“When Corruption Goes Unpunished, Democracy Suffers”
Federal investigators said they will not file charges against former California Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush, who resigned in disgrace in June 2000. Consumer advocates regard the failure to prosecute Quackenbush as a barrier to restoring confidence in the Department of Insurance.
“When corruption goes unpunished, democracy suffers,” said Harvey Rosenfield, President of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR). “When a public official can desecrate an office without retribution, it undermines public confidence in elected officials and, more broadly, government’s ability to protect the citizenry.”
While he was commissioner, Quackenbush neglected thousands of alleged violations by insurance companies in exchange for insurance industry contributions that were used to further his political career.
A chief criticism of Quackenbush was that he accepted over $8 million in political contributions from insurance industry sources during his campaign for and years as insurance commissioner. Quackenbush‘s resignation was seen to be a repudiation of the suggestion that an insurance commissioner can accept insurance industry money while remaining an independent regulator of the insurance system. However, to the dismay of consumer groups, the insurance industry is pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign coffers of commissioner candidate Tom Calderon.
“The lesson of the Quackenbush fiasco cannot be unlearned: insurance money does not belong in the insurance commissioner’s race. Whether or not Quackenbush is found to have acted criminally, the next and all future insurance commissioners must be independent of the insurance industry,” said Rosenfield.
FTCR is tracking insurance industry campaign contributions to commissioner candidates using the “QUACK-O-METER.” The group updates the contributions with each new campaign filing with the Secretary of State.