Wednesday, August 31, 2005

It's legal! or illegal!

The Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) ruling is in for Doug' Forrester and the violation of election law with his campaign financing and donations. And, as expected, the GOP spins it as "a clear win for us" and the Dems state that it shows a clear violation of the law and are calling for an investigation.

Here's Doug's take on it:
“DOBI’s opinion today confirms what we’ve been saying all along – Doug has always followed the letter and spirit of New Jersey’s laws,” said Forrester for Governor campaign director Sherry Sylvester. “We asked for this affirmation from the DOBI to end the distracting and mean-spirited attacks form the Corzine camp and focus on issues that matter to the people of this state.”

Here's Jon's take on it:
...the Department of Banking and Insurance observes that it does not regulate captive insurance companies because captives are illegal in New Jersey, it confirms that Benecard Services, acting as Heartland’s general managing agent, is engaged in activities that “necessarily include some insurance business activities.”
Thus Bryan concludes that, by virtue of his ownership of Benecard, Mr. Forrester “is subject to the Department’s regulatory oversight under applicable statutes and rules.”
As such, Mr. Forrester’s political contributions violate N.J.S.A. 19:34-32 and -45.

And here's the DOBI's:

N.J.S.A. 52:145-8 provides that an agency "upon the request of an interested
party may, at it's discretion, make a binding declaratory ruling with respect to
the applicibility of any person, property, or state of facts any statute or rule
enforced or administered by the agency." The Department seldom exercizes its
descretion to issue a binding declaratory ruling, and declines to do so here.


The the activities of Benecard... however, necessarily include some insurance business activities.... The Department's authority to licence and regulate these activities in New Jersey is ... clear. ... Benecard must (and does) satisfy those requirements by being a licenced resident insurance producer....

My (non-lawyer) analysis is that the DOBI said, "Leave us out of it. But, if you must know, Heartland is licenced in DC and they have Benecard as an agent in NJ and they haven't violated insurance law by doing so."

So the Dems still believe Forrester has violated election law, and they plan to persue it. The GOP believes they've been exonerated since they follow insurance laws, and resident insurance producers (aka agents) are allowed to make campaign donations. I don't think this advisory opinion has changed much; we're all still where we started. I still think Forrester will get out of this one; it's just going to take longer than he though.

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