What Gulf Coast Congressman Gene Taylor wanted the Easter Bunny to bring him.
South Mississippi Living 4/07

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Miss. Insurance Commissioner Finds Self in Political Harm's Way

by Ana Maria

Once again, Mr. Foot-in-Mouth Diseased Insurance Commissioner of the State of Mississippi—George Dale—has implied that the majority of Americans ought to move. That’s right, George Dale thinks that the 55% of Americans whom the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency reported live within 50 miles of our nation’s gloriously beautiful coastlines should move from our homes, families, communities, places of worship, jobs, and friends . . . and that if we don’t, then—by George—we get what we deserve from the worst of Mother Nature.

Oh, George, you are such a horse’s patoot!

Rather than having worked tirelessly as an exceedingly strong, faithful, and compassionate advocate on behalf of every Mississippi family and business owner—especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, George Dale has spent his tenure being in the pocket of the very insurance industry he is responsible for regulating.

Gary Anderson is Dale’s opponent in next week’s Democratic primary. Anderson’s television ad asserts that Dale has received $260,000 in campaign contributions from the insurance industry and raised insurance rates 29%.

Mississippians for Fair Elections is running a television ad asserting that the insurance industry is denying valid claims all over the state while making over $60 billion in profits in 2006 alone. The ad asserts further asserts that George Dale raised insurance rates implying that raising the rates may be the reason the industry has invested over $200,000 in his campaign.

A month and a half or so ago, Dale clearly showed his hand to the Clarksdale Lion’s Club.

Katrina was “the worst natural disaster in U.S. history . . . and put an undue burden on insurance companies.”
Yeah, I feel so sorry for the corporate fat cats whose boards of directors have insisted on drowning their CEOs in millions. State Farm increased the salary of its CEO by 82%. Last year, Allstate gave its CEO a $5 million annual raise on top of a nearly $10 million bonus. That sure would have paid for an awful lot of homes and businesses to be repaired.

Heck, rather thandefending the billions in profits from an industry that is hurting his own Mississippi people, George Dale should have pro-actively sent down boatloads of folks from his office—hired more if needed—to help his constituents fill out the paperwork to get the insurance claims filed and to apply for the state grants. Then, Dale should have led the charge to ensure that the insurance companies honored their legal contracts rather than pull the “wind vs. water” baloney he apparently allowed to go unchecked.

We have elderly and mentally disabled folks. We have folks simply devastated from the magnitude of Katrina’s force. We have folks exhausted from battling insurance companies. The commissioner of insurance should have battled the insurance giants on behalf of his constituents. Instead, Dale forced these good people of all political, religious, and economic backgrounds to turn to trial attorneys such as our state’s very own Dickey Scruggs to get the helping hand they needed from a good friend.

To my knowledge, Dale has NEVER mentioned the significant burden that the insurance companies have placed on Mississippi families and businesses by refusing to pay legitimate claims on their wind policies. No, he has not used his office as a bully pulpit to get the insurance companies to honor their contracts. Rather, Dale is using the power of his office to bully Mississippians who live on the Gulf Coast into believing that we deserve no help from our government or our insurance company regardless of whatever bad weather comes our way damaging our homes, our businesses, our communities, and our places of worship . . . and no matter the legal contract we had signed up for with our insurance company. Oh, George, how utterly vile and contemptible.

Now that he is in a tough election campaign for the job he has held for 32 years, Dale is choosing to attack the fact that his constituents live on one of America’s coastlines. Speaking recently before the Rotary Club in Columbus, Miss., Dale asked

Mississippi Insurance Commissioner George Dale
Dale discusses Katrina's impact on insurance, campaign
The Commercial Dispatch
Excuse me?! Since when is Dale in charge of determining whether a geographic area constitutes being in “harm’s way”?

Perhaps George Dale would like to list the “safe” geographical places in our nation so that the 55% of us who live within 50 miles of our nation’s “unsafe” coastlines can immediately pack up and move to this alleged “safe place”. By the way, according to the Census Bureau, 55% of our nation’s population equals 167 million Americans. I wonder where George is anticipating us to move? Where exactly is this fictitious place where we can live outside of harm’s way?

