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Please Vote No On Prop 33 Today

1:04 pm in Uncategorized by Consumer Watchdog

Stop Prop 33

For the last 25 years, I’ve worked day and night to keep insurance rates low here in California. That’s why I’m OPPOSED to PROP 33, the Mercury Insurance Company Initiative…and I need your help to get the word out.

Prop 33 will allow insurance companies to raise rates on good drivers who’ve done nothing wrong. It legalizes huge surcharges (hundreds, or even thousands of dollars) on consumers just because they did not previously have auto insurance – even if they didn’t own a car, or didn’t drive. Motorists would pay more if they had a lengthy lapse in coverage through no fault of their own – because they were sick or haven’t been able to get a job since the 2008 financial crash.

We all know the special interests are trying to steal the election today. But I still couldn’t believe it when I opened the Los Angeles Times this past weekend and saw a huge ad featuring two people claiming to be former state “insurance commissioners,” saying that Proposition 33 will help consumers. They both work for the insurance industry!

The billionaire chairman of Mercury Insurance, a company that has consistently misled regulators and broken state insurance rules, paid for that deceitful advertisement and the entire Prop 33 deceptive campaign. He’s spent $17 million so far. We don’t have the millions to fight back with our own ads. But you can help me defeat Prop 33 by warning your family and friends to VOTE NO ON PROP 33.

Forward this blog to them, or use this link to send them an email, post it on your Facebook page or tweet it before polls close tonight.

The Prop 33 surcharges were a huge problem back in the 1980s, and led to more uninsured motorists on the road and higher rates for everyone. That’s why, when I wrote Proposition 103 back in 1987, I put in a protection against these surcharges, and we Californians passed it. Proposition 33 actually repeals that protection.

Prop 33 will punish students, seniors, mass transit commuters, even military spouses and veterans.

Just ask yourself this question: When was the last time an insurance company and its executives put a proposition on the ballot to save you and me money?

Never.

In fact, a few days ago Mercury Insurance Chairman George Joseph admitted to a Los Angeles Times reporter that he’s just using the initiative process to make more money for himself and his company.

That’s why every major newspaper in California is urging people to vote NO on 33.

Just two years ago, California voters rejected a ballot measure by Mercury Insurance that was almost identical to Proposition 33.

We can beat them again today, but only if you help me get out the word today.

Please urge your family and friends to vote NO on Prop 33. Forward this blog to them, or use this link to send them an email, post it on your Facebook page or tweet it before the polls close tonight!

Thanks for all your support,

Harvey Rosenfield

Harvey Rosenfield
Founder of Consumer Watchdog

Jim Crow Insurance: CA Prop 33 Turns Back The Clock To Price Discrimination In Auto Insurance

12:48 pm in Uncategorized by Consumer Watchdog

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Revelations of discrimination by insurance companies are always shocking, but when they come out just days before a vote on an industry-sponsored ballot measure that would legalize unfair price increases and prejudice in auto insurance, Californians should pay particular attention.

A former insurance agent from the Auto Club of Southern California just blew the whistle on a scheme at the company that led to discrimination. The allegations come just as California voters take up Prop 33, a ballot measure financed with $16 million by one insurance executive, Mercury Insurance chairman George Joseph, that will allow auto insurance companies to surcharge motorists just because they didn’t buy insurance in the past, even if they didn’t own a car.

A new poll from the California Business Roundtable, whose numbers consistently tilt in favor of big business that funds it, shows voters have turned against Prop 33, with support dropping to 48% as the public learns about the proposal and the billionaire insurance executive who is behind it.

The Auto Club of Southern California insurance agent Jill Rogers exposed how the insurance company financially penalized agents for writing policies for new drivers and those without prior insurance, including those who did not drive previously. She said agents hung up on customers who did not have prior insurance and quoted them the most expensive policies, because the agents would only receive a $20 commission on those policies. For those who had continuous coverage, the Auto Club would pay its agents $100 to $500.

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Call it Jim Crow Insurance. It’s illegal to charge more to new drivers and those with lapses in coverage in California, so insurance companies find other ways to keep them off the roll.

Clearly auto insurance companies don’t like to insure new drivers and those who had a lapse in their coverage, even though they are prevented by law from charging them more. Prop 33 would open the door to outright price discrimination.

As husband of an African American woman, I have seen racial discrimination first hand, including misplaced reservations, overcharges and other indignities endured by my wife and family on a fairly regular basis. Jill Rogers’ description of how insurance companies financially pressure agents, who in turn drop phone calls and misquote certain types of drivers, rings a bell. And this occurs in a system where it is already illegal to charge more to people who did not drive previously because they could not afford insurance.

