on August 28, 2012 by admin in Insurance Industry, Comments (0)

Breslin campaign coffers well-insured

Of the nearly $150,000 Sen. Neil Breslin has raised since January, 25 percent comes from the insurance industry.

Trying to win an eighth term in office, the Bethlehem Democrat is in the middle of a bitter primary against fellow Democrat Shawn Morse, the chairman of the Albany County Legislature.

The Cohoes firefighter wastes no time taking jabs at the senator for taking money from an industry he's in charge of regulating as the ranking Democrat of the Senate Insurance Committee and as chair of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators.

"If I was a state senator, I would not be breaking bread with those people," Morse said. "If I was in the position where I was chairing the industry, I would not take money from the industry I was chairing. It's an inherent conflict of interest."

But Breslin, the Delmar Democrat who has held the now-44th District seat for 16 years, said his work in the committees is on behalf of constituents. He said 25 percent does not represent a large portion of the funds he has raised and that accepting the contributions is perfectly legal.

"It's understandable you'd get it in an area you are skilled in," Breslin said. "For my 16 years, every year I've advocated for a system that does away with contributions."

Breslin said he is in favor of publicly funded campaigns and campaign finance reform, but wouldn't go as far as to say he'd set an example with his own campaign.

"To set an example, what you're doing is you'd have an unlevel playing field," he said. "You would have candidates cold calling (for contributions)."

While the campaign contribution system continues to function in the way that it does, he said, he'll take the insurance cash.

"There is nothing immoral or illegal from taking those contributions and they don't change what I do," he said. "If you look at other people, they're receiving a lot more money than I am."

But among Senate Democrats, Breslin received more insurance contributions than anyone else in the first seven months of the year. In that time, Breslin took in $29,500 in insurance company or insurance lobbyist contributions, while the next highest amount of insurance contributions, $12,750, went to Sen. Eric Adams of Brooklyn.

"I just don't see how you can possibly find that to be ethically correct," Morse said. "People do not give you money if you're not willing to help them with what they want."

Morse, who has taken 40 percent of his campaign contributions from the breakaway senate group the Independent Democratic Committee and told the Times Union earlier this month he did not recall some of his downstate donors, said he won't take contributions from those who lobby committees he oversees.

"I would make it very clear that I would not accept any donations from any committee which I have any oversight," he said.

Morse said Breslin's insurance donations demonstrate his loyalty to that industry, and pointed to a 2010 law under which Breslin said insurance companies would have to get prior approval to raise rates but the approval only applied when they were raising rates for small businesses or individual policies.

"How do you tell people you're working with insurance companies when they're writing legislation, putting it through and then you get caught because you don't know what you're voting for," Morse said.

But Breslin said the donations don't change the fact that he fights for constituents in the insurance committees.

"Those insurance companies know that Neil Breslin is protecting the consumer," he said.

Breslin touted an autism law he helped pass mandating insurance companies cover the illness more comprehensively at an earlier age, legislation where higher portions of health insurance premiums pay for actual health care and a life insurance law he said reformed the industry.

"I think my record speaks for itself," he said. "Constituents first and the insurance industry second."

droman@timesunion.com • 518-454-5350 • @dayelinR • http://facebook.com/dayelinTU

Article source: http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Breslin-campaign-coffers-well-insured-3819340.php

Tags: , ,

No Comments

Comments are disabled.