More insurance-industry cash to help Villines

I’d reported last week that the insurance industry seems to be buying into the election for state Insurance Commissioner by dumping money into JobsPAC – a political action committee co-chaired by the California Chamber of Commerce – which in turn is running an independent expenditure campaign for Republican nominee Mike Villines and against Democratic nominee Dave Jones.

That spending continued this weekend. JobsPAC on Saturday reported having received:

  • $450,000 from Allstate Insurance Co. on Thursday;
  • $250,000 from Mercury Insurance Chairman George Joseph on Thursday;
  • $365,000 from Liberty Mutual Group Inc. on Thursday; and
  • $300,000 from Progressive Insurance on Thursday and Friday.
  • The PAC also reported Saturday a $40,125 ad buy in support of Villines, and the same amount for an ad buy against Jones.

    Villines campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Gibbons on Thursday had said the campaign neither has coordinated with JobsPAC nor has any knowledge of their activities or contributors.

    The San Francisco Chronicle, in endorsing Villines at the start of this month, had noted both Villines and Jones have refused to accept industry-related contributions; apparently Villines has no problem, however, accepting industry-funded help so long as it’s coming through an intermediary. (In fairness, and as the Chronicle noted as well, Jones has taken lots of campaign money from attorneys, who often battle insurers in court and so have a vested interest in this race, too.)

    Josh Richman

    Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

    • Ralph Hoffmann

      My Health Insurance Premium increased the past 2 yrs.
      My Homeowners Insurance Premium increased the past 2 yrs.
      My Social Security Income has been constant the past 2 yrs.
      Recession is boom time for insurance fraud.

    • Elwood

      The price of everything is going up. Containers become smaller for the same price or more.

      But there is no inflation, therefore no need for a social security increase for the last two years.

      The Obummer administration says so.

      And who would not believe them?

    • John W

      Funny, I don’t recall any complaints from seniors when they received a way-too-high 6% for 2009 due to a timing fluke in the law. Averaged over three years 2009-2011, it works out to roughly 2% per year. Many working folks would be pretty happy with that. Plus Obama and Congress sent them a $250 check (wrongly in my opinion), which was equivalent to a 2% increase for the average SS recipient. Plus, those already on Social Security were protected against any increase in Medicare Part B premiums, while retired teachers and those just starting Social Security will have to pay 30% more for those premiums to make up the difference.

    • curt

      Dave Jones is the Democratic candidate for Insurance Commissioner.

      Dave Jones is running around California telling anyone who will listen that he is not taking campaign contributions from the insurance industry.

      But whenever you hear a politician make a virtue out of who they are not taking campaign contributions from you should look at who they are taking contributions from.

      And in the case of Mr. Jones the ones he is taking contributions from are the trial lawyers. You know the ones who make a living out of suing insurance companies.

      It is not surprising that Mr. Jones is being heavily supported by the members of the plaintiff’s bar since Democrats in the Legislature like Jones have for years passed laws and regulations that provide fertile ground for lawsuits. For the trial lawyers the Legislature has been great at developing new markets for them to reap rewards at the expense of California businesses while driving up prices for consumers.

      Here in California Jones has received close to a quarter of a million dollars from trial lawyers and one firm Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy has donated almost $75,000 all by its lonesome. On their website they list as one of their practice areas “Insurance”. Nothing wrong with that but it would seem they would have a vested interest in who is the next Insurance Commissioner just as much if not more than an insurance company.

      But in addition to California’s trial lawyers, there is a whole different group of lawyers who are the antithesis of trial lawyers supporting Jones. They held fundraising events for him in the Chicago area just a couple of weeks ago.

      That would be The Goldwater Taplin Group. They have 12 offices nationwide but none in California. But this bunch of lawyers doesn’t sue insurance companies they represent them!

      According to their website, “The Goldwater Taplin portfolio of services meets a broad range of legal, regulatory, and business needs across all sectors of the insurance industry.” And when it comes to taking the prize for brazen influence peddling they have no peer.

      The bio for Goldwater Taplin CEO Norman Taplin reads in part, “Mr. Taplin is President of Taplin & Associates and Co-Founder of The Goldwater Taplin Group. He utilizes his 30 years experience as an insurance regulatory attorney to give his clients privileged access to the country’s insurance/regulatory decision-makers.”

      If Dave Jones is elected what kind of “privileged access” will Goldwater Taplin enjoy? Will they get an “all access pass” to the Insurance Commissioner’s office like those all access passes groupies covet at a rock concert?

      My question is what is the difference between not taking money from insurance companies but taking money from their lawyers and advisors? Apparently none in Mr. Jones mind.

      It don’t take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep and it looks to me that old wily Dave Jones is playing both sides of the legal street in his quest for higher office. It is comforting to know that if elected Jones will be an “equal access” Insurance Commissioner. I wonder if he has told his pals in the plaintiff’s bar that he is cozying up to their potential opponents?

      But at least he is not taking money from insurance companies…

    • Brian

      Villines religious views will prevent me from voting for him. I don’t think the insurance commissioner should be making decisions about women’s bodies based on religious views.