Consumer Advocacy Group Asks Senate To Reject Schwarzenegger Appointee Because of Insurance Industry Work
The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights has asked the Senate Rules Committee to reject Bill Gausewitz -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) nominee to head the Office of Administrative Law -- unless he agrees to recuse himself from all regulatory matters concerning the insurance industry, the Sacramento Bee reports. Previously, Gausewitz has served as assistant vice president of state affairs for the American Insurance Association and has opposed efforts to extend the statute of limitations on personal injury and construction defect lawsuits, as well as financial privacy laws.
According to the Bee, Gausewitz would have a "low-profile" but "far-reaching" role in the state government because he would be charged with deciding whether regulations adopted by state agencies are consistent with the law. Critics say decisions in such cases can often amount to a "judgment call," the Bee reports.
The committee on Wednesday will hold hearings on Gausewitz's nomination. The position has a salary of $123,264 per year.
Doug Heller of FTCR said, "I have no reason to think [Gausewitz] couldn't competently handle issues on logging, or school issues," but he added, "I do believe he's incapable of divorcing himself from his years of lobbying for the insurance industry."
Senate President Pro Tempore John Burton (D-San Francisco) said that Heller raises "a fair question" and that Gausewitz should disclose how he plans to deal with insurance-related issues. However, Burton "indicated he is not overly concerned" about the issue, the Bee reports. He said, "Sometimes it's good to have a fox guarding the henhouse" (Talev, Sacramento Bee, 8/18).