Tuesday, May 09, 2006

California Insurance Commissioner Gone Mad

California Commissioner of Insurance John Garamendi, who is running for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor, gives the appearance of having lost his mind. Yesterday, the Commissioner issued a press release claiming that the insurance industry was attempting to "blackmail" him by threatening a $2 million ad campaign if he did not delay implementation of some new auto insurance regulations. The press release is somewhat shocking because its language is so incendiary. The accusation, even if correct, would be nearly impossible to prove, as the industry can easily say that their only purpose is to oppose regulations that they consider harmful. The ads refer to Garamendi by name and suggest that his proposed regulations will cause auto insurance rates to rise, but they do not mention his run for Lieutenant Governor. While a few people might believe his allegations of blackmail, a larger number might accuse him of attempting to stifle legitimate political speech.

Today, Garamendi followed that press release with another urging a federal and state investigation of his blackmail allegations. All of this gives Garamendi the appearance of desperation, in spite of the fact that polls show him leading the race for the nomination. My sources in Sacramento could offer no explanation as to why Garamendi was pushing this in such an over the top fashion, other than to say that it is California and stuff happens that can't be understood anywhere else.

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