Sunday, March 20, 2016

Mike Causey, the Harold Stassen of North Carolina: Tan, rested, and ready for another campaign.

If there were a political book of truths then it would certainly include this one: 

If you run for an office more than once and lose twice for that same office, then you're done with that office.
What about if you've run for the same office four times and lost four times?  (Not to mention a bid for Congress and for the state legislature, losing both of those other campaigns as well?)

Mike Causey perhaps should be the photo in the dictionary beside the phrase "perennial candidate."  In fact, he's included as one of many examples of "perennial candidate" on Wikipedia.

Thinking that Mike Causey had finally gotten the signal from the continuous rejection by voters during his six prior campaigns for office, this blog went into hibernation after the 2012 election campaign.

Little did anyone know that Mike Causey would be back.

And this time he's running for the same Insurance Commissioner office while holding a full-time, paying state job awarded him by the Governor as a thank-you consolation prize. 

By the way, during his 2016 primary race two other Republicans competitors challenged him.  One of those competitors started asking whether Mike Causey's latest campaign runs afoul of the federal Hatch Act because of Causey's current state employment with the Department of Transportation.  I don't know if it does and I'm not saying that it does or not, but the perception is not good for ol' Mike ... His campaign finance problems in 2012 were swept under the rug by the new Republican board of elections, and now he recently spent six months or more campaigning for office while on the state dime in an agency that receives significant funding from the federal government and he'll be campaigning another seven more months while on the state payroll as well.  It's also noteworthy that he's now in charge of Adopt-a-Highway signage along state roads ... Will he be putting up Causey for Insurance Commissioner signs along the way?  Surely he wouldn't do that. (If someone else doesn't discuss these and related issues with Mike Causey's background and platform, then I'd be shocked.)

For now, scroll back to the posts from 2012 and refresh your recollections about perennial candidate Mike Causey.

The Harold Stassen of North Carolina is back.


Trust but Verify

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Is Mike Causey Fit to Serve as Insurance Commissioner?

With only weeks to go as the countdown to Election Day continues, there are very serious questions about whether Mike Causey is fit to serve as our State Insurance Commissioner.

We've already discussed on this blog his trials and tribulations involving run-ins with Guilford County officials and his direct employment ties to insurance companies, but now there are even more damning reasons why voters would question Causey's fitness to serve in a statewide office in a position that regulates insurance and financial matters.

Since the last posting at this blog, your intrepid blogger has discovered that Mike Causey is embroiled in a major campaign finance scandal involving his current race for Insurance Commissioner.  Articles appeared all over the State about it and consequently all over the Internet.

And many of us just learned of a report from earlier this week that Mike Causey has a history of bankruptcy and federal tax liens, according to his hometown news reporter, Travis Fain of the Greensboro News and Record.

Do we need an insurance commissioner who is all twisted up in admitted errors, originally unreported contributions, unlawfully labeled candidate ads, and apparently an illegal reverse raffle being elected to statewide office? 

The word on the street is that Mike Causey's attempts at minimizing the true extent of his travails and election law violations are unraveling.  He's told his supporters and the press that the problems are much ado about nothing.  But the State Board of Elections confirmed to that Greensboro reporter a few days ago that the investigation is actually still open.  There is also serious speculation that more and more things are being found, which would explain why a supposed minor administrative procedure has ballooned.  A review of Causey's last amended reports even show a discrepancy in the thousands of dollars. It appears more and more that candidate Mike Causey has intentionally downplayed and possibly misled the State Board of Elections and the public about his campaign finance problems.  If true, then that's unacceptable.  Prediction:  Mike Causey is in hot water.

And on the subject of hot water, do we need Mike Causey's brand of doing business -- where he hides his bankruptcy and federal tax liens, declaring them of no use when considering his qualifications for statewide office?  According to that Greensboro news reporter, Causey said the issue is 20 years old and is too ancient.  Because Mike Causey says he is running as a businessman, it is fair game and very relevant for the public to know that Causey has gone from job to job to job, constantly looking unsuccessfully for election or appointment to political office over the  last 20 years, and part of that trek in the business world includes a bankruptcy, prohibition of his selling any real estate during the bankruptcy, and federal tax liens that went unpaid for a lengthy period of time. 

