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     I'm going to try to keep this short, so I'll put the punch line up front.  State Farm is not budging in its support of ALEC.  I think that if you are a policy holder, you should do two things.  First, write an e-mail to your agent.  Second, call State Farm's complaint line -- 518-884-5346.  My agent says they tabulate the complaints they receive, so the complaint line is definitely worth doing.  My agent had to call "corporate" to find out the story on this, so complaining to the agent doubtless also causes ripples up the corporate chain.  

I now think they're a pretty right-wing outfit (which I did not previously know), so they won't back off without a lot of pressure.

Here are a couple of the e-mails I sent that you can steal from:  

State Farm's Support of State Legislation Unrelated to Its Business

Date: Apr 12, 2012 6:15 PM

Julie,

I have been a customer of State Farm's for about 30 years.  I have just been surprised to learn about State Farm's support of a hyper-partisan legislative group, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which promulgates all sorts of bad legislation in state legislatures.  The legislative initiatives that State Farm, and unfortunately the premiums I pay, end up supporting include numerous things that I personally strongly oppose.  You may have heard of the Florida "Stand Your Ground" law that recently led to the death of a young Florida boy, Trayvon Martin.  That was an ALEC initiative, supported by State Farm.  I do not see what business it is of State Farm's to support an organization dedicated to such extreme measures that have nothing to do with its business.

Undesirably permissive legislation concerning the use of firearms is hardly the only bad legislation State Farm promulgates through ALEC.  Many other legislative initiatives have such aims as suppressing voter turnout among the poor and minorities, limiting the rights of union members, ending any measures to deal with global warming, and privatizing schools, among others.  I do not see what any of this has to do with car insurance, and I do not intend for my premiums to support such measures for long.

As you may know, many corporations -- Coca-Cola, Kraft, McDonald's, Wendy's and others -- are getting out of the political business that their support of ALEC involves.  Kindly let me know whether State Farm will be doing the same.

David

My agent replied that she had never heard of this and asked where I got my information, so I sent her the following response, citing Krugman, NPR, etc., to hide the fact that I'm just another DFH.

Julie,

          I learned about ALEC from this New York Times Op-Ed piece.

                 http://www.nytimes.com/...

          The Times piece links to this list of ALEC supporters, which includes State Farm.

                 http://www.opensecrets.org/...

           State Farm seems to think that supporting the legislative initiatives of ALEC is just fine.

                 www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=208045709222910

          One of Alec's, and by extension State Farm's, initiatives, is the appalling Florida "Stand Your Ground" law.

                 http://www.npr.org/...

           I heartily disagree that State Farm should be supporting a broad and socially damaging right-wing agenda, including, as I noted, support of permissive gun laws and other radical measures.

           Thank you for looking into this.  Please communicate my displeasure to "corporate," although they seem to  be quite pleased that they are supporting this group.  I, of course, reserve my right to take my business elsewhere if they don't change their position.  

          David

     Their ultimate response was:  "We do not support all of the positions or policies adopted by these organizations. Our work with ALEC involves only matters related to our customers’ needs: the affordability and availability of insurance."

     I have found a cheaper source of insurance and expect to cancel my policy in the next couple of weeks.

Originally posted to David in NY on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 02:03 PM PDT.

Also republished by American Legislative Transparency Project.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Just one. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David in NY, phonegery, allergywoman

    This is just one of the reasons I will not purchase anything from State Farm....

    •  But it is a mutual, policyholders own it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David in NY

      If you are a policyholder of State Farm Mutual, speak out. Let them know that you don't want managers to be engaging in political activities that hurt their owners, the policyholders. Tell Edward Rust that these activities are betraying the purpose of the company, the purpose of all mutuals and cooperatives. ALEC is an enemy of all forms of enterprise other than corporate.

      The GOP is the party of mammon. They mock what Jesus taught.

      by freelunch on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 03:23:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hmm if they are memebrs, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David in NY, phonegery, freelunch

    pay dues to ALEC then yes they do support all the Positions ALEC takes. They don't get to pick and choose.

