Mass. Auto Insurers Among Largest Donors to Patrick Inaugural

January 2, 2007

Four of the nine top contributors to Gov.-elect Deval Patrick’s inaugural are major auto insurers, whose businesses could be greatly affected by any efforts by Patrick to reform the state’s highly regulated industry.

Arbella Insurance Group, the Commerce Group, the Hanover Insurance Group, and Liberty Mutual Group were among nine donors at the platinum level of giving, according to a donor list released by Patrick’s inaugural team Friday.

The five other platinum givers were Comcast, The Beal Companies, Joanne and Paul Egerman, Simon Brand Ventures, and the State Street Corp., The Boston Globe reported. Lesser contributors are listed as gold, silver, sponsors and friends.

A spokesman for Patrick’s inaugural effort, Stephen Crawford, would not say how much each contributor had given, but said Patrick will eventually detail all donations. Corporate donations were capped at $50,000.

The four auto insurers have a major stake in a less regulated system, which proponents say would bring more competition and lower costs, and which opponents say would discriminate against certain drivers.

Gov. Mitt Romney pushed for deregulation, to little effect. Lawmakers ended up taking no action, but the debate is expected to continue after Patrick’s inauguration Thursday. During the campaign, Patrick signaled that he favors more competition in the current framework, but he has not specifically said what he’ll do once in office.

All four insurance companies have been active in the debate, but they’ve taken different sides. Arbella and Commerce have lobbied to keep the current model, and Liberty Mutual and Hanover have pushed for deregulation.

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Information from: The Boston Globe, http://www.boston.com/globe

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