The word on the street is that there may be more tax questions for Mike Causey.  Stay tuned.  Prediction:  Mike Causey's hot water is getting hotter.

But that's not the end of it.

The word on the street is, on knowledge and belief, that reports of other improper personal behavior and matters involving other state laws are potentially on the horizon for Mike Causey.  Prediction:  Who knows?  But people are talking.

I suspect that as a sign of his desperation he's going to lob things against the current insurance commissioner as a means of distracting the public from his own issues.  That wouldn't surprise anyone.  The Bible tells us, of course, "physician, heal thyself" and "first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."

Admittedly all candidates for office, challengers and incumbents alike, are scrutinized for many, many things.  Some of the scrutiny is warranted.  Some of it is not.  Some of it is pure politics, and some of it is fiction or partial fiction.

In the case of Mike Causey, however, there are enough legitimate questions about his fitness for office to give voters a reason to pause, and to ask: 

Do we need to elect a challenger insurance commissioner with this much baggage and so many unanswered questions and growing scandals?

Isn't it instructive for all of us that voters have already rejected Mike Causey three times before for this same office in 1992, 1996 and in 2000?

There is much to learn about Mike Causey before he could ever be deemed fit to serve in elected office.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Has Mike Causey Drunk the Tea Party Kool-Aid?

Mike Causey is running for Insurance Commissioner of North Carolina.  For the fourth time in 20 years.

In addition to the previous expose of his work as a paid lobbyist and a 30-year insurance industry executive, there's yet one more item to add to his political resume:  He's the Tea Party candidate in 2012.

In fact, he's apparently drunk the Kool-Aid on the Tea Party.

Mike Causey has taken up the Tea Party cause and, consequently, he's been endorsed by the Tea Party groups all across North Carolina.  Readers are probably not shocked to learn that some of the Tea Party agenda is way out in deep, right field.

Some of these groups want North Carolina to create its own currency -- you know, its own money.  Isn't it unpatriotic for those people to turn their back on the American greenback?  And isn't it indicative that they and Mike Causey are, as my homebuilder and plumber friends say, a "bubble off center?"

Mike, do you think those insurance companies you want to regulate will take that "funny money" that you and many of your fellow Tea Party members are yearning for?

When Mike Causey and his Tea Party endorsers advocate for changes in insurance laws and less regulation in insurance laws, what they mean is de-regulation of insurance companies ... which means insurance companies can trample consumers and raise prices even more without a reasonable check and/or balance.  Hey, aren't "checks and balances" constitutional (and founding) principles?  You'd think Mike Causey and his Tea Partiers would understand that reasonable insurance regulations are a check and a balance.   (Even Founding Father Thomas Jefferson and fellow signers of the U.S. Constitution would agree with me.)

When Mike Causey says he wants to allow insurance companies to operate in a pure free market here in North Carolina, that means he is endorsing higher insurance rates for everyone.  That's what has apparently happened in other states that have gone the route of Tea Partiers and non-consumer advocates like Mike Causey.

Knowing the above now, my question, then, is two-fold:

What is Mike Causey thinking and what is he drinking?

Yours truly,

Trust But Verify

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Is Mike Causey a CAINO?

Republicans have heard about those elected officials we call RINOs.

You know, they often vote in ways or say or believe things that aren't always conservative.

But when it's election time, it's as if they're Republican and ultra-conservative 24-7.

They are "Republicans in Name Only."

I have a new name for us to ponder.

Mike Causey has worked for thirty years for insurance companies and ten years as a paid legislative lobbyist for body shops, an insurance company, and other special interests.

Now he's campaigning for a fourth time to be NC's insurance commissioner.

And he says he is running as a "consumer advocate." After 30 years working for insurance companies and being a paid lobbyist he says this.

Representing or lobbying for body shops and other vendors is not the same as representing consumers. You know that.  I know that.

After learning things over the last few weeks, Mike Causey is clearly a CAINO.  You know, a Consumer Advocate in Name Only.


Trust but Verify

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mike Causey, Accused of Breaking Rules & Hurting Local Farmers, Wants to be Commissioner of Insurance after receiving a suspension?

Mike Causey is a serial campaigner.  He's lost three times for state insurance commissioner and lost for state senate, and now in 2012 is running for a fourth time to be the person who sets our insurance rates as state commissioner here in North Carolina.

