Thursday, September 07, 2006

Who is funding the No on 89 campaign?

Who’s Bankrolling the No on 89 Campaign?

Mercury Insurance—Controversial California Insurance Corporations- First to Fund Attacks on Anti-Corruption Initiative

The California Chamber of Commerce is busily building its team of Sacramento insiders desperate to support the status quo-and ignore the corruption that troubles so many voters. Their first major donor has stepped to the plate, with Mercury General Corporation donating $100,000 to the No on 89 campaign, paired with another $100,000 from George Joseph, the company’s CEO.

Mercury General is a key player in the Sacramento fundraising game, giving millions in donations to a variety politicians and political groups—and receiving favors and legislation in return. Many of these favors come at the expense of ordinary consumers, especially low-income consumers, who are also the ordinary voters voting on Prop. 89. A Sacramento investment fund linked to Joseph received a federal subpoena in 2004 investigating illegal contributions to political groups headed by State Sen. Don Perata.

In a statement, Rose Ann DeMoro, Executive Director of the California Nurses Association noted, “Mercury Insurance is symbolic of the problems California faces. They give money to any politician who rewards them special favors or treatment. With corporations like Mercury running the show in Sacramento, ordinary voters don’t stand a chance. Prop. 89 is our opportunity to rein in the special interests corrupting out government and clean up the mess in Sacramento.”

While traditionally a Democratic donor , Mercury Insurance has been happy to support allies from both parties. They gave $75,000 to the California Democratic Party in 2006, $55,400 to the California Republican Party, and $44,600 to Californians for Schwarzenegger 2006. In September, 2003, Mercury donated $150,000 to Californians Against the Costly Recall (in two separate donations); five months laters, in February, 2004, they gave $100,000 to Governor Schwarzenegger’s California Recovery Team.

According to the Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights, Department of Insurance regulations forced Mercury to stop a practice in which the company illegally discriminated against drivers who had lapses in insurance coverage. And a San Francisco Superior Court judge recently ruled that Mercury was advertising a lower premium than most customers would actually pay because the company was allowing its agents to add illegal broker fees on top of the rates it was allowed to charge by the Department of Insurance.

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