Insurance Company has Begun Providing Campaign Cash to Lawmakers Who Voted for its Scheme to Surcharge Poor Motorists, Soldiers
Santa Monica--Four lawmakers who voted for SB 689, a Mercury Insurance-sponsored bill, have received campaign contributions from the company this week. Assemblymembers Diaz and Horton and Senator Morrow each received $1,000 from Mercury, and Assemblymember Cox received $1,500, according to documents filed with the Secretary of State. Consumer advocates with the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) said that the contributions represent the first wave of "thank you gifts" for legislators who voted for Mercury's bill, which would allow insurers to surcharge drivers who have not maintained continuous coverage.
Last Thursday, Mercury gave $25,000 to Governor Davis, a move that consumer advocates believe was intended to ensure the governor's signature on SB 689, which passed the legislature three weeks ago. Since 2000, Mercury has given over $1.2 million dollars to politicians and their causes, including $656,300 to current members of the California legislature.
"Mercury Insurance is a major donor to both Republicans and Democrats, and that's why politicians were willing to line up in favor of a bill that will raise premiums for soldiers returning from duty abroad, low-income motorists, and others who have not maintained consistent coverage," said Joe Newlin, consumer advocate with the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. "The politicians knew that they could feed at Mercury's trough if they voted for the bill."
Mercury Insurance CEO George Joseph, responding to questions about his company's September 12th $25,000 donation to Governor Davis, told the Associated Press: "I'm curious why they're [FTCR] not troubled by any other of our donations."
Noting that Mercury contributed to two-thirds of the California Legislature, FTCR said: "We are horrified by the amount of money that Mercury has thrown at California politicians in its attempt to buy legislation that obviously cannot stand on its own."