Besides being a paid lobbyist for insurance matters and an insurance company executive for thirty years, Mike Causey also purports to be a local farmer.

But, on information and belief and according to Greensboro news media, he's had serious run-ins with officials about his allegedly selling farm products under-the-table and in violation of other rules.  For example, here are statements from a Guilford County newspaper (Yes Weekly) about the matter involving Mike Causey:

"The vast majority of the complaints — as attested by knowledgeable sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, and corroborated by a sampling of enforcement letters obtained from the parks and recreation department —center on Mike Causey, who operates Dodge Lodge Farm in southeastern Guilford County.

“It was noticed on Saturday (May 30), that you were selling blueberries,” Leonard wrote to Causey on June 10.  She noted that an application for a variance filed by Causey a year earlier to resell blueberries from Johnston and other North Carolina counties had been denied “due to the fact that we currently have local vendors who grow their own blueberries selling at the market.”

An investigation led to Causey also getting charged with a second violation and receiving a suspension

According to the newspaper account, Causey even admitted that he "knowingly violated the rules."

A local Guilford County official said, “In my opinion if someone continues to flaunt the rules, they shouldn’t be there.”

Further, Causey's suspension and penalties were lessened and then waived.  However, those changes were due to "political pressure" applied by Mike Causey and others, say observers.

In a later article published by Greensboro's "Yes Weekly", this appeared:

"Causey’s business practices have not been without controversy. His new business launch comes on the heel of a decision by the Greensboro Parks & Recreation Department to suspend him from the city’s farmers market. Causey ran afoul of the city by selling produce that he had not personally grown on his farm, bypassing guidelines meant to give preference for locally produced goods and ensure that customers have accurate information about the source of food products."

If Mike Causey has done things to hurt local farmers and violated rules for his own personal gain and special interest, do you believe insurance man/lobbyist Mike Causey will stand up for us and fight special interests who want to raise our insurance rates even higher?

If Mike Causey believes it is alright to hide from customers accurate information about food products, then is he going to make sure we know what we're getting when we buy an insurance product?

Not just "no," but "Hell, no."

If a man allegedly can't deal in good faith on matters of fruits and vegetables, then you can't trust him to deal on matters in good faith as Insurance Commissioner.

Yours truly,
- Trust but Verify


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Should we elect insurance company executive, lobbyist Mike Causey as Insurance Commissioner?

The short answer is "No!"

North Carolina's elected state insurance commissioner sets rates for many insurance products.

North Carolina's elected state insurance commissioner regulates the licenses of insurance agents and all insurance companies here.

North Carolina's elected state insurance commissioner also decides to punish wayward insurance companies and others that gouge or harm our people, and what the punishment will be.

North Carolina's elected state insurance commissioner and his experts at the Department of Insurance make countless decisions every day affecting the lives and livelihoods of those agents and companies, but, most importantly, decisions affecting the pocketbooks of every person and business in this state.
It has come to the attention of many educated voters as we prepare for the 2012 elections that one of the candidates for Commissioner of Insurance has worked for years as a paid lobbyist (!!!) and has even worked as an insurance company executive. That person is Republican Mike Causey.

Perhaps Causey will try to make a distinction by saying that he wasn't a lobbyist for insurance companies, as he has expressed in other media. (But what about Benecom?)  Causey has also tried to say he was a lobbyist as a "consumer advocate". Not exactly true:  He worked for special interests, including body shops and others trying to get insurance payments and coverage, and advocating for measures that would make our insurance costs go up and payments to those special business interests (his clients) go up!  He called it "consumer" advocacy.  I don't think so.  And, Mike Causey was apparently a lobbyist for Benecom in the mid-1990s, according to the Secretary of State. What is Benecom Corporation? It's "an insurance firm", reads a 1998 article published by the Greater Triad Area Business Journal.

No matter what he professes now to be -- farmer, consultant, businessman -- Mike Causey still worked as a paid, high-up insurance executive directly for three insurance companies!

