Consumer Federation of California Releases 2010 Scorecard for State Legislators

The Consumer Federation of California (CFC) released its 2010 Scorecard for State lawmakers today. The scorecard rates legislators on their votes cast on key consumer rights bills. State Assembly members and Senators were evaluated on a number of issues, including prohibiting private for-profit post-secondary schools from making false job placement claims to prospective students, requiring lenders to provide mortgage modification information before initiating foreclosure proceedings, establishing a universal, government run health insurance program, requiring large manufacturers and retailers to disclose their efforts to eliminate human trafficking, and prohibiting a retailer from charging a fee for debit card purchases, among others.

Click here to view the scorecard and the description of the legislation used to grade lawmakers.

Average scores were 59 percent in the Senate and 58 percent in the Assembly. The scorecard highlighted a deep ideological split between the two parties when it comes to consumer rights protections. Assembly Democrats had an average score of 87 percent, with Senate Democrats averaging 86 percent.

Assembly Republicans, highlighting the party’s corporate domination, took the side of consumers a record low of just 5 percent of the time. Senate Republicans scored slightly better, garnering an anemic score of just 11 percent.

In all, 11 out of the 25 Senate Democrats scored 100 percent and another 19 of the 50 Democrats in the Assembly earned a perfect score. In contrast, 23 of the 29 Republicans in the Assembly scored 11 percent or less, with a record 16 receiving a score of ‘0’. In the Senate, 9 of the 15 Republicans scored 15 percent or below, with four receiving scores of ‘0’.

The single Independent in the Legislature ‘ Assemblyman Juan Arambula ‘ scored an 89 percent.

Not all Democratic lawmakers received high marks. An informal caucus of corporate-friendly Democrats often joined their Republican colleagues to kill consumer protection bills. Thirteen Assembly Democrats received grades of 73 percent or below, with eight receiving poor or failing grades of 67 percent or less. In the Senate, seven Democratic Senators scored 77 percent or below, with five receiving poor or failing scores (69 percent or less).

‘The scorecard should help Californians evaluate how their lawmakers voted on consumer protection bills that affect our pocketbooks, our privacy, and our health and safety, but often get little news coverage,’ said Richard Holober, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of California.

Also included are 2005 ‘ 2010 cumulative legislator scores. These scores are based on the annual CFC scorecards issued each year. Percentages represent the total number of right and wrong votes cast by the lawmaker during his or her tenure in the legislature from 2005 through 2010.

Lawmakers are graded on legislative proposals that the CFC sponsored, supported or opposed. CFC assessed final substantive floor votes. Committee votes were included in cases where important consumer bills died in committee before reaching a floor vote. Scores reflect the percentage of votes cast in favor of consumers.

These scores include votes cast as well as non-votes by lawmakers present at the time the vote was cast. Some lawmakers intentionally do not vote on certain proposed bills to avoid recording controversial votes. Since non-votes have the same effect as voting ‘No’, they are scored based on the non-vote’s effect on the forward movement of the bill.

The scorecard does not evaluate the Governor’s record on consumer protection legislation. Many pro-consumer bills are killed in the legislature. Grading the Governor on the bills that reach his desk would not provide a valid comparison to the scores assigned to legislators.