Consumer Group Warns of Mail Fraud from Insurance Industry Campaign for Prop 17

Published on

Desperate Mercury Insurance Dumps Another Million into $16
Million Campaign and Distributes Last Minute Mailer from Phony “Consumer

Santa Monica, CA — Facing a surge of voter opposition in the last few
days of its campaign for Proposition 17, sponsor Mercury Insurance
injected another $1 million dollars into its campaign to fund
last-minute mailings and advertising that conceal the insurer’s support
and feature a fraudulent “Consumer Coalition of California.”

here to view the mailer
.  To date, Mercury has donated $16 million
to fund the Prop 17 campaign.

The so-called “Consumer Coalition of California” whose name appears
on the Prop 17 mailer is run by a Texas woman, Virginia Jarrow, who has
repeatedly sided with industry. All legitimate consumer groups in
California, including, Consumers Union, Consumer Watchdog and Consumer
Federation of California oppose Propositon 17.  The Mercury funded
mailers also fail to identify Mercury as an insurance company in state
mandated disclosures. The disclosure on the mailers state: “Paid for by
Yes On 17-Californians For Fair Auto Insurance Rates And Mercury General
Corporation And Affiliates.”  Mercury Insurance’s corporate parent,
Mercury General Corporation, doesn’t have “insurance” in its name.

“This is a consumer fraud,” said Harvey Rosenfield, founder of
Consumer Watchdog. “Mercury Insurance Company is trying to put one over
on the voters by sending out mailings in the name of a consumer
coalition that does not exist. All legitimate consumer groups in
California oppose 17 because it will allow insurance companies to raise
auto insurance premiums.”

Mercury Insurance has been paying other front groups for their

Californians for Fair Auto Insurance Rates (Cal-FAIR)

Mercury Insurance has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Bicker,
Castillo & Fairbanks, a public relations firm, to create a front
group called Californians for Fair Auto Insurance Rates or CAL-FAIR.
 The chief spokesperson for CAL-FAIR, Kathy Fairbanks, is a
communications consultant and partner in the firm that runs campaigns
for several different corporations and interest groups.

Consumers First, Inc.

Jim Conran is listed as the co-chair for Californians for Fair Auto
Insurance Rates (Cal-FAIR)/Yes on 17 campaign. As head of something he
calls Consumers First, Inc. (which doesn’t appear to be incorporated or
have a website), Conran has been paid tens of thousands of dollars by
the Prop 17 campaign to help Mercury Insurance try to deceive voters on
the measure.  Prop 17 is not his only deception. Mr. Conran is a
pay-for-play PR professional who is paid by industry executives to run
several front group projects.

Kirk West

Kirk West, a co-chair of CAL-FAIR, has already made over $30,000 as a
paid spokesman for Mercury Insurance’s campaign on Prop 17. He was
formerly the President of the Chamber of Commerce and is now a
gun-for-hire for industry executives.

Prop 17 would penalize Californians who opt to stop driving for a
time, for virtually any reason. Voters would be required to pay up to a
$1,000 more dollars a year for auto insurance when they sought to
restart coverage.

– 30 –

Campaign for Consumer Rights is the campaign affiliate of the
nonprofit Consumer Watchdog and the sponsor of Stop Prop 17  –

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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