A $500,000 donation made to a community group by an earthquake foundation created by California Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush has stirred new criticism of the department head. The Sacramento Urban League, promoting employment for minority groups, received the donation from the California Research and Assistance Fund, set up by Quackenbush last year to promote earthquake safety. Officials with the league claim the money will help pay for a $5.1 million facility for worker training. The Los Angeles Times reported the donation Monday, even as the state’s attorney general is investigating the legality of the foundation. Also under scrutiny is the urban league’s television ads featuring Quackenbush while he was running for reelection. Quackenbush has also joined the league’s board of directors. Both Quackenbush and league representatives deny that the donation had anything to do with the commissioner’s addition to the board. But consumer groups have raised concerns over the fact that the foundation’s only known expenditures are $3 million for the television ads featuring the commissioner, the $500,000 gift to the Urban League and an undetermined amount to set up an earthquake preparedness web site. Quackenbush also faces an April 26 hearing over reports he ignored his legal team’s recommendation to issue $3.3 billion in fines against State Farm, 21st Century Insurance Group and Allstate Corp. for underpaying claims stemming from the Northridge earthquake.
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