If that list of “safe from all of Mother Nature” isn’t at Dale’s finger tips, perhaps some of his buddies inside Big Insurance can provide him with it—should such a list exist. Of course, where ever these “safe-from-Mother-Nature” cities and towns are, well, surely to goodness our need for insurance will evaporate into thin air. After all, as the “billionaire insurance titan” himself stated

But really, why would George stop at recommending only the 55% of Americans who live within 50 miles of America’s magnificent coastlines? He had told the Columbus Rotarians

over $122 million in claims have been paid in Hinds County alone, which is more than 150 miles inland.

Shall we infer that Dale will eventually recommend that any American who lives within 150 miles of our coastlines also deserve whatever Mother Nature dishes out and perhaps should move in order to obtain insurance and governmental assistance? What an utterly ridiculous thing to consider. The whole thing is George Dale’s attempt to deflect from answering key questions.

Why is George Dale running away from his post-Katrina record on the coast? He’s so ashamed of it that he didn’t even buy any air time for campaign television or radio spots. [See George Dale is a Coward.]

Why is George Dale essentially saying that the 55% of Americans who live, work, and worship within 50 miles of our nation's beautiful and spectacular coastline deserve all the Katrinas that Mother Nature can dish out?

Why is George Dale defending the insurance industry he is supposed to be regulating on behalf of the people of Mississippi?

Why did George Dale fail to vociferously, aggressively, and faithfully advocate in a successful manner on behalf of the families and business owners who had religiously paid their insurance premiums only to be screwed over by various companies that refused to honor their wind policy contracts?

All of George’s hatred spewing with him telling the Gulf Coast residents to move if they don’t like the way he permits insurance companies to run all over them? Bizarre campaign strategy, really. What could be the point other than sour grapes because the folks on the Gulf Coast aren’t thanking him for enabling the insurance industry to harm families and businesses by the thousands?

Then, a celestial spirit again visited me in the night sharing these ever-important poignant insights.

George is still trying to divide Mississippians one against the other. His standard line to audiences in North Mississippi:

“Should we be allowed to live wherever we choose even if it's in harm's way? Should we make taxpayers pick up the tab of those who choose to live in harm's way?”

He plays to the worst instincts of his audience by making them think they will have to pay higher premiums just because other people live near the Coast.
Wow! Now that makes it fall into place. While it explains his behavior, it does not excuse it. The commissioner of insurance is supposed to be a trusted public servant. Down here on the coast, his actions have instilled betrayal rather than trust. Personally, I don’t cotton to that.

Insurance commissioners don’t have to be that way
Let’s contrast Mississippi’s insurance commissioner with California’s former insurance commissioner John Garamendi, who won his race for Lt. Governor in last November’s election. Garamendi has a fierce reputation for defending California’s policyholders and going up against insurance companies like State Farm. About a year ago, Garamendi went public “accusing California's largest auto insurers of using political extortion to get him to delay implementing laws that would save California motorists money,” See video here.

San Francisco’s CBS television station reported that Garamendi received a phone call in which
he was offered a take it or leave it deal. [Garamendi] says a lobbying group that represents the state's top auto insurers threatened to spend over $2 million in a negative ad campaign unless he delayed new insurance regulations - regulations that require auto insurance companies to give more weight to how people drive rather than where they live, a practice known as red lining.”
Garamendi said the lobbying group behind the threats “is funded by State Farm, Farmers, Safeco, Allstate and other top insurers.” The San Francisco television station reported that “State Farm confirmed to CBS 5 that the phone call to Garamendi did take place, but they denied blackmail or coercion.” State Farm sure is busy these days, and apparently not with taking great care of its policyholders.

Rather than buckling under the weight of the alleged blackmail and extortion, Garamendi went public. View news clip. He also turned the matter over to the FBI and state officials. Read Garamendi’s letter to the FBI and state officials.

Garamendi is proof positive that standing up to corporate bullies can be successfully accomplished. All it takes is courage, character, and commitment to the public good.

Clearly the sun needs to set on George Dale’s tenure as insurance commissioner. So here are a few political hell raising activities that will help push over the finish line a candidate who has signed a pledge not to take money from the insurance industry AND with our help has a chance to win.