    Republican Family Values: Using the daughters from your first wife to convince everybody that your second wife is lying about your third wife.

    by jsfox on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 02:16:15 PM PDT

    •  They only listen to the sound of money, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      phonegery, allergywoman

      not reason.

      •  Oops -- (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        phonegery, allergywoman

        and what you said is what my cancellation notice will say.

      •  Don't forget that (5+ / 0-)

        State Farm is a mutual insurance company, and board elections are coming up this June.   Every policyholder has the right to vote in person, or by proxy. As their annual reports that they always send out say:

        The annual meeting of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is held each year at 10 a.m. on the second Monday of June at the company’s Corporate Headquarters, One State Farm Plaza, Bloomington, Illinois.  All members may participate in the annual meeting and have a right to vote by proxy or in person. You may receive a proxy by writing to Customer Service, One State Farm  Plaza, Bloomington, Illinois 61710.  Please include your State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company policy number in your request.  Proxies must be on file with the Corporate Secretary 20 days before the annual meeting.
        I'm not sure whether the "proxy" is effectively an absentee ballot, or a document that allows you to state a person who may vote your proxy, but I intend to send in a request for my own policy to find out for certain.  I've tried to talk some of the groups doing work on ALEC to adopt this as a strategy, but I think that they are just to busy to do it. If it really is effectively an absentee ballot, then this is a lot easier than I've been thinking.  If it designates a proxy, this is something where someone is going to have to be willing to got to the meeting to execute proxies.

        http://www.economicpopulist.org

        by ManfromMiddletown on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 02:54:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Most proxies are used for management self-support (0+ / 0-)

          Rarely is there an alternative, though many of the proxies will allow you to vote against the board members. That doesn't get any reform unless there is someone running against the management.

          Mutuals are a great idea, but in huge enterprises, they give even more power to the executives than the executives of the publicly-traded companies domiciled in Delaware have. Sometimes the mutual looks like a family treats it as their own company. You can see that by the list of CEOs that State Farm has had:

          George J. Mecherle     1922–1937
          Raymond Mecherle     1937–1954
          Adlai Rust         1954–1970
          Edward B. Rust, Sr.     1970–1985
          Edward B. Rust, Jr.     1985–Present

          Adlai had been at State Farm since the beginning. He didn't need to be related. Junior was only 35 when he was elected.

          State Farm also has another problem: recruitment. Bloomington, Illinois is not where most people in the country want to work.

          The GOP is the party of mammon. They mock what Jesus taught.

          by freelunch on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 03:40:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yep (0+ / 0-)

            There's presumably a very limited range of options, however I think that an abnormally large number of proxy requests together with a publicized campaign would probably be enough to compel State Farm to withdraw its support.  And a victory at the level of challenging a corporate board would give a lot more credence to shareholder campaigns at other companies.

            http://www.economicpopulist.org

            by ManfromMiddletown on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 04:24:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Unlike Northwestern Live (0+ / 0-)

              State Farm doesn't even let poliyholders know about their meetings.  A lot of mutuals went private so I wasn't even sure they were one.

              •  Demutualization (0+ / 0-)

                is truly one of the untold stories of how the insurance sector became the monster it is today. I honestly think that a re-mutualization order for firms offering health insurance would cut the amount of money that is channeled from the purpose of actually healing people to making someone a profit.

                http://www.economicpopulist.org

                by ManfromMiddletown on Sat Apr 14, 2012 at 11:14:33 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you - called and left complaint (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    phonegery, peacearena, Hector Solon
  •  I have two SF policies (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sylv, freelunch, artebella, allergywoman

    I'll be calling corporate and my agent. Will leave them if they don't leave ALEC.

