Herrera heralds defeat of Prop 17 “Lemon”

10 Jun

Californians for Progress

For Immediate Release
John Whitehurst
(415) 615-0311 x16

S.F. City Attorney known for protecting consumers, fighting insurers had aired TV campaign against auto insurance measure in campaign’s closing weeks

SAN FRANCISCO (June 9, 2010)—San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera today heralded the defeat of Proposition 17, the anti-consumer measure largely funded by Mercury Auto Insurance, which with 100 percent of precincts reporting lost by a margin of 47.9 percent to 52.1 percent statewide.  Herrera had launched a memorable television ad campaign against the measure in San Francisco, in which he said about the deceptive proposal, “It’s a lemon!”  Herrera underscored the metaphor by narrating his ad behind the wheel of a yellow AMC Pacer, the iconic 1970s-era vehicle widely known for its lemon-like qualities.

Prop 17’s margin of defeat was far more pronounced in San Francisco, where Herrera’s TV ad campaign ran for four weeks, with voters rejecting the measure by a margin of nearly 40 points, 30.89 percent to 69.11 percent.

“California voters deserve tremendous credit—they didn’t buy the auto insurers’ deceptive sales pitch, and they recognized a lemon when they saw one,” said Herrera.  “I’m especially proud of my fellow San Franciscans who opposed the measure so overwhelmingly.  I’m grateful to have been joined by so many of my supporters in fighting alongside consumer groups from around the state to defeat one of this election’s prime examples of a special interest abusing our initiative process.   Thankfully, voters also rejected another deceptive special interest campaign—the PG&E-funded Prop 16.  I’m proud that my office joined with municipalities and public utilities from around the state to challenge Prop 16’s deceptive intent in the courts.   Though our legal efforts fell short, we can at least be thankful to voters for doing the right thing by voting Prop 16 down just as decisively as they did Prop 17.”

Proposition 17 was not the first time Herrera has stood up to insurance companies.  During his first term as City Attorney in 2003, Herrera led a coalition that included the cities of Los Angeles and Oakland to end “ZIP-Code profiling,” a discriminatory practice by auto insurers that based rates on where drivers lived rather than on their driving records.  Last year, Herrera sued state regulators to end an unconstitutional practice that allowed health insurance companies to charge women up to 39 percent more for coverage for individual policies based solely on their gender.  Herrera’s lawsuit led to state legislation that ended the practice, known as “gender rating.”

Herrera was honored last year as the 2009 Consumer Attorney of the Year by the National Association of Consumer Advocates.  The Washington, D.C.-based association boasts 1,500 attorneys from throughout the United States who have represented hundreds of thousands of consumers victimized by fraudulent, abusive and predatory business practices.  The nationwide organization is committed to actively promoting a fair and open marketplace that protects the rights of consumers, particularly those of modest means.

To view Dennis Herrera’s anti-Prop 17 ad online, visit…

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