Stedge-Stroud, Brian

Brian Stedge-Stroud works for Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing an effective voice for taxpayers and consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics.

Ballot Initative's Real Aim: Consumer Pocketbooks

By Brian Stedge-Stroud, Consumer Watchdog
North County Times

A billionaire insurance executive is spending $8 million on a November ballot measure to undermine a key consumer protection that has saved California drivers more than $62 billion since 1988.

Common sense leads to one basic question: When has a billionaire insurance executive spent $8 million just to save drivers money?

The real aim of the ballot initiative, sponsored by Mercury Insurance Chairman George Joseph, is to increase premiums by as much as 40 percent for millions of Californians seeking new or renewed auto insurance. Those most affected include graduating students entering the workforce, Californians who previously used mass transit, and the long-term unemployed who are getting back to work.

Billionaire Insurance Baron Tries to Buy Off California Republican Party

By Brian Stedge-Stroud
Consumer Watchdog

Billionaire insurance baron George Joseph, Chairman of Mercury Insurance, is attempting to buy the endorsement of the California Republican State Party for his November insurance ballot measure. The insurance executive and “Forbes 400” billionaire is the party’s largest donor for the past two years. In 2010, when the Republican Party endorsed Joseph’s prior attempt to pass the same auto insurance surcharge initiative, Joseph donated $1 million to the Republican Party. He recently donated another $1 million in October 2011 to the California Republican Party.

The insurance billionaire’s ballot measure would penalize good drivers as much as $1,000/year for auto insurance. Consumer Watchdog Campaign and Consumer Federation of California were joined by Sharada Polavarapu, a San Francisco resident who relies solely on mass transit, to call on the Republican Party to oppose this ballot initiative as an attack on the middle class.