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

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hypocrisy and Independence in Mississippi’s Insurance Commissioner Race

by Ana Maria

Hypocrisy. What a terrible characteristic in a human being, particularly an elected official with regard to their public statements on their responsibilities and duties for which they are responsible. The current revelation that Republican State Senator Mike Chaney took over $44,000 from the very people in the insurance industry that he says he wants to regulate makes him a big laughing stock here in Mississippi. Wasn’t this the guy who stated, “I don’t know how you can take money from a company and regulate ‘em?”

Yeah, that’s the guy. The Gary Anderson campaign reported that Chaney took in $44,000 in campaign contributions since July 29th of this year. In other words, Chaney has raked in plenty of money into his own campaign treasury from the very industry interests that he proclaimed in public at the Mississippi Municipal League (MML) this past summer. . . now what was it? Oh yeah, “I don’t know how you can take money from a company and regulate ‘em?”

Well, I guess he figures that he would do what his buddy George Dale had done—you DON’T regulate ‘em. See, Chaney likes Dale.
Said so himself in that very same speech where he pronounced the question perplexing him at the time.

Yep, Chaney said,
I like George. I’m just worried that he might not get the nomination.
Republican Nominee Mike Chaney
Miss. Insurance Commissioner
And by George! Gary Anderson won the Democratic nomination beating out the 32-year, in-the-back-pocket-of-Big-Insurance George Dale! Now it is time to beat the George Dale stand in.

Chaney’s political game plan has been pretty typical of the Trojan Horse political strategy--pretend there is no real difference between the candidates when there is a world of difference. Chaney has come out in favor of the multiple peril insurance legislation that won overwhelming and bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives. This legislation is very popular with South Mississippi voters because of our big wave of discontent over how Big Insurance has wronged the families and business after Hurricane Katrina. Gary Anderson has long supported this groundbreaking legislative initiative that South Mississippi's Congressman Gene Taylor sponsored.

However, as we connect the dots, Chaney’s character looks differently.

In front of the MML , Chaney had declared his fondness for George Dale
, the darling of the insurance industry. In front of the political insiders who attend the Neshoba County Fair, Mississippi's annual political, Chaney declared that he intended to win the election in November--weeks before the upset defeat of the then-ever so popular 32-year incumbent in the Democratic primary.
Collectively, his statements comprise a wink, wink, nod, nod in politics. Translation:
"If things don’t work out so well for George Dale in the primary, don’t worry, I have Big Insurance’s back. I’m your guy."
How does a candidate take money from the corporate interests he is to regulate—particularly an industry that is in such disfavor as the insurance industry is with the residential and commercial insurance policyholders in this state—then turn around and regulate them? They do not. The only way to be sure that the insurance industry is regulated as stringently as our laws currently permit them is to elect a candidate who takes positions that protect Mississippi’s residential and commercial policyholders AND remains financially independent of the insurance industry.

There is only one candidate in Mississippi’s election campaign for insurance commissioner that fits that perfectly. That candidate is Democratic nominee Gary Anderson.

In the August primary, Anderson was elected over George Dale because Anderson had shown his independence from the insurance industry, an industry that has shown how ruthless and cruel it can be to its customers. Plenty enough voters supported Anderson’s campaign to elect him as the Democratic nominee.

Yes, this included support that came from a man who has fought successfully in court against the insurance companies that have wrongfully failed to live up to their financial responsibilities to the people of Mississippi. Yes, this included support from a man who had dedicated his life to fighting the giant corporations that sometimes fail to be good neighbors, corporations in whose hands we found ourselves financially strangled. Thank GAWD for trial lawyers who will take up the cause of the little people like you and me so that we can be the David successfully going up against the Goliaths such as Big Insurance.

I find it truly amusing that trial lawyers, rather than corporate lawyer shills, have become the butt of many jokes in our society, in our culture. But as Senator Trent Lott demonstrated, when someone is taking away our home, we will look around and find the best of the best trial attorney to fight our legal battles. For Senator Lott, he needed go no further than his own brother-in-law Dickie Scruggs.

Scruggs is an ardent supporter of those getting the short end of the stick that corporate shill attorneys get paid to poke into the eyes of the little people. I want the Dickie Scruggs of the world out there fighting the good fights to protect American families and businesses. That’s the American way. Our history is filled with countless stories of an injustice being righted solely because someone finally hauled—or threatened to haul—someone’s you-know-what to court. Skilled attorneys on our side is what has given plenty of South Mississippi families money to rebuild their homes, their lives, their businesses.

Dickie Scruggs and other attorneys supporting a solid candidate for Mississippi’s insurance commissioner, a candidate dedicated to protecting our state’s policyholders from unscrupulous behavior from Big Insurance, this is simply a natural alliance. Of course, they would support Gary Anderson. If what trial attorneys wanted was more business, they would simply conduct independent expenditure campaigns—create a political action committee, fund it, develop a television ad, etc.—supporting Republican Mike Chaney. After all, with Chaney as the George Dale stand in candidate, we can expect the same kind of pro-industry policies that have given rise to the need to employ engineers and high powered attorneys like the Scruggs Katrina Group, the Merlin Group, and others.

But, the trial lawyers want good things for Mississippi’s mom-and-pop policyholders. So, they are supporting the candidate who they believe, like I believe, will best protect the interests of the little people.

We have a clear choice for Insurance Commissioner this year.

Republican candidate Mike Chaney is obviously taking substantial sums of campaign contributions from Big Insurance while pretending he can be independent in spite of his campaign coffers filled with insurance dollars. Well, we’ve already seen the results of an insurance commissioner whose campaign hand eagerly took the cash from Big Insurance. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. At the end of the day, South Mississippian families and businessowners often found themselves with only the shirts on their backs.

That is why I’m supporting and voting for Gary Anderson for Mississippi’s next Insurance Commissioner. I want a candidate who is independent from, who will protect policyholders from, who will stand up to Big Insurance. I hope you do, too. As each of us invests time to assist with the myriad of activities or money to fund those activities, Mississippi can make history through putting into office an Insurance Commissioner who will protect the interest of the state’s families and businesses. The choice is clear.

© 2007 Ana Maria Rosato. All rights reserved.
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