STATE FARM'S HEAD ON A PLATTER
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South Mississippi Living 4/07

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Insurance post's campaign support at issue

By ANITA LEE
calee@sunherald.com

-- State insurance commissioner candidates Gary Anderson, a Democrat, and Sen. Mike Chaney, a Republican, both pledged to eschew insurance-industry contributions for their campaigns, but Chaney's position has shifted since pre-primary days.


"I will not take money from big insurance companies," Chaney said in a recent telephone interview. "I have not taken money from big insurance companies. I have taken money from insurance agents and from smaller insurance companies that are domiciled in the state.

"The agents are not the problem. The problem in the industry are the big insurance companies. I'm not in their pocket and I'm not in the pocket of personal-injury lawyers."

Anderson's primary defeat of outgoing Commissioner George Dale, the nation's longest-serving commissioner with 32 years in office, underscored the public's dissatisfaction with a public official who accepts contributions from the industry he is charged with regulating. But Dale has said insurance companies and agents are the constituency most active and interested in the outcome of the commissioner's race.

Anderson told the Sun Herald he's beholden to no one and raised his money "the old-fashioned way," $100 here, $20 there. What he did not mention was the boost his campaign received before the primary when Oxford attorney Richard "Dickie" Scruggs contributed $250,000 to Mississippians for Fair Elections. The group gave the money to Murphy Putnam Media in Alexandria, Va., for Dale attack ads.

The contribution is not listed on Anderson's campaign reports because it is considered an "independent expenditure," according to the Secretary of State's Office, and did not go through his campaign.

"I had nothing to do with it," Anderson said. "He (Scruggs) coordinated nothing with me. I didn't even know what was happening until it happened and I saw it running on TV." In fact, Anderson was surprised at the end of the ad to see an outdated photo of himself from his race four years earlier for state treasurer.

Anderson far outpaced Chaney as a fundraiser through the primary period, but Chaney has almost caught up. On reports filed late Wednesday, Anderson listed a total of $394,930 in contributions, compared with $367,467 for Chaney. Anderson's contributions include a $100,000 loan to himself and numerous donations from attorneys who represent policyholders in insurance disputes. Anderson said attorneys who represent insurance companies also contributed.

Chaney received contributions from insurance agents, brokers and companies, plus insurance adjusting firms.

Anderson said he has focused on who funds the commissioner's race because it is the No. 1 issue for voters. Chaney said Anderson can't focus on the issues because he lacks experience, noting Anderson has skipped forums Chaney attended to talk insurance. Anderson said the two have appeared together at an event sponsored by the Stennis Institute of Government and that he missed at least one forum because of a scheduling conflict.


About the job
Only 11 states and the Virgin Islands elect insurance commissioners. They are appointed in other states. Florida was the most recent state to begin appointing commissioners; California went from an appointed to an elected commissioner 20 years ago. The states with elected commissioners: California, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Washington.

- NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF INSURANCE COMMISSIONERS


© 2007 Sun Herald. All Rights Reserved.
http://www.sunherald.com


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1 comment:

Ana Maria said...

Yo, to the coward who posted a press release direct from the campaign hq fo Mike "Mini Me" Cheney, I mean Chaney Republican candidate for Mississippi Insurance Commissioner . . .

Your cowardice is laughable. You want to be invisible? Fine. So, too, is your posting.

Next, if you want to post press releases against the candidate I'm supporting, go elsewhere or start your own blog.

Laughter before bedtime makes for a peaceful, restful night. You frightened little nothing provided me with a great laugh.