Prop 33 Defeated: Voters Say No to Billionaire's Money Grab
By Richard Holober
Consumer Federation of California
California voters rejected Proposition 33, an initiative placed on the ballot by billionaire George Joseph, owner of Mercury Insurance. Led by Consumer Watchdog, opponents came out of nowhere to stop Mercury Insurance's attempt to lure voters into deregulating automobile insurance. Outspent 70 to 1, we overcame a $17.5 million campaign of deception from Mercury's George Joseph.
The statewide election night tally shows 54.7% of Californians voting No, and 45.3% voting Yes on Prop 33. This represents a steep drop in support compared to the outcome on a nearly identical Mercury Insurance-funded measure, Prop 17 in 2010. As absentee ballots that were turned in at polling places yesterday are counted over the coming weeks, we expect the margin of defeat to increase.
Prop 33 was opposed by virtually every organization that was not on Mercury's payroll or financially linked to the lobbyist who ran the Yes on 33 campaign. Opponents included every independent consumer group, labor, civil rights, senior, and women's organizations, faith communities, student leaders and 40 daily newspaper editorials.
George Joseph helped demolish the Yes on 33 campaign's lies when he admitted that the bogus discounts that Prop 33 promised were nothing more than camouflage for his real objective: legalizing steep premium rate hikes on good drivers.
The defeat of Proposition 33 sends a loud message that Californians are not easily hoodwinked into supporting corporate self-enrichment schemes, no matter how much is spent to mislead voters.
Richard Holober is the Executive Director of the non-profit Consumer Federation of California, a leading consumer advocacy organization.