Insurer Contributions to Congress Pegged at $35.7 Million Since '05 - BodyShop Business

Insurer Contributions to Congress Pegged at $35.7 Million Since ’05

Auto, home, business and life insurance companies contributed $35,743,017 to members of Congress during the last two election cycles, according to an analysis released by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Consumer Watchdog. About $5 million went to members of the House subcommittee that recently held a hearing entitled “How Should the Federal Government Oversee Insurance?” (click HERE to read about the hearing).

The top recipients of insurer contributions in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives were Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., $2,287,345; Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., $1,102,056; and Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., $491,545.

Dodd heads the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over insurance matters, and Kanjorski chairs the House Financial Services Subcommittee, which held the insurance regulation hearing last week.

“The insurance industry is using the chaos created by failed federal oversight of other financial players to ask for the same weak treatment and regulatory options given to the banking industry. And insurers have invested tens of millions of dollars in politicians to help their cause,” said Doug Heller, executive director of Consumer Watchdog.

Other top recipients include Rep. Melissa Bean, D-Ill., $358,603, and Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., $297,574. Royce and Bean are co-sponsoring legislation that would allow large insurers to opt out of state regulation in favor of a federal regulator.

House Financial Services Committee Chair Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Vice Chair Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., have received $342,796 and $312,550, respectively from insurance industry sources.

Consumer Watchdog says that large insurance companies like Allstate, State Farm and Zurich favor the legislation authored by Bean and Royce (H.R. 1880), known as the “Optional Federal Charter.” The bill would offer large insurance companies the ability to opt out of state regulation and select a federal overseer instead. Also, it would prohibit the regulation of rates by the new federal agency and would preempt state rules governing rates and unfair rating practices.

The groups says Kanjorski, the House’s top recipient of insurance donations, is among the key supporters of this optional regulation plan. Consumer Watchdog claims that donations from insurers have played an important role in the push for federal insurance regulation.

“Giving insurers the ability to opt out of state regulation in favor of a legislatively neutered federal agency is nothing other than deregulation by another name,” said Heller. “It would be disastrous to support federal insurance deregulation as a response to the banking deregulation debacle that has left the American economy in shambles.”
Click HERE to download a document from Consumer Watchdog displaying total contributions to each member of Congress and identifying members of the House committee responsible for insurance matters.

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