How much worse will it be if Prop 33 made such price discrimination legal for all insurance companies?

We know from history. Shortly after California imposed tough mandatory insurance laws in the 1980s, a group of inner city residents sued because they were being forced by the state to buy auto insurance but could not afford it: Insurance companies were charging them thousands of dollars per year for auto insurance because of the ZIP-code they lived in and the fact that they did not have insurance previously.

Auto insurance companies, including George Joseph’s Mercury Insurance, the backer of the current Prop 33 proposal, essentially drew a “redline” around their communities and used these two pricing factors to keep African Americans and Latinos out of the auto insurance market.

Justice Allen Broussard of the California Supreme Court wrote: “This case arises from the attempt of the California Legislature to solve a serious social problem – the uninsured driver – without taking into account an equally serious problem – insurance pricing practices which make automobile liability insurance prohibitively expensive for many of the urban poor.”

Broussard, the second African American justice to serve on the California Supreme Court, noted that the plaintiffs “speak also of the reluctance of insurance companies to insure persons who were previously uninsured, a problem of particular concern since the purpose of the 1984 legislation was to compel such persons to obtain insurance.”

In its decision in the seminal King v Meese case, the California Supreme Court said it sympathized with the plaintiffs but told them to turn to the legislature, which then refused to act. Voters took matters into their own hands in 1988 with Prop 103 and banned the power of insurance companies to charge new drivers and those without previous insurance more for auto insurance.

Now, 24 years later, Prop 33 would reverse the ban and allow companies to again charge new drivers and those without insurance more for auto insurance.

Anyone who doubts that Prop 33 is about giving insurance companies the power to discriminate just needs to listen to Jill Rogers.

Joseph, who has tried to overturn this and others prohibitions on discrimination in the courts and legislature for two decades, before losing a nearly identical ballot measure to Prop 33 just two years, finally admitted to the LA Times recently that he would use Prop 33 to charge more to new people in the market. Afterall, when was the last time an insurance company billionaire spent $16 million on a ballot measure to save you money?

And if you doubt that such price discrimination would fall hardest on people of color, consider that the unemployment rates among whites is 7.5% and among blacks 14.1% percent and Latinos 10.2%. People of color are going to be the most likely to have to stop driving for economic reasons, and Prop 33 will slam them with 40% premium increases when they come back in the insurance market. That’s exactly how much Mercury Insurance charged those who didn’t drive previously when the sponsor of Prop 33 and his company were caught illegally surcharging them in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Prop 33 hurts all of us by putting more uninsured motorists on the road, and raising our uninsured motorists premiums, but it’s attempt to punish communities of color is outrageous.

Prop 33 is a deceptive initiative designed to bring us back to the day when insurance companies could price certain types of people out of the insurance market. That’s why consumer groups, civil rights groups like MALDEF and Equal Justice Society, as well every major newspaper editorial board in the state oppose it.

Recently civil rights leader Dolores Huerta spoke out against Prop 33. “We should be wary when a billionaire funds a self-enrichment ballot scheme,” said Huerta. “We will all pay if insurance discrimination against the poor and communities of color is brought back. Please join me in voting NO on Prop 33.”

Judging by the most recent poll, and thanks to whistleblowers like Jill Rogers, Californians seem to be agreeing with Huerta.
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Originally posted on 11/1/2012 on the Huffington Post. Posted by Jamie Court, author of The Progressive’s Guide to Raising Hell and President of Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing an effective voice for taxpayers and consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

Stop Billionaires From Buying the Vote

2:53 pm in Uncategorized by Consumer Watchdog

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We have just one week to beat the insurance billionaires trying to buy this election.

We plastered these posters around the streets of San Francisco and Los Angeles to expose these deceptive billionaire propositions. Can you help us make sure more voters know?

Please post our new posters on Facebook today. Don’t use Facebook? Share the posters directly from our website here.

Our grassroots campaign against Prop 33 has just a few hundred thousand dollars to compete with the $16.4 million spent by insurance billionaire George Joseph, chairman of Mercury Insurance.

PhotobucketAnd last week, Charlie Munger Jr., the heir to the Berkshire Hathaway fortune including GEICO Insurance, sank another $13 million – for a total $35 million – into the campaign for Prop 32.

