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South Mississippi Living 4/07

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Former Miss. insurance commissioner joins Adams & Reese




January 22, 2008
By Rebecca Mowbray


Former Mississippi Insurance Commissioner George Dale has joined former Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Robert Wooley on the lobbying staff of the law firm of Adams & Reese LLP, further developing the firm's insurance regulation specialty.

Dale, the nation's longest serving insurance commissioner, was ousted in the Mississippi Democratic primary in August after eight terms and 32 years on the job amid public frustration over Hurricane Katrina. He is working in the firm's Jackson office as a non-lawyer senior governmental affairs adviser and a member of the governmental relations team.

In February 2006, Wooley, an attorney, joined Adams & Reese in Baton Rouge after he left his post as insurance commissioner six months after Hurricane Katrina and mid-way through his term. He works of counsel on the governmental relations team of the special business services group.

The New Orleans-based Adams & Reese is one of the largest law firms in the South with offices in Baton Rouge; Birmingham and Mobile, Ala.; Jackson, Miss.; Houston; Memphis and Nashville, Tenn.; as well as Washington, D.C.

In Louisiana, it has an impressive roster of insurance clients, including State Farm, Allstate, USAA, Audubon Insurance Co., Balboa Insurance Group, Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the Property Insurance Association of Louisiana, Progressive Insurance Co., Louisiana Land Title Association, Humana Inc. and Oschner Health Plan.

In press release on his hire, Adams & Reese touted Dale's knowledge of the insurance industry and the governmental process. "George adds strength to our capabilities as specialists in insurance regulatory matters, in Mississippi and beyond .Â¥.Â¥. His presence will further develop and compliment our regional and national specialized governmental relations practice."

Dale said that he has always tried to work in the best interests of the people of Mississippi, and joining Adams & Reese gives him the opportunity to serve in a different capacity. "I will continue to look after the best interests of clients from Mississippi to Louisiana and Washington, D.C. due to the firm's regional footprint and strength of their governmental relations practice," he said in the release.

Bob Hunter, a former Texas insurance commissioner who is director of insurance at the Consumer Federation of America, said that Dale's new job at a law firm that represents so many insurance interests is another unfortunate tale of regulators caring more about the industry than the people who elected them.

"Nothing surprises me any more. The insurance industry and the regulators are so intertwined. We've had now two presidents of the NAIC (National Association of Insurance Commissioners) go directly to lobbying jobs with the insurance industry, and we've had so many former insurance commissioners head off in that direction, it's disgusting. How can the public trust state regulation with all this going on?" Hunter asked.

In its release, Adams & Reese boasts about its tradition of hiring former elected officials and cites examples of former Congressmen, state representatives, judges and even a parish leader in its ranks. It does not mention Wooley.

Last year, audit problems at Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp., which was created under Wooley's tenure as insurance commissioner, sparked probes by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor and then a federal grand jury.

In a legislative audit advisory council hearing this fall on Citizens, Wooley testified that his "No. 1 priority was not to go to jail" as his three predecessors had. In December, when Wooley was again asked to appear before the committee, criminal defense attorney Edward Castaing Jr. appeared in his place and said that he had instructed Wooley not to testify until the state provided the documents on which questions would be based.

Hunter found the omission of Wooley's name from the release puzzling, given that Adams & Reese says it is trying to build its insurance practice.


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2 comments:

Coastal Cowboy said...

I see ole Sop done went and copied your post. He claims to have got the link off the ALL board. I'd keep an eye on him, he's gone squirrelly lately.

Ana Maria said...

You all are fabulous! Now, don't go getting on ol' SOP. What with the Mardi Gras season upon us, we're all going the happy route remembering life can be a party while we slay the dragons among us. :)

What is the ALL board?!?!?

Happy Mardi Gras!!! Woohooo!!!