In 1988, voter approved Proposition 103 made the California Insurance Commissioner an elective post in order to hold the Commissioner accountable to the public. Prior to Prop 103, commissioners were appointed by the governor and often had conflicts of interest because they had previously worked for the insurance industry. Requiring insurance commissioners to win voter approval was intended to ensure that the insurance commissioner would properly implement and enforce the extensive insurance reforms enacted by Proposition 103.
Since the passage of the initiative, consumer advocates with the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) have worked to maintain the integrity of the office and to inform the public of the conduct of the elected insurance commissioners. FTCR has closely scrutinized and publicized the insurance industry’s efforts to regain control of the the commissioner, and candidates for the post, through massive campaign contributions.
Complete Analysis of The Quackenbush Scandal
The industry’s successful campaign to elect Chuck Quackenbush in 1994 — strongly criticized by FTCR — led to a series of controversies as Quackenbush proceeded to ignore or undermine most of 103’s requirements. Quackenbush was forced to resign in 2000, after a scandal in which Quackenbush dismissed billions of dollars in proposed fines against insurance companies for claims mishandling in exchange for insurer donations to a Quackenbush slush fund. FTCR has assembled the most in-depth analysis of the scandal, based on news reports and our own experts. Read FTCR’s analysis of the Quackenbush scandal, with links to news articles, editorials and press releases.
As part of its public education effort, FTCR tracks insurance industry contributions to California commissioners and candidates for the post. During the 2002 California primary The QUACK-O-METER tallied the insurance industry’s effort to corrupt the office through campaign contributions. The gauge is named after former Cal. Insurance Commisisoner Chuck Quackenbush, who raised millions from insurance companies before he resigned in disgrace in 2000.
Insurance Companies Should Be Barred From Contributing to the Insurance Commissioner
To address the clear problems created by industry contributions to the insurance commissioner, FTCR has sponsored legislation to ban such donations. However, industry lobbyists defeated the legislation in 1997, 2000 and 2001.