Judge Campaign Orchestrated by State Farm Insurance CompanyState Farm is an insurance company that most Americans will be very familiar with. It ranks among the most popular insurance companies to provide services to the public like Allstate, Geico, and Liberty Mutual. These businesses present themselves as “good neighbors” offering a helping hand to customer's in times of need but what goes on behind the surface will sour anyone's perception of these massive corporations. The massive insurance company recently agreed to pay $250 million dollars to settle a class action alleging that State Farm used its resources to secretly orchestrate the funding of Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier's election in 2004 through a RICO enterprise. The plaintiffs claim that the rationale for this move was to install a loyal Justice within the system to work in their interests by by doing things like voting to overturn a $1.05 billion dollar verdict against the insurance company.
State Farm Secretly Funds A Judge's ElectionThe plaintiffs claim that State Farm insurance secretly funded the election of Justice Karmeier in 2005 through the Illinois Civil Justice League and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to fund millions in campaign contributions into his campaign for Illinois Supreme Court Justice. Apparently a state farm lawyer helped found the Illinois Civil Justice League and also hired that organization's president, Ed Murnane, who would go on to assist in running Karmeier's campaign without claiming close to $700,000 in expenses as in-kind donations. In addition, the Illinois Civil Justice League's PAC contributed about 1.2 million to the Karmeier campaign as well. The money doesn't stop there. In addition to the funds that made their way through the Illinois Civil Justice League to Karmeier's campaign, even more found its way through the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. The CEO of State Farm actually was a factor in the contribution of around $1 million dollars to the chamber of commerce committee that was targeting the Illinois Supreme Court Race. From that chamber of commerce committee, $2 million dollars were contributed towards the Illinois Republican Party which then doubled that in contributions to Karmeier's election.
Illinois Justice Votes in Best Interest of State FarmOnce Justice Karmeier was elected to the Illinois Supreme Court, he was in a position of significant power when it came to ruling for or against decisions that would be in the best interest of State Farm. In one case, plaintiffs had managed to get a $1.05 billion judgement against State Farm and sought Karmeier's recusal in the pending appeal due to State Farm's alleged role in bankrolling his election. The plaintiffs who managed to obtain the judgement claimed that State Farm had a breach of contract when it used non-original parts in vehicles damaged in accidents. Karmeier voted to overturn the the judgement when the Illinois Supreme court decided the case back in 2005.
Dark Money and Insurance CompaniesThis is only a single instance of an insurance company using its resources to ensure that policy makers that hold their best interests are elected and appointed to office. One instance that resulted in some fiscal losses but ultimately will not halt the problem with campaign financing by companies looking to buy politicians and policymakers. Out of all of the insurance companies operating in this country, how many do you think have resorted to underhanded tactics to ensure that their stockholders are satisfied by minimal loss? Insurance companies may present themselves as a friendly neighborhood business eager to assist but at the end of the day once you peel back the veneer of expensive marketing campaigns tailored to appeal to the masses, you get another sprawling company whose bottom line concern is making money.
Insurance Companies and Influencing PoliticsThis news with State Farm only scratches the surface of what insurance companies are willing to do. Of course it would be wrong to generalize about all insurance companies based off the actions of just one insurance company using underhanded tactics. What we do know for sure is that insurance companies do spend millions of dollars to fund the campaigns of politicians and policy makers that will support their interests. We know insurance companies have their sights set on influencing the political arena for their own interests. Whether you believe that many will take less ethical routes in exerting their influence is up to you.
Insurance Companies are not Your FriendThe primary function of an insurance company is to sell insurance plans to customers who pay for the coverage afforded by whichever plan they purchase for whichever kind of accident, so that the insurance company can make a profit. They sell these plans in the assumption that more enough sales are made and few enough claims are made so that a profitable balance can be struck. This is easier said than done as many probably know. If insurance companies like State Farm relied on the hope that they would have enough money from sales and little enough money paid to claims to make a profit, then they likely would not be as big a company as they are today. This is why insurance companies work to minimize the amount of money they are required to pay to claims and lawsuits. Insurance companies will do everything in their power and utilize every resource they have in order to minimize the money that they have to pay out. Like State Farm, some will attempt to influence politics by funneling massive amounts of money through several sources and into the campaign of a politician friendly to their interests. On another level, insurance companies will work to reduce the amount they pay to single claims through a number of legal yet unsavory practices.
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