Ballot News: Pensions and Mercury Insurance

Posted on 02 November 2011

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By Brian Leubitz

Remember the Mercury Insurance proposition measure that was "going to give you an auto insurance discount" last year? Well, apparently Mercury CEO George Joseph didn't want to seem so heavy handed, and went out to do some non-Mercury Insurance fundraising. Except that he didn't actually go very far, he got a Mercury insurance agent to contribute!

Mercury Insurance Chairman George Joseph is no longer the sole donor to a misleading state ballot initiative that would repeal Proposition 103's prohibition against considering a driver's coverage history when a motorist applies for insurance. An insurance agency whose only past political contribution was to the Mercury Insurance sponsored Prop 17, contributed fourteen thousand dollars to the new initiative. Mercury Insurance Chairman's George Joseph has already donated over $8.1 million to the deceptive ballot measure aimed at hurting California consumers.

According to the California Secretary of State's website Abernathy Insurance Agency, a Mercury Insurance agency, contributed $14,000 to the deceptively titled "2012 Auto Insurance Discount Act, Sponsored by the American Agents Alliance with Support from California Insurance Providers for Competitive Prices and Consumer Discounts." This is only the second political contribution ever made by Abernathy Insurance Agency, according to the Secretary of State's website. Abernathy's website directs any customer looking for auto insurance to

Well, congratulations to Mr. Joseph. I'm sure everybody will see your committee and be duly impressed with the broad support for your quest to punish those who dare not to have a car for a few years.

The other major news on the initiative front is the submission of a couple measures going after public employee and teacher pensions. You know, all Wisconsin style. Rather than working with Gov. Brown, a coalition lead by former Assemblymember Roger Niello (who is looking for a new gig in the Senate) and former Schwarzenegger Director of Finance (now there's a claim to fame!) Mike Genest submitted a couple of measures of their own and say that they have the resources to get one on the ballot.

California's current and future state and local employees would pay more for their pensions under two ballot initiative proposals submitted to the state attorney general today with the intent of putting one of them to a statewide vote next year.

"Seventy percent of voters think it's time," said Dan Pellissier, president of California Pension Reform, referring to public opinion polls on public pensions.

His group, which includes a former chairman of the California Republican Party, Duf Sundheim, former GOP Assemblyman Roger Niello, Marcia Fritz, president of the Citrus Heights-based president of the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility, and Schwarzenegger finance director Mike Genest, is filing the measures for an official ballot title and summary today, less than a week after Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown rolled out a pension reform agenda last week. (SacBee StateWorker)

Note that depending on what happens with signature gathering surrounding SB202's move to make future signature-based ballot measures general election only, November may also feature the paycheck deception measure that could effectively neuter labor's political power.

Oh, and also, Obama for America is trying to get its volunteers to make calls to other states on GOTV weekend 2011 for many municipalities this weekend to remind them about how important the presidential election is. So, you know, nothing important here in California...


Brian Leubitz publishes, a leading California progressive blog covering California politics, where this article was originally published.

Good of you to mention that not having your car for a few years already means that you will pay more for insurance in California.