His own campaign biography mentions that he worked as an "insurance executive" and has "30 years" of experience in the insurance industry. He has also championed his insurance industry experience in a statewide voter guide this year where he personally declared he "has 30 years experience in the insurance business, as well as 10 years legislative lobbying experience ...."
In a recent interview with Kristie Skinner Bass, Mike Causey spoke about his lengthy experience as an insurance man: 

"Causey’s career in the insurance industry began with Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife) in the Charlotte, NC District office, where he worked as a sales rep and sales manager. Later, Causey was named General Manager of the Charlotte, NC Agency of Protective Life Insurance Company.  In the mid-1980's, Causey was named  Superintendent of Agencies with Standard Life Insurance Company for North Carolina and four other states."
And on top of that, Mike Causey is proclaimed "The Voice of the Industry". This should make certain body shop dealers and some insurance companies ecstatic.  (And it should worry the heck out of the voting public like you and me!) The linked industry publication is the same publication that Causey has written regular special interest articles for over a long period of time, including during this election season while he's been a declared, filed candidate.
So, to summarize, Mike Causey is someone who has worked thirty -- 30 -- years for the insurance industry and 10 years as a lobbyist who now wants to be our elected state insurance commissioner and set our insurance rates?

So desperate is Mike Causey to become the grand poobah of insurance regulation in North Carolina that he has run unsuccessfully three - yep, three - times for the same office over the last twenty years. So desperate is he for this office that he has filed and is now in a runoff election for the Republican nomination. He's running a fourth time!

And on his website and in his campaign materials and in his speeches Mike Causey pleads that he wants to lower insurance rates. As a candidate running for office he's probably expected to say that. But out of the other side of his mouth he says things that some insurance companies and their executives froth favorably at the mouth to hear, like "modernizing" and "streamlining". We know what that's double-speak for. Do we really believe that Mike Causey has had a Damascus experience, and has seen the light, eschewing his paid lobbyist and insurance industry ways? Do we think he can have it both ways, lowering insurance rates for people while promising insurance companies and their high-paid, multi-million-dollar executives that he's going to "reform"the system by raising rates on us all? And, has anyone noticed that he began his 2012 campaign by promising owners of multimillion-dollar homes on the Dare County beach that he'd make the rest of North Carolina (that's the rest of us) pay for their insurance exposures at the beach? ( He's already slamming his runoff primary opponent, Richard Morgan, for Morgan's standing up for the remaining 90 percent of the state's population that doesn't have million dollar homes at or live at the beach. Morgan, by the way, received the most votes in the May primary election, and Causey is challenging him to a runoff duel at the ballot box. Richard Morgan served as co-Speaker of our state's House of Representatives.

Masquerading now as a "farmer" by day, Mike Causey continues his campaign by night touting what he'd do as insurance commissioner, telling everyone he'd do away with a mysterious "good ol' boy network" and making promises fast and furious to anyone who will listen. (As for his "farmer" persona, even with that it appears he has run afoul of local law in the recent past, and has been accused of selling products under the table, etc.

This wolf in sheep's clothing tried to defeat the mighty Jim Long in 1992, 1996 and in 2000. Jim Long was the consumer's best friend as our Commissioner of Insurance.

And now Mike Causey, like a cicada emerging after an eight sabbatical from running as insurance commissioner, is back! (Some persons have heard that he never has really gone away because he did serve a role like campaign manager for the 2004 and 2008 Republican nominees in the interim, which means he's been trying to influence the election of Insurance Commissioner for over 20 solid years straight.) He's now in 2012 taking on Jim Long's protege and successor, Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, a protege who has saved North Carolinians over a billion dollars.

But Mike Causey has emerged once again, hoping that no one will remember his past campaigns and that no one will remember who and what he really is --- A long-time paid lobbyist and former insurance executive. Not to mention his title as frequently-failed candidate for office.

He appears once again as some insurance companies push and push for less public oversight, and to raise rates any and every way possible.

The re-emergence of Mike Causey is not an accident.

As we prepare for this year's elections, let's ponder these necessary questions:

Do we need our insurance commissioner to be someone whose very independence from special interests is called into question from day one?

Do we need a Trojan horse as Insurance Commissioner?
Do we need Mike Causey, a former insurance lobbyist and a former insurance executive, to be elected State Insurance Commissioner and deciding insurance rates for us common folks?

Not just no, but hell no.

Yours truly,
- Trust But Verify
("Trust but verify" was a popular phrase of our President Ronald Reagan, the hero of many of us; for purposes of this post, trust what I say, but for assurance and confirmation you're encouraged to go to the linked source material above for verification.)