Prop 32 will take away workers’ voices in Sacramento but preserve the power of big corporations and wealthy individuals – like Munger and Joseph – to spend unlimited amounts in elections. Prop 33 will deregulate auto insurance and allow insurance companies to raise rates on good drivers just because they decide to stop driving for awhile.

We’ve got just 7 days left to expose these billionaires and stop them from buying the election.

Please share our posters on Facebook, or find the posters on our website and email your friends.

Your voice can beat the money spent by these insurance billionaires, but only if you help us spread the word. Tell your friends to vote No on Props 32 and 33 today!

An Open Letter to The Insurance Billionaires Behind Props 32 & 33

9:00 pm in Uncategorized by Consumer Watchdog

No On 32 and 33

In an open letter today, the California Nurses Association and Consumer Watchdog challenged the billionaire financiers of Propositions 32 and 33 to a public, televised debate.

Will Charles Munger Jr. and George Joseph defend the measures attacking working people that they’ve spent $39 million promoting? Or will they continue to hide in the shadows behind their PR flacks and deceptive TV advertising?

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October 24, 2012

Mr. Charles Munger Jr. and Mr. George Joseph:

Gentlemen, the California Nurses Association and Consumer Watchdog invite you, the primary financial sponsors of Propositions 32 and 33, to join us for a public debate on the merits and adverse consequences of these measures and the impact they will have on all Californians.

We call for a debate that would be hosted by a journalist of mutual agreement in a televised forum at your earliest convenience.

To date, Californians have heard a great deal about the reputed benefits of Propositions 32 and 33, but only from one-­‐sided political ads that hardly provide a fair or complete picture.

As the biggest financial contributors to these initiatives, for which you have already contributed a combined $39 million, your silence on these measures, which will have far-­‐reaching effects on all Californians, does a great disservice to the public.

If the initiatives you have so lavishly financed really will achieve the promises you claim in your advertisements, you should welcome the opportunity to stand up in public and defend them. We call on you to do so now.

As you no doubt know, our organizations sharply disagree with both the content of these initiatives, and the misleading way in which you have promoted them.

Proposition 32 is a misleading measure which claims to be legitimate campaign finance reform, but has been exposed as anything but that by virtually every newspaper in California. It would exempt corporate interests, shadowy super PACS, and the super wealthy like both of you while silencing the voices of nurses, consumer advocates, and others who would challenge your views.

Proposition 33 reverses a 24-­‐year-­‐old consumer protection that prohibits auto insurance companies from charging drivers more for car insurance just because they didn’t drive previously or otherwise had a break in coverage. Opposed by Consumers Union, Consumer Watchdog and nearly every newspaper editorial board in California, Proposition 33 allows insurance companies to penalize good drivers who did nothing wrong other than not drive and not buy insurance. Nonetheless television advertising running statewide falsely claims Proposition 33 “rewards responsible consumers.”

We know that more and more Californians are appalled at the specter of billionaires and multi-­‐millionaires corrupting our political process and would like to hear answers from those spending so much in this campaign. First and foremost, they would ask: Are the $22.9 million and $16.4 million checks you have written for Propositions 32 and 33, respectively, aimed at anything more than buying the vote for personal and political gain?

It’s time for you to step out of the shadows. The voters deserve to see and hear from the people responsible for Props 32 and 33, rather than the same old sound bites from the deceptive advertising your millions pay for.

Voters need to look you in the eye to gauge your sincerity, and judge your motives. The voters being bombarded with your advertising spin now deserve no less.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

DeAnn McEwen, RN
Co-­‐president, California Nurses Association

Jamie Court
President, Consumer Watchdog

Top Ten Reasons California Newspapers Say We Should Vote No on Prop 33

5:16 pm in Uncategorized by Consumer Watchdog

Prop 33 Is A Measure Backed by One Insurance Billionaire To Raise Rates On Good Drivers

License plate of car in traffic ' Yu Crazy'

Photo: Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr

Consumer Watchdog Campaign today compiled ten of the most compelling reasons Californians should vote NO on Proposition 33, as reported by newspapers and editorial boards across the state.

“Consumer and public interest groups are being outspent 50 to 1 by an insurance billionaire who has thrown $16 million into Prop 33 in order to cherry pick customers and raise rates on good drivers in California,” said Carmen Balber of the No on Prop 33 Campaign. “Voters should look to trusted sources to sort through the truth about how Prop 33 will hurt consumers.”

