Prop 33: Follow the Money
By Richard Holober
Consumer Federation of California
One way to identify who Prop 33 helps and who it hurts is to follow the money behind the campaign.
The Yes on 33 campaign has outspent opponents by 65 to 1. Virtually all of the $17.7 million spent supporting Proposition 33 comes from one man - George Joseph, the billionaire owner of Mercury Insurance. Mr. Joseph has spent $17.5 million promoting Proposition 33. Another $165,000 in contributions to Yes on 33 are from insurance agents and brokers that do business with Mercury Insurance.
No on 33 has raised $275,000, with almost all donations coming from consumer groups and labor unions.
Proposition 33 would eliminate a regulation in California law that prevents automobile insurance companies from raising rates on motorists who have had a gap in continuous coverage for any reason for a period of 90 days or more in the last five years. Millions of Californians, including drivers with perfect records, would face premium rate hikes if Proposition 33 becomes the law.
In 2010, Mercury Insurance sponsored a nearly identical measure. Voters rejected Prop 17 despite $16 million in campaign spending by Mercury Insurance.
Consumer advocates urge voters to follow the Prop 33 money. Consumer groups ask, "When was the last time a billionaire insurance executive spent a fortune to save you money? Vote No on Prop 33."
Prop 33 opponents include consumer, labor, senior citizen, faith-based, women's and civil rights organizations and 40 daily newspapers.
Richard Holober is the Executive Director of the non-profit Consumer Federation of California, a leading consumer advocacy organization.