Insurance Commissioner Race Generates Direct, Indirect Funding

So far, the two main candidates for insurance commissioner in California have spent a total of about $4 million in direct money on this campaign, according to the Secretary of State’s office, with another estimated $3 million coming from independent expenditures, or IEs — ads produced independently but that support a specific candidate or attack his opponent.

According to government expenditure records, Republican Mike Villines, a member of the Assembly from Clovis, has about $850,000 to spend on this election. He also has benefited from about $2.2 million in spending by JobsPAC, the political action committee of the California Chamber of Commerce.

In contrast, the campaign of Democrat Dave Jones, Assembly member from Sacramento, has raised almost $3 million. He has received another $590,000 in spending by various special interest groups, mostly labor and law interests, with most of it coming from the California Alliance.

Both candidates have said they won’t take money from the insurance industry, but say they have no control over how the IEs get and spend money. The insurance industry has reportedly contributed about $3 million into the Chamber of Commerce’s JobsPAC.

The insurance commissioner will have a big impact on how California implements national health care reform. The commissioner oversees about 1,300 employees and a $210 million annual budget.

The department regulates and enforces laws dealing with every kind of insurance — home, life, auto, property and health insurance. Altogether, that has been estimated as a $124 billion industry in California.

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