Contribute a few dollars into Gary Anderson's campaign, volunteer with the campaign--maybe phone banking long distance if the campaign is dong that, and vote for him are all steps that can be taken to be part of a solution to the problem with George Dale's cozy relationship with the insurance industry that has ravaged the coast in ways beyond what Katrina did. This is how we help George Dale understand that by deliberately placing others on a path of financial and emotional distress has consequences, he placed himself in harm’s way.


If you enjoyed this piece, you may also enjoy reading the following.

George Dale is a Coward

Mr. “I can do my job” isn’t doing his job

Return to A.M. in the Morning! Home


Grandmère Mimi said...

Ana Maria, why am I experiencing déjà vu? I'll tell you why. I live within 50 miles of the coast of Louisiana. We were spared the worst of Katrina where I live, most folks experiencing only fallen trees and limbs - although, sometimes on their houses - and missing roof tiles.

But we could get the worst of the next big one. Folks are getting the same run-around and lack of help in Louisiana that you're getting in Mississippi.

As I said at Klady's site, "Klady, thanks for alerting me to this post [yours]. Why is it that none of the "solutions" provided by the functionaries in government and business seem to work out to the benefit of ordinary people?"

Excellent post.

Anonymous said...

And here's another side to the story that never gets told because AM in the morning is a mouthpiece for the Scruggs group....

Ana Maria said...

I am proud to speak truth to power as I have always done throughout my life. I am blessed with God-given courage and a backbone of steal infused with the tremendous wisdom, expertise, and experience that inform the knowledge that I've acquired in my life. Heaven sent, indeed.

How incredibly sad that you have such little faith in your own comment that you hide like a coward in anonymity. Shall we pray that you grow a backbone and self-confidence so that you can come out of your dark shadow to join us in the sunshine of truth and light on the side of those who need real champions, champions like the Scruggs Katrina Group, the Merlin Group, the Mississippi Center for Justice, the tens of thousands of volunteers who have come here with their helping hands and hearts of gold.

Open your mind and your heart . . . and you'll find more courage and love through which to see the world rather than being a secretive schill for the George Dales of the world who are mouthpieces for the worst of our human traits.

May you be blessed soon with the backbone and heart you've apparently lost along your way.

See ya laytah!


A.G. Trimble said...

Here's a story about coming out of the darkness....well, more like having an unwanted spotlight shone on you. In re: your comment to anonymous. Nice effort at redirection. Don't address the issue - the fact that you don't paint a complete picture - but instead diminish the comment because it was anonymously posted. As if that makes it false. Your experience in spin is quite impressive. But very transparent.

Mystery PAC for Anderson, Chapter 3

Mississippians for Fair Elections, the inaptly christened PAC that is supporting Gary Anderson in his Democratic campaign challenge to Insurance Commissioner George Dale, missed Tuesday's filing deadline for its campaign finance disclosure. When the Mystery PAC finally did file, late, its disclosure showed only two transactions: the $250,000 contribution bragged about by Dickie Scruggs, and a $250,000 disbursement to Murphy Putnam Media, LLC. Neither the contribution nor the disbursement is dated as required by law. And no one other than Scruggs has given a dime to the PAC.

Murphy Putnam, the ad firm that produced and aired the anti-Dale television ads for Scruggs, is populated by veterans of John Kerry's failed presidential bid in 2004. The firm itself produced independent spots for Kerry during the campaign. See more at . This disclosure clears up one remaining piece of the mystery here. George Dale was decertified by the Mississippi Democratic Executive Committee for the high crime of saying publicly before the 2004 election that he supported President Bush. Now, one of John Kerry's ad firms is hammering Dale courtesy of an eye-popping political contribution.

We'll see on Tuesday night what Mississippi's Democratic voters think about all this.

Andy Taggart
Red Blue Blog
Clarion Ledger

Frank Edders said...

I've been reading A.M.'s blog for months now, and I think she's right to call out an anonymous poster for a silly accusation. Read any one of her posts and you can see the honesty and experience coming through. A.M. isn't a mouthpiece for anybody except hardworking folks trying to live decent lives. I'm proud to attach my name to this post.