    Oklahoma: birthplace of Kate Barnard, W. Rogers, W. Guthrie, Bill Moyers & Eliz. Warren. Home to proud progressive agitators since before statehood. Current political climate a mere passing dust cloud; we're waiting it out & planning for clearer days.

    by peacearena on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 03:00:47 PM PDT

    •  Yes, this will matter to your agent (0+ / 0-)

      Agents work on commission. Because they are captives, they cannot sell you a policy from a different company if you are unhappy with the company's policies. Agents can make a difference in Bloomington. Speak out.

      The GOP is the party of mammon. They mock what Jesus taught.

      by freelunch on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 03:41:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I also have 2 sf policies and will call on Monday. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hector Solon

      Both are due for renewal and I will gladly not renew if they don't leave ALEC.

      You don't get to keep democracy unless you fight for it.

      by artebella on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 08:19:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I called and had to leave a message. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hector Solon

    Hopefully it is a sign that they are getting a lot of calls.
    Will call my agent Monday.

    PS- Please suggest alternative companies. We have excellent driving records. Thanks!

    NEVER STOP READING BOOKS- Nothing else stirs the imagination or opens a mind to all possibilities.

    by Carla in Sequim on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 04:50:57 PM PDT

  •  I found that out years ago (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    allergywoman

    I moved to progressive online, and saved money as well.

    With Liberty and Justice for the 1%

    by wrights on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 06:11:37 PM PDT

  •  O'Reilly over on Fake News... (0+ / 0-)

    ... was o'really trying to make "heroes" out of State Farm and spinning is will be the "end of capitalism" if CoC isn't stopped. Shows they have no clue why all this is happening.

    Key is to get that first one to fall in a particular industry or sector. Then the irony enough is actually, the market will decide the fate of ALEC. Thanks for posting this.

    For the occasional reluctant tweet

    by Hector Solon on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 09:45:03 PM PDT

  •  David in NY and Peacearena are talking in the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bgblcklab1

    language that ALEC member companies understand, their bottom lines.  Having long term, low risk customers leave and taking that low underwriting risk somewhere else, and the significant profit that low risk represents, will move the management of SF in a way that simply talking won't.

    There is a movement among the anti-ALEC activists around the country to initiate shareholder actions to force company disclosure of political contributions and ALEC type activity as a means to improve the transparency of financial operations of companies to stakeholders, and it is generating positive results.

    If your insurance company is a mutual type, when you get your proxy, find out what you have to do to submit a resolution to dump ALEC membership and force the Board of Directors to come out, one way or the other on whether they support ALEC's activities.  Once you know that, you have had them define your decision criteria on whether you wish to remain their customer with your low risk profile.

    Make sure your new insurance company is not an ALEC member, and when you move, make sure they know why they got your business from State Farm, or some other ALEC member company, and by all means, when you go, send a letter to the president of the company you left exactly why you left.  A major study in the Quality Assurance business has shown that only 1 in 20 complaints by customers finds its way to senior management, because the other 19 get filtered.  Be that  5 per cent of complaints that find their way to the top.

    Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

    by Ohiodem1 on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 11:41:40 PM PDT

  •  Stop ALEC! (0+ / 0-)

    The organization called ALEC has actively fostered the spread of  "STAND YOUR GROUND" laws to many states. These are the very same laws that led to the Trayvon Martin murder in Florida....laws that “allow” vigilantes to be judge-jury-and-executioner.  We need to bring some good out of this terrible tragedy. We need to prevent MORE of these senseless killings. Some mainstream corporations have funded ALEC. BUT... as their funding has been publicized, they have withdrawn their support. Call or write or email the following two ALEC supporters: JOHNSON and JOHNSON, & STATE FARM insurance ....or.. visit www.pfaw.org/ditchALEC. Please urge these two companies to their cut ties with ALEC. Tell them that they should not want their brands associated with the dangerous laws ALEC promotes -- including voter suppression, NRA-backed “stand your ground” laws, extreme racial profiling laws targeting immigrants, privatizing public education and protecting corporate polluters. If you do not want YOUR hard earned money to be used AGAINST your best interests, then Stand YOUR Ground and tell State Farm & Johnson and Johnson, in no uncertain terms: DON’T FUND ALEC!

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