Editor Vote for Lara for Insurance Commissioner

When we make a recommendation for an election, we hope that we will be able to say that the person we are recommending will work properly, ethically and responsibly. No person can be qualified to be a public insurance officer who has passed the test.

Good choice in Nov. 8 the rush is worth it Ricardo Lara. But that’s because another way, San Jose business owner Robert Howellhe doesn’t know about the job and it would be a permanent disaster if he gets elected.

This is advice to hold your nose because we feel we have a responsibility to provide guidance to voters when they are choosing between two bad candidates.

Californians deserve better choices to lead the 1,400-employee department responsible for managing health, auto and homeowner’s insurance — for regulating companies that collect more than $371 billion in annual payments in California. The insurance commissioner probably affects the lives of Californians more than any other government official except the governor.

As we said before the first election, Lara’s time has been embarrassing to remember the embarrassing time of Chuck Quackenbushan insurance executive who resigned in 2000 amid allegations that he tried to extort money from insurance companies in order to fund advertising campaigns that would benefit him politically.

Since the scandal began, for nearly two decades California insurance executives have refused campaign contributions tied to the one business they control — recognizing the importance of independent oversight untainted by political money.

Until Lara came. After vowing not to take corporate money, he broke that promise in 2018 and after being elected quickly began raising more from his administration during this year’s campaign.

San Diego Union Tribune calculated that Lara collected at least $270,000 from 56 individuals and companies that are affiliated with insurance companies. This time, the big one Department of Insurance Officials have overturned legal judges at least five times, each time in favor of a company linked to some of the donors, Union Tribune report.

When a consumer watchdog group sued Lara for access to communications in her office and with lobbyists representing campaign donors, her agency last year suddenly adopted a policy to delete emails after six months. But after media scrutiny, the agency dropped the plan in January.

It’s hard to imagine someone who could be worse. Then Mr. Howell enters, who does not reveal why he is running or what the insurance policy entails. He was the most ill-prepared person for public office that we have ever met.

“What can I do as a commissioner?” He repeated our first question. He sat for a while and then said “Okay, that’s fair” as if he was looking for an answer.

At one point, he finally said he would stop home insurance companies from paying more for coverage in fire-prone areas. And how could he do that? “Good question,” he replied. “The 1,400 people who work in the office should know how to organize things. That’s what people in the sewers do. They have to do their job. “

Howell is president and chief engineer of Exatron, a San Jose– an equipment manufacturing company with approximately 45 full-time employees. He managed to slowly slide into the race and finish in second place thanks to fourth place Democrats they were on the ballot dividing their party’s votes with Howell being one of only two Republicans. He received 18.1% of the vote, leaving the Assemblyman Marc LevineD-San Rafaelwho scored 18.0%.

If Levine had run, this would have been a different race – with a credible and ethical candidate on the ballot. Instead, Californians are faced with a terrible choice between Lara and Howell. Try not to shake while casting your vote.

Bay Area News Group