The only major consumer groups to support Insurance Commissioner Roxani Gillespie over the last year broke with her on Tuesday, accusing her of reneging on promises to combat redlining and to work for affordable auto insurance for minorities and the poor.
Leaders of Public Advocates Inc., the Latino Issues Forum and the Consumers Union said at a Los Angeles news conference that they have concluded that Gillespie was fooling them all along and is unwilling to do anything substantive to end discriminatory policies by the insurance industry.
Describing new Insurance Department hearings on discriminatory sales practices that began Tuesday as a sham, the organizations refused to put on witnesses they had earlier promised would testify about the alleged unwillingness of insurers to sell reasonably priced policies in low-income and minority areas. The hearing heard from few witnesses and adjourned the first of four scheduled days of testimony after only an hour.
A spokesman for Gillespie, attorney Karl Rubinstein, said later that it is actually the consumer groups that let Gillespie down, failing to come up with the witnesses necessary to prove redlining or intentional discrimination. He said Gillespie remains determined to get at the problem.