By Dan Walters | CALmatters Columnist
This has been a extensive, sizzling summer time for Ricardo Lara, a former point out legislator from Los Angeles who was elected as California’s insurance coverage commissioner 9 months in the past.
He’s been hammered by a sequence of journalistic revelations, largely in the San Diego Union-Tribune, about how he has indirectly reneged on a campaign promise not to settle for marketing campaign contributions from insurance coverage business resources.
Union-Tribune reporter Jeff McDonald wrote that Lara’s office environment “intervened in at minimum 4 proceedings involving a enterprise with ties to insurance executives and their spouses who donated tens of thousands of dollars to his re-election marketing campaign, records clearly show.”
Lara immediately did a mea culpa, declaring, “I enjoy The San Diego Union-Tribune bringing this to my attention” and promising to return the tainted contributions.
On the other hand, the revelations have continued, not only in the Union-Tribune but in other media.
Lara portrayed himself as a tough regulator of the insurance policies industry for the duration of his hard-fought marketing campaign in opposition to a former holder of the business, Steve Poizner, last year.
Nevertheless, Politico, a political internet site, documented this week that for the duration of a personal speech to insurance plan executives in July, Lara declared help for a prolonged-sought purpose of giving insurers more obtain to drivers’ car facts, some thing that privacy advocates oppose. He advised the executives, “I’m ready to get inventive, just like all of you have been for so a lot of yrs.”
Lara’s situation recollects that of Chuck Quackenbush, another previous point out legislator who was elected as insurance policies commissioner in 1994 and was also seen as a rising political star.
In 2000, immediately after Republican Quackenbush won a next phrase, the Los Angeles Instances claimed that he experienced not only collected marketing campaign contributions from insurers but directed some of the cash into his wife’s nascent hopes for political office.
Quackenbush, the Situations noted, also designed specials with insurers who had been accused of unfair methods in dealing with statements from the Northridge earthquake, permitting them to donate to distinctive resources he managed in lieu of getting fined. The funds had been utilised for “public service” television advertisements in which Quackenbush appeared — a way of creating his community profile.
As revelations about Quackenbush mounted, the Legislature, managed by Democrats, launched investigations. He denied any wrongdoing but inside a number of months resigned. He later moved to Hawaii, then to Florida to turn out to be a sheriff’s deputy, but that came to a poor finish as nicely he was pressured to resign from the Lee County power soon after earning Facebook postings regarded to be racist.
It’s not likely that Democrat Lara’s former colleagues in the Legislature would issue him to the identical sort of uncomfortable scrutiny that led to Quackenbush’s a lot-deserved downfall.
There is one more aspect to the scenario that drips with irony.
Some of the loudest criticism of Lara is coming from Customer Watchdog, a Los Angeles group that sponsored a 1988 ballot measure to make the insurance policies commissioner an elected formal instead than 1 appointed by the governor and give the office new regulatory powers.
Right after the Union-Tribune’s revelations, Client Watchdog dispatched a letter to Lara providing him till the conclusion of July “to reveal details of these fundraising contacts or confront a lawsuit to compel his solutions.”
The Quackenbush and Lara imbroglios stem from the incorrect-headed conversion of a regulatory office to a political plum. It infuses the form of horsetrading and mutual backscratching one finds in the Legislature into what really should be a dispassionate and objective regulatory system.
If Consumer Watchdog wishes to clear up insurance coverage regulation, it should sponsor a ballot evaluate to undo what it did 31 decades back.
CALmatters is a general public fascination journalism venture committed to detailing how California’s state Capitol works and why it issues.
Belief: Coverage Commissioner Ricardo Lara’s Prolonged, Very hot Summertime was previous modified: August 6th, 2019 by
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