In Letter To CA Att'y Gen'l + 3 County DA's (LA/SF/Sac'to), Advocacy Group ConsumerWatchdog Seeks Investigation Of Matters Related To State Insurance Comm'r (former LB state Senator) Ricardo Lara; Group Mentions LB-Area State Senator Lena Gonzalez In Two Places; She Provides This Statement In Response
|(Sept. 23, 2019, 6:50 p.m.) -- Following news stories in two of CA's largest newspapers (Sacramento Bee and San Diego Union Tribune) that produced a public apology from CA Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and his return of some insurance-industry related contributions while denying any wrongdoing, the non-profit advocacy group ConsumerWatchdog -- which led the 1980's petition-initiated drive that created the office of CA Insurance Commissioner -- has asked CA Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the District Attorneys of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento counties to investigate matters related to Commissioner Lara.
In its Sept. 20 letter, ConsumerWatchdog includes two references to LB-area state Senator Lena Gonzalez (D, LB-S.E. L.A. County) in citing various reasons why it believes the CA AG and DAs offices should investigate a number of matters related to Lara.
Consumer Watchdog writes in pertinent part: "The people of California require your intervention, as does Commissioner Lara. The people of California deserve transparency and certainty as to whether our elected leaders are living up to the trust the voting public has invested in them. Commissioner Lara deserves to have his name cleared if he is innocent of any wrongdoing."
Insurance Commissioner Lara is the LB area's immediate-past state Senator. Following his Nov. 2018 election to statewide office, Lara endorsed then-1st dist. Long Beach Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez to fill his vacated state Senate seat; she was elected and took office in June 2019.
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Among matters related to Commissioner Lara, ConsumerWatchdog's Sept. 20 letter mentions Senator Gonzalez in two places:
In a Sept. 22 email response to the ConsumerWatchdog letter provided to LBREPORT.com, Senator Gonzalez's office responded to the two issues in one sentence each and summarized its overall reaction in a third sentence.
"Senator Gonzalez was referenced in an email about a meeting she never attended & with people she has never met. There is nothing unusual about the political contributions which were legally received & disclosed during her special election. She is disappointed to be dragged into this situation."
A little over two weeks earlier on Sept. 5, Senator Gonzalez digitally "liked" a Tweet by state Senator Scott Wiener (D, SF) in which Senator Wiener wrote: "Ricardo Lara is a strong leader & the 1st #LGBT statewide elected official in California history. The politically motivated attacks on him - & resulting media feeding frenzy - are appalling. People make mistakes & Ricardo has owned his. This effort to destroy him needs to stop."
In July 2000, then-CA Insurance Commissioner Charles Quackenbush (a Republican) resigned after media outlets reported allegations that he'd received campaign contributions from insurance companies. In 2002, an 18-month investigation by federal, state and Sacramento County prosecutors ended with prosecutors declining to press charges against Quackenbush, indicating the evidence wasn't sufficiently strong.
Sen. Gonzalez will be seeking re-election to a full four year state Senate term in March/Nov. 2020. She and LB Mayor Robert Garcia have endorsed/raised funds to elect candidate Mary Zendejas to fill Gonzalez's vacated 1st Council district seat in a November 2019 special election.
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