(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Amid ongoing lawsuits and scandals involving California’s Insurance Commissioner, legislation by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D – Marin County) to regulate individuals paid to influence insurance merger decisions was unanimously approved by a key Assembly committee today. The bipartisan approval of AB 1783 (Levine) is one of many legislative efforts by Levine to restore ethics and transparency at a state agency plagued by compromised leadership.
Shortly after Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara took office in 2019, Lara met with paid “consultants” who sought to influence the approval of an insurance company acquisition while evading public disclosure laws for lobbying activity. These “consultants” were to be paid a $2 million contingency fee if they successfully influenced Commissioner Lara to approve the merger. Lara subsequently approved the merger sought by these “consultants”, while avoiding public disclosure of their financial relationship with the insurance company.
AB 1783 would require anyone paid to influence mergers and acquisitions of domestic insurance companies or health care service plans to register as a lobbyist and comply with lobbyist reporting and disclosure requirements. Levine’s bill will close a disturbing loophole that have allowed a person to circumvent lobbying rules and regulations.
“Commissioner Lara’s Department of Insurance has failed us in many ways over the past three years,” said Assemblymember Marc Levine. “Californians need to regain trust in the Department of Insurance and have faith that the public officials entrusted to protect consumers are fighting for them, not for insurance companies or their paid consultants’ fat pay days. AB 1783 is an important tool necessary to restore ethics and transparency in the Department of Insurance and continue the Department’s mission to fight for consumers across the state.”
AB 1783 (Levine) now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for further consideration.