Secret recording of insurance lobbyist reveals plan to 'jam' bill through before end of session

Friday, September 1, 2023
Recording of insurance lobbyist reveals plan to 'jam' bill through
A consumer advocate overheard an insurance industry lobbyist discussing strategy on a flight from Los Angeles to Sacramento and secretly recorded it.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGO) -- Consumer activist Jamie Court was on a Southwest flight from Los Angeles to Sacramento. The passenger across the aisle was insurance industry lobbyist Michael Gunning. Court says Gunning was talking loudly with two others about the effort to change California insurance law.

"I overheard him say some really remarkable things," Court says, "So I took my tape recorder on my phone out and I started recording."

A portion of the recording Consumer Watchdog released go as follows:

Michael Gunning: "So we are trying to jam a bill..."

Other person: "Yeah."

Gunning: ".. in the last three weeks of the year... It might be the only thing."

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Later in the recording, Gunning says, "That is going to be the big thing. Of course, the surprise you don't know about."

Other person: "I know, right?"

Gunning: "That's always the fun thing that comes up. Where did that come from?"

Michael Finney of 7 On Your Side asked Court, what does that mean in layman's terms?

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Court said, "They were saying that (they are) going to bring this up at the very last minute so that the public doesn't have a chance to see it. The advocates don't have a chance to examine it and oppose it. And we're just going to ram it through without public debate, without the benefits of democracy."

7 On Your Side reached out to Gunning and his employer, Lighthouse Public Affairs, Thursday morning via email and voicemail. We never heard back.

However, Politico reports Gunning saying the discussion was taken out of context. Politico wrote: "... his mention of 'surprise' wasn't about an unsuspecting public - as Court alleged - but about the legislative deadline and how it spurs a flurry of late action."

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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