Posted on 15 May 2009
According to an analysis released on Thursday by the non-profit, nonpartisan Consumer Watchdog, Auto, home, business and life insurance companies contributed $35,743,017 million to members of Congress during the last two election cycles. About $5 million went to members of the House subcommittee holding a hearing Thursday entitled "How Should the Federal Government Oversee Insurance?"
The top recipients of insurer contributions in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives were Sen. McCain (R-AZ) $2,287,345, Sen. Dodd (D-CT) $1,102,056 and Rep. Kanjorski (D-PA) $491,545. Senator Chris Dodd heads the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over insurance matters, and Representative Paul Kanjorski chairs the House Financial Services Subcommittee holding Thursday's hearing.
Other top recipients include Rep. Bean (D-IL) $358,603 and Rep. Royce (R-CA) $297,574 who are co-sponsoring industry legislation to allow large insurers to opt out of state regulation in favor of a federal regulator. House Financial Services Committee Chair Rep. Frank (D-MA) and Vice Chair Rep. Bachus (R-AL) have received $342,796 and $312,550, respectively from insurance industry sources.
The campaign contribution data used in Consumer Watchdog’s analysis was compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
“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.
Insurance giants like Allstate, State Farm and Zurich favor the legislation authored by Reps. Bean and Royce (H.R. 1880), known as the “Optional Federal Charter.” The bill would offer big 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.
Among the key supporters of this optional regulation plan is Subcommittee Chair Kanjorski, the House’s top recipient of insurance donations. Rep. Kanjorski’s Congressional website explains: “Keeping our financial markets globally competitive, improving the housing market, increasing borrower safety, enhancing investor protection, and creating an optional federal charter for insurance are some of his top priorities for the Subcommittee.”
To see the top ten Senate and Congressional recipients of insurer contributions, please visit: