Shame on Jerry Brown

Published on

Our Attorney General is charged with telling the truth when he prepares the official title and summary for proposed ballot initiatives. Jerry Brown did that two months ago when, in accordance with previous legal rulings, he described a measure backed by Mercury Insurance as allowing insurers to raise or lower premiums based on whether a driver had a lapse in insurance coverage.

Mercury Insurance, a donor to Brown, did not like that, since initiatives that let insurers raise rates don’t do well with voters. The company withdrew the proposal, pressured the Attorney General to change the title and summary, and, yesterday, Brown accommodated the company by obscuring the premium increases.

The new Mercury initiative, which the company will start circulating for signatures again now, contains only cosmetic changes from the last one, but below are the differences in Brown’s new title and summary. Now only "discounts" are mentioned. Nothing tells the voters about the premium increases for millions of Californians that Mercury’s proposal would allow. I have rarely seen political cowardice on this level from a seasoned public official.

State courts have ruled clearly that giving discounts to drivers without coverage lapses automatically results in big premium increases for motorists who have lapses. But notice how Jerry Brown, California’s top lawyer, has turned potential premium increases into "lapses in coverage due to nonpayment of premiums may prevent a driver from qualifying for the discount."

Today Consumer Watchdog issued a public records act request to the Attorney General for all communications between Brown’s office and Mercury Insurance to determine what type of pressure was brought to bear.

The people of California deserve to know the consequences of the ballot measures they are voting on and this new title and summary hides the true impact on people who must stop driving due to these hard economic times or because they choose to stop using their car for other reasons.

We just wanted to let you know about this deeply disturbing development and that we will continue to do all we can to protect policyholders from the type of injustice in the insurance marketplace that Mercury is proposing. When the state forces people to buy auto insurance, those hurt by this economy should not pay more simply because they choose to stop driving in order to put more food on the table. That’s why Proposition 103, which Californians voted for in 1988, bans the practice Mercury wants to legalize.

Our affiliate, the Campaign for Consumer Rights, will oppose the Mercury initiative and has proposed two measures of its own to further regulate and reform insurance companies. We will keep you informed of our progress. Those interested in circulating petitions as they become available can email us as at [email protected]

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.

Latest Videos

Latest Releases

In The News

Latest Report

Support Consumer Watchdog

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news, press releases and special reports.

More Releases