The California Assembly rejected SB 953 (Speier), which limits to $250 contributions to the elected insurance commissioner by companies with business pending before the Department for a set time period.
“While the Assembly uncovered a problem, the politicians turned their back on the solution,” said Doug Heller of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.
” Insurers’ and politicians’ interests beat out the public interest. Insurer corruption of the legislature defeated a bill to root out corruption of the Department of Insurance. It should be no surprise that those who voted against this legislation also received the most contributions themselves from the insurance industry. Industry lobbyists have the California Assembly hostage in the same way that the industry has held the office of the insurance commissioner hostage.”
“It is a tragic day for California’s democracy when a simple majority of politicians in the house of the people will not stand up to the biggest cash-rich industry in the state and deny it the brute power to influence regulatory action through campaign financing,” said Jamie Court, executive director of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR). ” Insurers’ interests triumphed over the public interest. Politics won over policy. Cash triumphed over reason. Politicians refused to take insurance company contributions off the insurance commissioner’s mind. Candidates for office will continue to make a record through industry fundraisers rather than on the issues. By the same logic, politicians in this legislature would vote to let judges take money from a defendant if the defendants also contributed to their campaigns. Legislators let the slippery slope argument avalanche over the interests of the public. To save their own ganders, politicians refused to cook the goose. The Assembly’s conscience is with the industry not the people.
Majority leader Kevin Shelly, speaking in favor of SB 953, stated that recent polls showed that 80% of the public supported an elected insurance commissioner.