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a project of CAMPAIGN FOR CONSUMER RIGHTS
1750 Ocean Park Boulevard | #200 | Santa Monica, CA | 90405-4938 Tel: 310-392-0522 www.StopProp17.org
March 19, 2010 Mr. George Joseph Chairman of the Board Mercury General Corporation 4484 Wilshire Boulevard Los Angeles, California 90010 Dear Mr. Joseph: Next Wednesday, the California Legislature will hold a public information hearing about your June ballot measure, Proposition 17. Will I see you there? You sure have been talking about it a lot lately. It seems that everyone who has spoken out against Proposition 17 has received a private phone call from you. You even personally called our actuarial witness after he filed an affidavit rebutting every falsehood in your unsuccessful litigation to block any mention of Prop 17's car insurance surcharges in the California Voter Guide. But despite all these private conversations, including the personal calls to lawmakers and letters to policyholders who are quitting your company because you are backing this initiative, you refuse to participate in the public debate over Proposition 17. Instead, you are spending millions of dollars on public relations flacks, imposters paid to masquerade as consumer advocates, and on radio advertisements, in another of your cynical attempts to mislead people and corrupt the initiative process just as you corrupted the legislative process when you gave lawmakers millions of dollars to violate the California Constitution and attempt to gut Proposition’s 103’s anti-surcharge clause. Come out from behind the gilded boardroom doors and let’s have an honest and thorough public discussion about Prop 17. I know it might seem daunting, because as the sponsor of a ballot initiative seeking the approval of California voters you may have to explain Mercury’s myriad transgressions over the years: – Internal reports of over a decade of investigations by the California Department of Insurance and statements from former agents allege that Mercury had an internal policy of surcharging or refusing to sell car insurance to military personnel, cardiac patients, diabetics, seniors over 70, the self-employed, the unemployed, people who work at home, people not previously insured, and other people you don’t want to do business with. – Regulators in California, Florida and Pennsylvania have brought legal proceedings against your company ordering your company to end discriminatory and other illegal practices as well as pay fines of more than a million of dollars.
– Court rulings and settlements that have required Mercury and its affiliates to repay customers millions of dollars for overcharging policyholders on their premiums and low-balling them on their claims. With each revelation about Mercury Insurance, your J.D. Power customer satisfaction ranking as the 6th worst of America's top 32 auto insurers makes more sense.* Are you hiding because you are concerned that your sorry record might actually affect the public's view of your initiative? Yes, these are serious issues that go to the core of your company’s integrity. But considering that you have already spent $3.5 million trying to convince Californians to vote for your measure, don’t you think they deserve to know from you, Mercury’s founder and chairman, whether your company can be trusted or not? It should be obvious to you by now that your strategy of trying to buy the vote without having to face public scrutiny of your actions is not going to work. The time has come for you to stop hiding behind your paid surrogates and defend your Captain Ahablike quest to surcharge and discriminate against motorists before the public. I will be at the California Senate and Assembly’s joint hearing to lay out the facts about your initiative – the facts you’ve denied in your private conversations, in your unsuccessful lawsuit against us, and in the bogus nonsense that your company is peddling to the voters over the airwaves right now. This is not like one of those legislative hearings where you can do your dirty work through lobbyists and donations to the politicians. Will you be there to defend publicly what you are saying privately, or will it be another one of your flunkies who does your bidding? I’ll be waiting to see if you have the courage to face me and our publicly elected officials. If you don’t, sir, you have no business sponsoring a ballot measure in this state. Sincerely,