When is a paid employee a volunteer? When a surcharge is a discount.

In response to our Consumer Alert exposing the Prop 33 campaign for using paid campaign employees in their TV ads, the insurance industry-backed Proposition 33 campaign issued a statement to the LA Times Opinion blog – excerpts below – stating that “the two women in their ads were simply volunteering their stories in support of the effort to pass Proposition 33.”  That disingenuous response begs the question:

Is a Paid Employee a Volunteer? I guess if you can call charging people more for their auto insurance simply for not driving a “discount,” then why not call an employee a volunteer?

California election law requires campaigns that use paid spokespeople in their ads disclose this within the ad.  Nowhere in these ads do the proponents disclose that the two women work for the PR firm that is being paid over half a million dollars to run the Yes on 33 campaign.  That is why we filed an official complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission asking them to investigate the ads for violating election law.

If you feel that the public has a right to know when the people in campaign ads are being paid for their opinions, then watch our Consumer Alert and share with your friends and networks to help us combat these insurance-industry lies.

Excepts from the:


October 3, 2012

“Marketplace argues that it didn’t violate the law, and that may be technically correct. But the campaign misleads the public by presenting employees of its political consultant as disinterested consumers who just want a break on their insurance premiums…That seems par for the course for backers of Proposition 33, the latest in a long series of efforts by Mercury Insurance founder George Joseph to undo part of 1988’s Proposition 103.”

“In its response Tuesday, Marketplace said: ‘We encourage Consumer Watchdog to continue drawing attention to the ads because the message they deliver is both honest and direct.'”

“…The message is direct, all right, but it isn’t honest.”


Posted by Daniel Palay, New Media Director of Consumer Watchdog Campaign and supporter of StopProp33.com.  For more information on the campaign visit us on Facebook and Twitter