Top ten reasons Californians should vote NO on Prop 33:

1. Prop 33 will raise rates on new drivers.

George Joseph, the insurance billionaire behind Prop 33, acknowledged to the Los Angeles Times “on Sunday that Prop 33 will raise rates on new drivers. As columnist Mike Hiltzik reported: “He made no bones about the fact that the ‘proper rate’ for customers coming to Mercury as newly insured policyholders is much higher than what he can charge them now.”

2. Prop 33 will allow insurers to cherry pick their preferred customers and raise rates on everyone else.

Riverside Press-Enterprise editorial: “”The idea that the head of an insurance company would spend millions of dollars to save drivers money defies all credibility. No, a different and self-interested agenda drives this measure: poaching lucrative customers from rivals while encouraging less desirable customers to go elsewhere. Californians have no reason to reward that kind of special-interest scheme, and voters should reject Prop. 33.”

3. California voters said NO to an almost identical measure at the ballot two years ago.

San Jose Mercury-News editorial: “Two years ago billionaire George Joseph, chairman of Mercury Insurance, spent $16 million of the company’s money on Proposition 17, a direct attack on California’s strong insurance rights laws. Like an irritating mosquito, Joseph and his millions are back again this year with Proposition 33, essentially a new version of the law voters rejected two years ago.”

4. Prop 33 will raise the number of uninsured drivers in California.

Read the rest of this entry →

Prop 33 Game Changer

3:07 pm in Uncategorized by Consumer Watchdog

Prop 33 Billionaire Financier George Joseph

Incredible! With two weeks until Election Day, the insurance billionaire behind Prop 33 finally admitted his auto insurance initiative will raise rates on new customers.

Los Angeles Times columnist Mike Hiltzik drew the admission from Mercury Insurance Chairman Joseph in Sunday’s newspaper.

When the billionaire writing the $16 million check for Prop 33 speaks about his initiative raising auto insurance rates, voters should listen. 

But will voters hear Prop 33’s financier over the deceptive television advertising he has bought claiming only that Prop 33 will “reward responsible drivers”?

You can help us get out the word by posting the link to Sunday’s LA Times column (http://lat.ms/TCDqH4) on your Facebook timeline, tweeting it or sharing it with your friends from the newspaper’s site.

In Sunday’s Los Angeles Times, Joseph acknowledged that Prop 33 is a marketing strategy for his insurance company that will allow him to cherry pick his customers “if I could charge new people the proper rate.”

As Hiltzik reports, “He made no bones about the fact that the ‘proper rate’ for customers coming to Mercury as newly insured policyholders is much higher than what he can charge them now.”

Voters banned the power of insurance companies to raise rates on first time drivers and others who did not previously have auto insurance in 1988. Prop 33 would turn back the clock on auto insurance regulation in this state.

Will you help us spread the word about Prop 33’s big lie?

Joseph said that if Prop 33 doesn’t pass it will be “a tremendous waste of money.” Better his than ours! Please share this critical news story today.
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Posted by Jamie Court, author of The Progressive’s Guide to Raising Hell and President of Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing an effective voice for taxpayers and consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

Top Five Reasons the Insurance Company Behind Prop 33 Can’t Be Trusted

4:45 pm in Uncategorized by Consumer Watchdog

Sacramento Bee Ad Watch Says Prop 33 TV Ads “Mislead”

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The insurance billionaire behind Prop 33 is asking California voters to believe that he wants to overturn laws that have protected consumers for 24 years to save consumers money. Consumer Watchdog Campaign today released the “Top Five Reasons You Can’t Trust Mercury Insurance,” outlining the company’s troubling history as a renegade insurance company that routinely defies the law and abuses consumers, as reasons this insurance executive and his company can’t be trusted.

Also today, a Sacramento Bee Ad Watch analysis found that a Prop 33 TV ad is “misleading,” because it hides the fact that it will raise rates on good drivers who have a break in their insurance for almost any reason, and because it “features a testimonial from a motorist without disclosing she works for Proposition 33’s campaign team.”

Read the Sacramento Bee story

Mercury Insurance chairman George Joseph has spent $16 million on Prop 33.

“The lies in the Prop 33 ads are the latest but not the last in Mercury Insurance’s long history of deceiving and abusing consumers, and willfully breaking the law to boost its own bottom line at the expense of its customers. Voters should be warned that they can’t trust a word this insurance billionaire says about Prop 33, or a single TV sound bite coming from his $16 million campaign to fool the public,” said Carmen Balber with Consumer Watchdog Campaign.

