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 is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(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.

[Scroll down for further.]

Among matters related to Commissioner Lara, ConsumerWatchdog's Sept. 20 letter mentions Senator Gonzalez in two places:

  • Consumer Watchdog's letter notes that the Gonzalez for Senate campaign received three contributions totaling $25,000 ($8,000 + 8,500 + 8,500), all dated March 22, 2019, from three individuals Consumer Watchdog describes as having links to a firm seeking Insurance Commission office approval on a pending matter. ConsumerWatchdog's letter notes that the Gonzalez campaign subsequently made two payments totaling $24,000 -- $12,000 on March 25 and $12,000 on June 10 (plus an April 24 reimbursement of $210 for office expenses) -- to an individual for services provided to the Gonzalez state Senate campaign. ConsumerWatchdog says the individual was also then-involved in political fundraising for Commissioner Lara. ConsumerWatchdog asks the prosecutors' office to examine whether the contributions were properly made to support Gonzalez's 2019 state Senate run or may have been intended to fog a different intended recipient.

  • In a Sept. 19 press release (but not in its Sept. 20 letter to prosecutors), ConsumerWatchdog notes that Sen. Gonzalez name appears in an April 24 text message to Commissioner Lara from a Department of Insurance employee's phone and in a May 1 email from an individual involved in a matter then pending before the Insurance Commissioner's office, as the individual sought to arrange meetings with Commissioner Lara. The May 1 email, in two separately numbered paragraphs, seeks to schedule two meetings with Lara: (1) a formal policy discussion with the Commissioner to discuss the matter pending in his office and (2) a political meeting with the Commissioner, "Lena Gonzales" [sic] and Lara's then-political fundraising person. ConsumerWatchdog says only one meeting appears to have occurred (May 6 in Los Angeles) and other records don't indicate that Gonzalez was among those notified or who may have attended that meeting.



In a Sept. 22 email response to the ConsumerWatchdog letter provided to, 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.



Help keep our independent news going and growing in Long Beach. No one in's ownership, reporting or editorial decision-making has ties to development interests or other special interests seeking or receiving benefits of City Council development-related decisions; or holds a City Hall appointive position; or has contributed sums to political campaigns for Long Beach incumbents or challengers. No one in our ownership, reporting or editorial decision-making has been part of the governing board of any City government body or other entity on whose policies we report. is reader and advertiser supported. You can help keep really independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Recommend to your Facebook friends:

Follow with:




Return To Front Page

Contact us:

Adoptable pet of the week:

Carter Wood Floors
Hardwood Floor Specialists
Call (562) 422-2800 or (714) 836-7050

Copyright © 2018, LLC. All rights reserved. Terms of Use/Legal policy, click here. Privacy Policy, click here