Billionaire Insurance Baron Tries to Buy Off California Republican Party



Good Drivers Penalized $1,000/Year By Mercury Executive’s Auto Insurance Surcharge Initiative

A woman who relies on mass transit and currently has no car will be joined by the Consumer Federation, Consumer Watchdog Campaign and a million dollars in ‘George Joseph bucks’ to call on the California Republican Party to oppose the billionaire’s ballot initiative.  The measure aims to undo auto insurance reforms and would allow insurers to surcharge good drivers by as much as $1,000/year.   

Mercury Insurance Chairman George Joseph is far and away the Republican Party’s largest donor, having given the California GOP $2 million since 2010.

WHO:        Sharada Polavarapu ‘ San Francisco resident who relies on mass transit and would be surcharged if she moved or changed jobs requiring a car.  She would be penalized by as much as $1,000/year.
                  Richard Holober – Consumer Federation of California
                  Brian Stedge – Consumer Watchdog Campaign
                  A Million ‘George Joseph Bucks’

WHEN:       TOMORROW Friday February 24, 2012 @ 11:00 am Pacific Time

WHERE:     Entrance to the Hyatt San Francisco Airport.
Sidewalk in front of 1333 Bayshore Highway, Burlingame, California, USA 94010


Mercury Insurance Chairman George Joseph has given more than $8 million to fund his 2012 ballot initiative attack on long-standing consumer protections. The insurance executive and ‘Forbes 400’ billionaire also made the largest single contribution to the California Republican Party in 2011 – one million dollars, over ten times more than the next largest contributor.  In 2010, when the Republican Party endorsed Joseph’s prior attempt to pass the same auto insurance surcharge initiative, Joseph donated $1,000,000 to the Republican Party.  His two million dollars makes him easily the party’s biggest donor over the last two years.

Joseph’s second attempt at the surcharge initiative is part of a decade-long campaign to remove a key consumer protection from the 1988 insurance reform initiative Proposition 103.  That provision makes it illegal for auto insurers to surcharge drivers based on their history of buying auto insurance.  The billionaire-backed initiative, which is on the November 2012 ballot, would increase auto insurance premiums by 40% for the long-term unemployed, drivers who previously relied on mass transit and students who gave up driving and insurance while in college.       

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