Final Comments Filed in Lawsuit Against Insurance Commissioner Lara & Department of Insurance Over Billing, Consumer Watchdog reports.

Test Set September 2

ANGEL, Oga. 24, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Consumer Watchdog filed its closing brief in a California Public Records Act (“CPRA”) lawsuit against the Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and the Department of Insurance. The CPRA court says that Lara and the department failed to investigate and produce documents related to a pay-to-play scandal including insurance companies that have business pending with the agency.

The trial will take place September 2, 2022. Download the Consumer Watchdog Response Summary it was booked last weekend.

Consumer Watchdog’s CPRA requests sought records of communications and meetings with “any registered persons or representatives” of the companies involved in the scandal. However, the Department failed to examine the documents.

According to Consumer Watchdog’s Reply Brief,

“[Department Special Counsel] Bryant Henley met Respondent Lara to search for Lara’s computer and equipment. . ., however at the meeting Mr Henley did not ask Respondent Lara about the records showing ‘any other persons employed or representing’ the companies. . . . For example, did Respondent Lara communicate with her friend and mentor [former Assembly Speaker] Fabian Nunezwhich Henley and Lara knew ‘could be or [was] is about to represent Applied Underwriters and can be reached [Lara] in the future in this regard’? That silence is deafening and ignores a ‘red flag.’

As reported in Consumer Watchdog’s Opening Briefly is stored on July 5, 2022, Commissioner Lara initially promised not to accept donations from insurance companies. However, in early 2019, people connected to the workers’ compensation insurance company Applied Underwriters and another company, IHC, contributed. $53,400 to Lara’s 2022 re-election campaign fund. Some of the donations were made in the name of relatives of insurance company executives, apparently to hide their true source in violation of campaign finance and embezzlement laws. Soon after, the President of Applied, Steven Menzies, asked Commissioner Lara to intervene in what is happening at the Department related to Applied. Lara did so, ignoring the Administrative Law Judge’s order on four charges. Menzies also made a profit when Commissioner Lara approved his purchase of Applied, California Insurance Company (“CIC”).

After international news, Commissioner Lara apologized and promised to “look into it.”

Consumer Watchdog then filed two CPRA requests with the department, seeking communications and records of encounters related to people “employed by or representing” insurance companies that participated in the scandal.

A series of documents produced by the department show that Menzies and others improperly discussed the sale of CIC with Commissioner Lara and other department staff and obtained campaign funds. The department refused to release some of the documents and failed to provide an adequate explanation for the withholding.

With no other options, Consumer Watchdog filed a public records lawsuit, asking the court to require the Department to search and release all audio records.

Consumer Watchdog contends that the department failed to search for records that occurred when notifying the agents acting on behalf of Applied, CIC, and IHC. These people include the former New Mexico insurance agent, Eric Sernawho resigned after another pay-to-play scandal, Fabian Núñez, a former member of the Assembly turned activist. Rusty Sandsand another person selling CIC, Jamie Sahara.

case, Consumer Watchdog v. Ricardo Lara and al. Case 20STCP00664, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. Consumer Watchdog is represented by group lawyers and Kelly Avilesesq.

Consumer Watchdog is a non-profit organization. Find us online at www.ConsumerWatchdog.org

SOURCE Consumer Watchdog