The California Department of Insurance stated in an agency enforcement action against Mercury: “Mercury has a deserved reputation for abusing its customers and intentionally violating the law with arrogance and indifference.”

Find that statement here (Page 4)

The Top Five Reasons You Can’t Trust Mercury Insurance:

Read the rest of this entry →

Insurer Caught Red-Handed Lying In Prop 33 TV Ad – Warn Your Friends

11:43 am in Uncategorized by Consumer Watchdog

You won’t believe this!

The insurance billionaire behind Prop 33 isn’t just lying about his phony proposal in the television ads airing this week. He is actually using paid employees to impersonate “real drivers” and not disclosing it to voters. We have the proof in this short video.

Please watch the short video exposing the Prop 33 campaign’s big lies and share it with all the California voters you know to warn them.

Campaign finance law requires that campaigns disclose if they are using paid spokespeople in their television ads, but the insurer-funded Prop 33 campaign didn’t disclose to viewers that it used two employees of its paid PR firm in advertisements to pose as average drivers.

You can help spread the word. Watch the short video and post it to your Facebook, Twitter and other accounts.

California voters shouldn’t be deceived by one insurance billionaire, Mercury Insurance’s George Joseph, who has spent $8.4 million to pass Prop 33. Our friends, family and co-workers deserve to know the truth.

When was the last time an insurance billionaire spent $8.4 million on a ballot measure to save consumers money?

Please join us in warning California voters.

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Posted by Jamie Court, President of Consumer Watchdog Campaign and leader of StopProp33.com. For more information about the campaign visit us on Facebook and on Twitter.

New survey: Americans don’t want insurance rates tied to prior insurance coverage

4:16 pm in Uncategorized by Consumer Watchdog

Doug Heller

The Consumer Federation of America released a new report earlier this week assessing consumer views on the factors insurance companies use to set premiums around the country. Not surprisingly, Americans think that insurance rates should be based primarily on motorists’ driving safety record (87% and 85% of respondents believe rates should reflect a driver’s number of accidents and tickets, respectively).

More than a majority of Americans think it’s unfair to consider the ZIP-code in which you live or your occupation. More than two-thirds (68%) call it unfair to charge drivers more if they did not have insurance because they did not previously have a car. This data point should interest Californians, because there’s an initiative on the November ballot – Proposition 33 – that would allow insurance companies to penalize people based on this precise factor that 68% of Americans consider unfair.

Proposition 33 was put on the ballot by Mercury Insurance’s billionaire Chairman, and his $8 million campaign conveniently ignores the fact that the initiative allows insurance companies to raise prices on drivers who didn’t previously have insurance because they didn’t have a car. No doubt, his pollsters are telling him the same thing that the national survey reports: Americans don’t think his scheme is fair. (So if people think your initiative is unfair, your only option is to run a deceptive ad campaign filled with disingenuous patriotism and hope people can’t see the trick you’ve hidden behind that flag.)

But back to today’s report for a moment. Another interesting thing Consumer Federation did was look at rates around the country and show the effect of a variety of rating factors, including prior insurance coverage. Two things stand out:

  1. Where most companies in most states dramatically jack up the rates on customers who do not have prior insurance when they want to buy a policy, Californians’ premiums are unaffected by that factor because it is illegal to apply it in California. The whole point of Prop 33 is to make California more like these other states in a bad way.
  2. Generally speaking, rates in Los Angeles, California are both lower than the other big cities tested and more stable after testing for factors considered unfair, such as ZIP Code, occupation, prior insurance and credit scoring. In other words, the insurance reforms Californians installed through Proposition 103 in 1988 not only apply standards of fairness to the marketplace, they have created a competitive and lower priced market as well.

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Posted by Doug Heller, Executive Director of Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing an effective voice for taxpayers and consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

Consumer Group Calls On Insurance Billionaire To Withdraw Deceptive Prop 33 Advertisements

7:03 pm in Uncategorized by Consumer Watchdog

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Consumer advocates today called on the insurance company executive behind Proposition 33 to immediately withdraw new radio advertisements that mischaracterize the impact of the initiative on foreign service and military personnel in the wake of attacks on US embassies abroad.

In statewide radio advertisements paid for by Mercury insurance executive George Joseph, the Proposition 33 campaign erroneously claims soldiers will be able to keep auto insurance discounts they now lose, and that Prop 33 is about “supporting our heroes.” In fact, foreign service officers would be surcharged under the proposal for not driving while working oversees when they restart their auto insurance in California. Moreover, Prop 33 will not protect any current discount for soldiers.

