Mercury Mail Fraud in Quest to Pass Deceptive Prop 17

Facing a surge of voter opposition in the last few days of its campaign for Proposition 17, sponsor Mercury Insurance has injected another $1 million dollars into its campaign to fund last-minute mailings and advertising that conceal the insurer’s support and feature a fraudulent “Consumer Coalition of California.” View the mailer here. To date, Mercury has donated $16 million to fund the Prop 17 campaign. Prop 17 would penalize Californians who opt to stop driving for a time, for virtually any reason. Voters would be required to pay up to a $1,000 more dollars a year for auto insurance when they sought to restart coverage.

The so-called “Consumer Coalition of California” whose name appears on the Prop 17 mailer is run by a Texas woman, Virginia Jarrow, who has repeatedly sided with industry. All legitimate consumer groups in California, including, Consumers Union, Consumer Watchdog and Consumer Federation of California oppose Proposition 17. The Mercury funded mailers also fail to identify Mercury as an insurance company in state mandated disclosures. The disclosure on the mailers state: “Paid for by Yes On 17-Californians For Fair Auto Insurance Rates And Mercury General Corporation And Affiliates.” Mercury Insurance’s corporate parent, Mercury General Corporation, doesn’t have “insurance” in its name. Basically, this is consumer fraud and it’s outrageous.

Turns out Jarrow is not alone. Mercury Insurance has been paying other front groups for their “support.” Californians for Fair Auto Insurance Rates (Cal-FAIR) Mercury Insurance has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Bicker, Castillo & Fairbanks, a public relations firm, to create a front group called Californians for Fair Auto Insurance Rates or CAL-FAIR. The chief spokesperson for CAL-FAIR, Kathy Fairbanks, is a communications consultant and partner in the firm that runs campaigns for several different corporations and interest groups. Consumers First, Inc. Jim Conran is listed as the co-chair for Californians for Fair Auto Insurance Rates (Cal-FAIR)/Yes on 17 campaign. As head of something he calls Consumers First, Inc. (which doesn’t appear to be incorporated or have a website), Conran has been paid tens of thousands of dollars by the Prop 17 campaign to help Mercury Insurance try to deceive voters on the measure. Prop 17 is not his only deception. Mr. Conran is a pay-for-play PR professional who is paid by industry executives to run several front group projects. Kirk West Kirk West, a co-chair of CAL-FAIR, has already made over $30,000 as a paid spokesman for Mercury Insurance’s campaign on Prop 17. He was formerly the President of the Chamber of Commerce and is now a gun-for-hire for industry executives. Hopefully, voters will read the editorial boards that oppose Prop 17, or the Stop Prop 17 ad, or take a look at the site: and vote no on Prop 17!