Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley’s campaign for governor released new radio commercials Monday that criticize Gov. George Deukmejian as standing aside and allowing insurance rates to rise, while taking more than $700,000 in campaign contributions from insurance companies over the last five years.
But the Bradley strategy of linking the governor’s stands to contributions ran the risk of a Deukmejian counterattack on the hundreds of thousands of dollars that Bradley has received from companies that do business with the city.
At a press conference at Bradley’s Hollywood headquarters, Tom Quinn, Bradley campaign chairman, said that “Deukmejian is protecting the insurance industry and has taken enormous amounts of money from them. . . . He’s either, I guess, being bought or being rewarded.”
Quinn said the Bradley campaign “certainly would never have taken $709,000 from any special-interest group.” But in 1982 alone, during his first gubernatorial campaign, Bradley received more than $1 million from attorneys and $756,000 from labor, according to Legi-Tech, a Sacramento-based campaign contribution reporting service.
Bradley press aide Ali Webb said, however, “We don’t believe that attorneys represent a lobby of any kind. And labor--I think the Teamsters and the United Farm Workers have far different goals. They are not a special interest represented by one lobbyist.”
Larry Thomas, Deukmejian campaign director, said Bradley’s criticism of the governor’s record on insurance is “inconsistent” with Bradley’s opposition to Proposition 51, a June ballot initiative that supporters, including insurance companies, say would place a dent in spiraling premiums. Bradley said he opposes the initiative because it does not guarantee lower insurance rates.
The Bradley commercials, the second round of hard-hitting ads that Bradley has launched against Deukmejian recently, “illustrate a campaign bankrupt in support and momentum, a reckless and pathetic tactic,” Thomas said. “People have disagreed with George Deukmejian but no one has ever seriously questioned his honesty and integrity. For Tom Bradley to do so suggests how low his campaign has sunk.”
Quinn said Deukmejian has opposed several bills that were aimed at lowering insurance rates. The governor’s appointee, the insurance commissioner, could place an immediate freeze on all premiums as a start to solving insurance problems, Quinn said. But a spokesman for the state Department of Insurance disagreed, saying the commissioner does not have that power under the law.
Referring to the contributions that Deukmejian has received from insurance companies, Quinn said that “whether he (Deukmejian) philosophically believes government should not regulate insurance companies, and they happen to like that philosophy and therefore give him money, or whether his philosophies are being influenced by these contributions, I think we’ll never know.”
Implications of Charge
But he said he believes “the two are linked; (the) only question is which came first, the chicken or the egg. . . . Anyone who drives a car, owns a home, is paying a price.” Asked if he was saying Deukmejian is “for sale” as the radio commercials imply, Quinn said, “It’s clear that the governor’s actions favor his contributors and hurt the people of the state.”
Bradley’s charge against Deukmejian resembled one made against the mayor during his reelection campaign last year. Bradley’s mayoral opponent, Councilman John Ferraro, pointed to Bradley’s appointment to a city commission of a man who lent him $300,000. Ferraro also suggested that before the loan was made to Bradley, Richard Riordan made a $3.4-million profit from the sale of land parcels to the city Community Redevelopment Agency, whose board members are appointed by Bradley.
Bradley asserted at the time that there was “no connection” between Riordan’s loan and his appointment to the commission and his land sale to the city.
The new Bradley commercials will air for about a week in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento and Fresno at a cost of about $35,000, Quinn said.