George Joseph Dumps Another $500k into Sputtering Prop 33 Campaign

Posted on 02 November 2012

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By Richard Holober
Consumer Federation of California

The Yes on Proposition 33 campaign reported yesterday another contribution of $500,000 from George Joseph, billionaire owner of Mercury Insurance. This brings Mr. Joseph's total contributions to the Yes on Proposition 33 campaign to $16.9 million.

Joseph's contribution comes as the Yes on 33 campaign appears to be sputtering toward defeat. To wit:

  • Yesterday, the National Organization for Women, California issued an op-ed announcing its opposition to Proposition 33 because it raises automobile insurance rates on law abiding women and men who are good drivers. Other opponents of Prop 33 include the Older Women's League and civil rights leader and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom Dolores Huerta. Within two hours, the Yes on 33 campaign issued its retort in the form of a press release quoting Rachel Hooper as the voice of women for Proposition 33. Ms. Hooper is a full time employee of Mr. Joseph's Prop. 33 campaign.
  • Seven leading independent consumer groups announced their united opposition to Proposition 33. Prop 33's retort is to boast about the support of Greenlining Institute, which Mr. Joseph's agents dub "a consumer group." It has been revealed that Mr. Joseph and Mercury Insurance paid Greenlining $220,000 this year.

Earlier this week, the California Business Roundtable/Pepperdine University poll showed support for Proposition 33 has dropped to 48.9%. Earlier Business Roundtable polls showed the measure with support as high as 60.9%. On higher profile ballot measures that Field, PPIC, USC Dornslife and other polling organizations are tracking, it is clear that the Business Roundtable/Pepperdine poll has a conservative bias of a few points.

The more voters learn about Proposition 33, the less they like it. Mr. Joseph's latest contribution to the Yes on 33 campaign underscores what the news media has revealed in interviews with the insurance tycoon: Prop 33 is a billionaire's self-enrichment play.

Proposition 33 is an insurance deregulation initiative that eliminates the Insurance Commissioner's authority to stop arbitrary premium rate hikes on good drivers who have had a gap in continuous coverage of 90 days within the past five years. Millions of drivers would pay higher auto insurance premiums under Prop 33's rate deregulation scheme.

Other opponents of Proposition 33 include the California Alliance for Retired Americans, California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, California Democratic Party, major civil rights groups and 40 daily newspaper editorials.

Richard Holober is the Executive Director of the non-profit Consumer Federation of California, a leading consumer advocacy organization.