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Senator/Former Insurance Exec Vargas Backs Insurance Billionaire’s Ballot Initiative

News that shouldn’t surprise anyone: former insurance executive and current State Senator Juan Vargas has endorsed billionaire insurance baron George Joseph’s ballot measure to surcharge drivers by as much as 40%.  The endorsement continues Senator Vargas’s rich history of putting insurance companies first and his constituents second.

While in the Assembly, Vargas chaired the California Assembly’s Insurance Committee.  During his insurance reign he was a reliable vote for the insurance industry.

  • He was a key supporter of AB 2840, a bill designed to gut consumer protections guaranteed in Prop 103 by allowing insurance companies to set premiums based on the ZIP code the driver resides; not their driving record. 
  • He voted with insurance companies and against victims to block desperately needed homeowner protections in the wake of Southern California wildfires,
  • Voted for Mercury Insurance-sponsored legislation to allow insurance companies to discriminate against drivers who did not have prior insurance coverage.  The bill would increase many low-income drivers’ premiums by as much as 40%, but the law was ruled invalid by California courts.

In appreciation of Vargas’s work on their behalf, insurance companies contributed more than the $300,000 to Vargas’s campaign coffers. 

Term limits would force Vargas out of the Assembly, from which he moved immediately into an executive office at Safeco, an insurance company based in Seattle that sells auto and homeowners insurance.  The San Diego Union-Tribune criticized Vargas’s post-Assembly career choice for flip-flopping on his promise during the congressional campaign not to take a job in the insurance industry, and reminded readers that he was “frequently taking their (Insurance companies) side” as Insurance Chairman.    

In his 2010 nail-biter of a Senate race, Juan Vargas was the beneficiary of a series of independent expenditure campaigns by Jobs PAC, a group with plenty of insurance money and one that received four donations in 2010 by Mercury Insurance Chairman George Joseph totaling $1 million.  Another group, the Civil Justice Association, whose board of directors has substantially more insurance representation than any other industry, spent $613,333 in independent expenditures in support of Vargas as well as $61,963 against Salas, Vargas’s opponent.   

This month the Civil Justice Association was fined $6,000 by the California Fair Political Practices Commission “for failing to properly reveal to the public their role on behalf of Vargas.”

Currently, Senator Vargas’s 2014 re-election committee has collected over $44,000 in donations from insurance companies; 1/4 of his total donations.

Once again we ask a simple question: When has an insurance executive and a former insurance executive spent millions to save you money on auto insurance?

The answer is still NEVER.