Former Lobbyist’s Hiring at Insurance Department Draws Fire
Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner (R) on Tuesday responded to criticism from consumer advocates for hiring a former insurance industry lobbyist as his special counsel, the Contra Costa Times reports. In his campaign for the office, Poizner said he would lead a nonpartisan, "independent and citizen-focused" insurance department.
Poizner said William Gausewitz will be one of "a large, diverse team" of advisers that will be hired. Gausewitz has worked in the government relations department at the American Insurance Association and has been a lobbyist for Farmers Insurance Group (Zapler, Contra Costa Times, 2/14).
As special counsel, Gausewitz will specialize in writing laws and regulations for insurers. He currently heads the California Office of Administrative Law, which reviews proposed government regulations to ensure legality. Gausewitz said he will maintain "the same degree of independence from the insurance industry" as counsel and would not favor insurance companies.
Gausewitz said he had severed his ties to insurance companies (Lifsher, Los Angeles Times, 2/14). He will receive an annual salary of $128,000 as special counsel (Contra Costa Times, 2/14). Gausewitz assumes the position next week (Los Angeles Times, 2/14).