SACRAMENTO — California’s insurance commissioner apologized Tuesday for accepting campaign contributions from the insurance industry and announced reforms for his office and campaign.
Democrat Ricardo Lara had promised during his campaign not to accept contributions from the industry he is responsible for regulating. But he has taken at least $50,000 in contributions from insurance executives, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported in July.
Lara, in a letter to two consumer groups and a law firm, said his campaign operation scheduled meetings and sought contributions that went against his campaign promise.
“I take full responsibility for that and I am deeply sorry,” he wrote in the letter to United Policyholders, Public Advocates and Health Access.
He Said He Has Returned the Donations
Lara was elected last November as insurance commissioner after serving as a state senator representing parts of Los Angeles County.
He said he has returned the donations and stopped working with the fundraisers who solicited them, but he maintained that he did not break any laws.
Lara said he is halting his fundraising activity until the end of the year and implementing new vetting protocols around his political activity. Lara met in May with the head of a workers’ compensation industry with a pending matter before the department, The Sacramento Bee reported.
Lara also plans to release his calendars, which he has so far refused to do.