Getting Desperate on AB 52, Threatens Ballot Initiative on Health Insurance Rates


By Steve Maviglio  Majority Report, the publicity-hungry group that bills itself as a “consumer advocate” despite having no members and refusing to reveal its secret funders, launched a Hail Mary stunt today in an attempt to save a measure pending in the state legislature that would result in lining the organization’s pockets with millions of dollars.

Jamie Court, the group’s six-figure paid executive director, told the San Francisco Chronicle that it would launch a ballot measure to roll back health insurance rates.

Here’s why I’m calling BS on this PR stunt.

1.  ConsumerWatchdog has no money to qualify an initiative, nevermind pass it. With so many measures looking for signatures, it’s likely to cost $3 million or more to put the measure on the ballot — nevermind passing it.

2.  ConsumerWatchdog already has vowed to pour all its resources into defeating another ballot initiative from Mercury Insurance. What little political resources it has, it can’t afford a battle on two fronts.

3. ConsumerWatchdog hasn’t submitted any language to the Attorney General — and there’s no sign of it. The clock is ticking for November 2012 initiatives. The longer you wait, the more it costs to obtain signatures.

4. The proposal mentioned in the Chronicle story today already has been rejected in court when the organization tried a similar trick with auto insurance rates. The 20% rollback promised by ConsumerWatchdog was modified, with the Court saying insurers could be required to rollback rates only  to the extent that it did not deprive them of a fair rate of return.

5. And most importantly, it’s clear that today’s strike was meant as a last-ditch attempt to try  to rescue AB 52, a rate regulation bill that is floundering in the State Senate. The bill contains provisions that would have resulted in millions of more dollars for the organization. There has been talk of amendments that would require those receiving intervenor fees, like ConsumerWatchdog, to open their books for review. Despite its attacks on legislators and other groups when their financial information is disclosed, ConsumerWatchog continually rebuffs attempts by the media and regulators to discover who funds the organization.