Consumer Watchdog launches air strike against Prop. 17


For decades, respected consumer advocate Harvey Rosenfield has been battling Mercury Insurance and other corporations that have sought to undermine Proposition 103, the landmark car insurance regulatory measure that he wrote and California voters approved in 1988. But he's never felt the need to advertise on television, until now.

Today in San Francisco, Rosenfield and the organization he founded, Consumer Watchdog, unveiled a 15-second commercial urging voters to reject Proposition 17, an effort by Mercury Insurance to overturn part of Prop. 103 to allow big surcharges on new drivers or those who have let their coverage lapse for even one day.

Mercury has spent more than $10 million and counting to blanket the media with its messaging, while Rosenfield has scraped together just $250,000 for a one-week Bay Area ad buy.

“We've never done this before, but given that Mercury Insurance is carpet bombing the airwaves with 30-second lies all over the state, we thought we'd do the equivalent of David's slingshot,” Rosenfield told the Guardian.

Most newspapers, consumer groups, and other public interest entities have come out strongly against both Prop. 17 and Prop. 16, an effort by Pacific Gas & Electric to consolidate its monopoly and stop local governments from doing clean energy projects. But these two corporations are expected to spend about $35 million to fool Californians into voting against their interests and to increase corporate profits.

For more, read “Buying Power,” our recent investigation into these companies and their deceptive tactics.