In a letter sent to Mercury Chairman Joseph today, Consumer Watchdog wrote: “Out of respect for military officers and foreign service employees, who face life-threatening circumstances at our embassies abroad, we call upon you to immediately withdraw your deceptive and disrespectful radio advertising campaign in favor of Proposition 33.”

Download Consumer Watchdog’s letter here, or read text below

Listen to the Prop 33 radio ad here

A Los Angeles Times opinion staff blog published yesterday took the campaign to task for the deceptive ad: “The 30-second spot declares: ‘Proposition 33 protects our veterans and military families, and allows them to keep their discount on car insurance, saving them money.’ It would do nothing of the kind.”

Read the Times blog here:

Consumer Watchdog’s letter continued: “Your radio advertisement claims Prop 33 is about “supporting our heroes.” But under Prop 33, good drivers who have stopped driving for legitimate reasons – like serving abroad in our foreign service – would be hit with large surcharges if they decided to drive again and buy insurance in California. For political reasons, you exempted from Prop 33’s large rate increases a small segment of those who stop driving for legitimate reasons, active duty military officers. That certainly does not mean you are helping soldiers keep a discount. Moreover, foreign service officers, families of military officers, disabled veterans and others who stop driving for good reason, but cannot prove active duty military service is the reason for their coverage lapse, would get slammed under Prop 33 with big rate hikes.”

This month, Joseph also gave $195,000 to a nonprofit organization for its support of Proposition 33 in another attempt to mislead voters about the impact of Prop 33 and camouflage its insurance industry backing. Joseph gave 99%, $8.4 million, of the funds in support of Prop 33.

The measure would overturn a 24-year-old law banning discriminatory practices by auto insurance companies that were brought to light in a 1987 California civil rights case, King v. Meese. Proposition 103, passed by the voters in 1988, banned auto insurers from charging more, or refusing to sell insurance, to people who were not previously insured.

Read more about Proposition 33 at www.StopProp33.org

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September 13, 2012

Mr. Joseph,

Out of respect for military officers and foreign service employees, who face life-threatening circumstances at our embassies abroad, we call upon you to immediately withdraw your deceptive and disrespectful radio advertising campaign in favor of Proposition 33.

You began your disingenuous “Heroes” radio advertising campaign for Proposition 33, the California ballot measure for which you have given 99% of the funding, the day after September 11th with the hope of fanning patriotic sentiments for your insurance company’s cause. You could not have known that those cynical advertisements – which misrepresent your measure’s impact on our nation’s military, their families and foreign service officers – would air when American military and foreign service members are under grave threat worldwide.

Nonetheless, you now have an obligation not to betray the seriousness of the current circumstances our heroes face abroad with radio advertisements that lie about what Prop 33 does in their name.

As the Los Angeles Times editorial staff blog noted Wednesday:

“Proposition 33, an initiative to let auto insurers offer discounts to competitors’ customers, isn’t quite the same as Proposition 17, a similar proposal that voters rejected in 2010. But the campaign in favor of the measure seems to be following the same truth-distorting playbook.

“The Yes on Proposition 33 campaign has bought airtime on 19 radio stations in five cities for what appears to be its first commercial, which is due to begin broadcasting Wednesday. The 30-second spot declares: ‘Proposition 33 protects our veterans and military families, and allows them to keep their discount on car insurance, saving them money.’

“It would do nothing of the kind.”

As you well know, Prop 33 has nothing to do with military officers keeping any discount under current law. All your initiative does is legalize a now-illegal rating factor: Whether a driver has had auto insurance continuously or not.

Your radio advertisement claims Prop 33 is about “supporting our heroes.” But under Prop 33, good drivers who have stopped driving for legitimate reasons – like serving abroad in our foreign service – would be hit with large surcharges if they decided to drive again and buy insurance in California. For political reasons, you exempted from Prop 33’s large rate increases a small segment of those who stop driving for legitimate reasons, active duty military officers. That certainly does not mean you are helping soldiers keep a discount. Moreover, foreign service officers, families of military officers, disabled veterans and others who stop driving for good reason, but cannot prove active duty military service is the reason for their coverage lapse, would get slammed under Prop 33 with big rate hikes.

Mr. Joseph, you have repeatedly cited your experience as a veteran to justify why one insurance company billionaire should be allowed to change the insurance laws through Proposition 33. We urge you to take a moment of silence to think like a veteran now and withdraw these advertisements.

Sincerely,
Jamie Court