September 23, 2019

Consumer Watchdog has written California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the District Attorneys of Sacramento, San Francisco, and Los Angeles counties, calling for an investigation of money laundering and bribery relating to the fundraising scandal engulfing California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara.

This follows reports that emerged last week that calendar entries and documents show that Lara, and not his fundraiser, made first contact with an agent of a workers’ compensation insurance company offering political support in conjunction with seeking approval for a change of control in the company.

“The evidence suggests that not only did Commissioner Lara know about the campaign contributions, but that the contributors sought preferential treatment on the pending merger and four proceedings before the Department,” wrote Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court and litigation director Jerry Flanagan. “Only an investigation by the office of a public prosecutor can compel answers about whether the insurance commissioner engaged in criminal activity. No public official should be above the law. All state workers should know that every state employee, including elected officials, are held accountable to the law.”

The Santa Monica, Calif., based group requested Lara’s calendar and other documents after it was discovered he took campaign contributions from the insurance industry despite his pledge not to do so.

Lara has since apologized for accepting those contributions. He said he terminated his contractual relationship with the fundraising personnel involved, and that even though no laws or rules were broken, “I must hold myself to a higher standard.”