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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Property Insurance Companies Spend Big on Florida Politicians

With rising premiums for homeowner's insurance turning in a major issue in several races (here, here, and here). The Institute on Money and State Politics, which catalogues and analyzes contributions in state races, finds their fingerprints all over Tallahassee.

Sue O'Connell, research director for the Institute, said that in 2004, Florida ranked 10th among all states in total contributions from political donors. But in candidate contributions from the property insurance industry, she said, Florida politicians ranked second in the nation, behind only California that year.

A study by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel found that the industry contributed $11.2 million to Florida candidates and state political parties, with roughly three of every four dollars to Republicans. The 2006 campaigns already have received at least $1.7 million from the property insurance industry.

"It's always hard to say that the money bought something specifically, but the money certainly buys the industry access to decision-makers,'' said O'Connell.

On May 16, Gov. Jeb Bush signed into law a 156-page property insurance bill that, according to the Sun-Sentinel, guarantees higher policyholder costs and bigger insurance industry profits.

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