John Garamendi, Democratic candidate for California Insurance Commissioner, succeeded this week in forcing Green Party candidate David Sheidlower to delete a portion of his ballot statement in the state voters’ pamphlet.
The portion of Sheidlower’s candidate statement in question states, “There have been two elected insurance commissioners. The first, a Democrat, was connected with selling the assets of a California company to a foreign government, and the second, a Republican, resigned in scandal.”
Sheidlower’s statement makes reference to Garamendi’s takeover of Executive Life, reportedly allowing a disreputable junk-bond artist and a French bank to make a fortune while thousands of elderly and physically disadvantaged policyholders lost much of their primary means of support.
The Garamendi campaign claimed that the ballot statement was a violation of the Secretary of State’s guidelines for candidate statements even though the Secretary of State’s office had approved the statement and defended their decision in court. The Sacramento Superior Court ruled against the Secretary of State and had the portion removed from Sheidlower’s statement.
Garamendi had initially sought to have candidate statements for both Sheidlower and Gary Mendoza, the GOP nominee for Insurance Commissioner, altered. However, he was forced to drop the lawsuit against Mendoza late last week.
The portion of Mendoza’s campaign statement that Garamendi challenged reads, “During the last twelve years, the California Department of Insurance has been plagued by over-politicization, gross mismanagement and scandal.”
Mendoza consultant Kevin Spillane commented, “It is unfortunate that Garamendi has succeeded in suppressing the free speech rights of one of his opponents. It is a telling sign, however, of just how concerned Garamendi is about the closeness of this race and the political threat that the Executive Life fiasco poses to his campaign.”
A Garamendi campaign advisor told Insurance Journal that California law dictates a candidate may not submit statements in regard to other candidates in their ballot statements.
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