -- The insurance billionaire backing Proposition 33 dropped another $500,000 into the campaign on Wednesday as Prop 33 slips in the polls. Mercury Insurance chairman George Joseph redoubled his campaign’s deceptive tactics with new advertisements that again feature testimonials by “supporters’ who had financial ties to Mercury Insurance and its chairman George Joseph.
“The insurance executive behind Prop 33 can only win by dirty tricks that deceive voters, because the polls show the more the public learns about Prop 33 the less they like it,” said Carmen Balber with Consumer Watchdog. “Two years ago, Californians voted against this insurance company’s false promises of discounts. Voters are smart enough to see through the same insurance company’s phony paid spokespeople too.”
These are among the latest deceptive advertising tricks featuring paid "supporters" by the Prop 33 campaign:
• A half-page ad that ran in the Los Angeles Times on Thursday features State Senator Juan Vargas stating support for Prop 33, yet fails to disclose the $69,100 in campaign contributions that Vargas has received from Joseph and Mercury Insurance. Vargas himself is a former insurance industry executive.
• New Yes on Prop 33 banner ads on news websites feature the face of a voter who is actually an employee of Marketplace Communications, which has been paid over $750,000 so far to run the campaign. Other employees of Marketplace Communications posing as real drivers were featured in paid television advertising without disclosing their identities.
• Slate mailers going to households all across California this weekend feature a Yes on 33 endorsement from the Peace Officers Research Association of California, which received at least $75,000 for the endorsement. The campaign reports paying the US Postal Service $877,0000, suggesting it may have also paid to mail out the literature for PORAC and other paid slate mailers.
The only public poll on Prop 33, from Pepperdine University and the California Business Roundtable, reported this week that Prop 33 has fallen to 48.8% support, from 54% two weeks ago, and 60% prior to that.
Proposition 33 would allow insurance companies to raise auto insurance rates on good drivers who stop driving for almost any reason, even if they didn’t have a car.
Other campaign “supporters” that have been paid directly by Mercury, Joseph and the Prop 33 campaign include:
• Roy M. Perez, the Immediate Past Chair of the California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, owns RMP Strategies which has been paid $30,000 as a consultant by the Yes on 33 campaign. Former Senator Perata received at least $43,100 in campaign contributions from Mercury and Joseph, and was paid consulting fees from a nonprofit paid $75,000 by Mercury. The CA Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, PORAC, Senators Vargas and Perata were all featured in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times ad.
• The Greenlining Institute opposed a measure nearly identical to Prop 33 in 2010, but reversed its position after a $25,000 contribution received from Mercury this spring, which was followed by another $195,000 contribution in September. Greenlining is also featured in the Los Angeles Times ad.
• Last month, Prop 33 TV ads were caught falsely representing two women – Brandi King and Adriana Calderon – as regular drivers without disclosing that they work for the PR firm, Marketplace Communications, that has been paid over $750,000 to run the campaign. Currently, Marketplace employee Eric Goto is featured in banner web site advertising posing as a disinterested voter voting on Prop 33.
Congressman John Garamendi, California’s first elected insurance commissioner and former Lt. Governor, today announced his opposition to Proposition 33. He joins every major consumer group in California, including Consumers Union, the nonprofit publishers of Consumer Reports, Consumer Federation of California, Consumer Action and Consumer Watchdog who oppose Proposition 33 because it would unfairly raise rates on new drivers, and Californians who stop driving for good reasons, even if they have perfect driving records.
The coalition of organizations opposing Prop 33 represents seniors, civil rights, workers, women and faith-based organizations including: California Nurses Association, California Council of Churches IMPACT, California NOW, California Labor Federation, MALDEF, Equal Justice Society, California Alliance for Retired Americans and many more. Find the coalition members here.
For more information on why to vote No on Prop 33 visit: http://stopprop33.consumerwatchdogcampaign.org/.
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