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Newly elected Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner has announced the appointment of William Gausewitz as counsel. Poizner, the only Republican elected to statewide office in 2006 other than Gov. Schwarzenegger, had campaigned on a platform of being an independent voice.

Observers have been watching closely to see who Poizner (himself a Silicon Valley entrepreneur) would tap as his “brain trust” on insurance issues. The preliminary answer seems to be in: he tapped an insider who lobbied for almost a decade on behalf of big insurance companies. Gausewitz has recently been with the Schwarzenegger administration in its Office of Administrative Law (where he approved many of the regulations adopted after the passage of the 2004 workers’ comp reforms). Prior to that, he had been a lobbyist for Farmers Insurance and the American Insurance Association, a large trade group that is very active in California politics.

The office of the California Insurance Commissioner does not have authority over most workers’ comp issues. However, the Insurance Commissioner does make recommendations about workers’ comp insurance rates, a very important function. When now-Lt. Governor John Garamendi was Insurance Commissioner, he took an active “bully pulpit” role in advocating changes in the California workers’ comp system. It remains to be seen how active Poizner will try to be in the workers’ comp arena.

What is clear is that the Gausewitz appointment signals that Poizner as regulator is looking toward industry veterans for advice on how to run the department. Today’s Los Angeles Times has a good piece on this aspect of the story:
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-p … s-business

Is Poizner simply developing a coterie of advisers with insight into how the insurance industry works? Or are the foxes gathering around the henhouse?

Julius Young
www.boxerlaw.com

Category: Political developments

Julius Young

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