SEAN SHAW… for which people?!

Sean Shaw, a Democrat from Tampa and Florida’s former Insurance Consumer Advocate (ICA) now favored to win the District 61 house seat (See Note #1 below), appears to have completely sold out.

True. His leanings were never much in question. Even as the ICA he pushed for free access to “Citizens”, meaningless sound-bite regulations like Insurer Report Cards and subsidies over sound premiums. The Charlie Crist Plan.

Occasionally dispensation is due statewide advocates representing inland policyholders and wealthy coastal homeowners simultaneously.

But, not anymore. Not for Shaw.

He seeks to represent the voters in District 61 which encompasses only a piece of Hillsborough County; and nowhere else. I was born and raised in Hillsborough County.  Take my word for it, it’s nowhere near the  southeast coastal  residents whose mansions contribute so much to Citizen’s overexposure.

In fact, only 19% of Shaw’s would-be constituents are in Citizens. But…100% of them pay Citizens assessments.  And…from fake sinkholes to market-sapping rate freezes, Shaw has consistently argued positions that keep assessments, for everyone, especially those in district 61, way up.

Of course, he has other allegiances.

Shaw resigned his ICA post to work for one of Florida’s leading lawsuit mills, The Merlin Law Group. In so doing he joined hands with Chip Merlin a founder of the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (FAPIA).

Now, he carries membership cards with all the big public adjuster (PA) groups: NAPIA, FAPIA and AAPIA. Consider AAPIA’s recent endorsement and “Call to Action” raising money for his campaign. Consider his list of contributors which reads like the “Who’s Who” of trial lawyers and PA’s.

He’s in so deep he refused to endorse even a small reduction in America’s highest PA fee cap. (See NOTE #2 below). 

His refusal to help lower the fee (which directly benefited FAPIA members) was in spite of other PA groups (NAPIA & CPCPI) and at least one of his primary opponents supporting the modest reduction. (Learn more here).  

You tell me. Who was Shaw helping? Consumers in District 61 or public adjusters, 85% of which are in Southeast Florida?

His firm fund-raised for the legislature’s only PA, Representative Frank Artilles (R-Miami) and now, ignoring appearances, Shaw declares PA’s to be  “… those that help people…when they need help standing up to the big, bad insurance companies…”

A week or so back Shaw released a video calling public adjusters to a “Special Meeting” of FAPIA. Why? To talk about his campaign and to discuss the 2015 legislative session,  to learn… “What we can do legislatively to make sure insurance companies don’t end all of our careers…” and to “Talk about how I’m gonna help FAPIA…”.

You can view for yourself here, assuming the link remains operable.

Then there’s Policyholders of Florida (POF) which both Shaw and Merlin polish like gold bullion. Another trial lawyer trick.  They claim it’s 8 million strong. But, it has no consumers to speak of and certainly none paying dues or making decisions.

POF’s website doesn’t appear to have a board to govern or promote issues and when I checked…The Division of Corporations showed it to be a “for profit” venture run by Chip Merlin.   Apparently POF is just a facade so Shaw can tell voters and the media he heads a consumer group instead of working for PA’s and lawyers.

Nancy Smith with Sunshine State News, in her piece titled, “Anybody but Sean Shaw”, talks about Shaw’s employer and other firms that get “fat off a practice called “hammering” — that’s twisting the arms of insurance companies into agreeing to large settlements.”

“Ultimately” she added “Shaw’s sole motivation is not to protect the consumer but to appease his political benefactors and to ensure that costly, and profitable, litigation continues. ”

Now, he’s rewarded with an appointment to the board of The Florida Justice Association (formerly the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers)?

In a number of my previous blogs, “License to Steal” and  “Lawyer’s and Money–more than meets the eye!”, public documents proved that Shaw’s employer, Merlin Law, was one of the premier Citizens sinkhole firms in Florida, making a killing “hammering” insurer’s over driveway cracks–again, to the detriment of district 61 voters.

And, lest there be any doubt.  Who can ignore the symmetry of this latest announcement?

Shaw’s recent endorsement from Florida’s premier “hammering” firm,  Morgan & Morgan.  Delivered COD by Charlie Crist who, like Shaw, is… “For the People!”

Unfortunately, by putting public adjusters and trial lawyers first, far too few of the  people Sean Shaw is “for”  actually live in District 61.

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NOTE #1: The District 61 house seat is solely within Hillsborough County and is currently held by Representative Betty Reed, a term limited Democrat.

NOTE #2: Fourteen states cap PA fees. Florida’s cap is 20% for non-catastrophic claims, the highest of the fourteen. Usually the result of a Florida-like climate (political, legal or environmental), these states are a mixed bag of PA regulations–some  don’t license public adjusters, some label the enterprise itself as the unauthorized practice of law and at least one declares PA fee’s based on a percentage of the claim amount to be “against public policy.”

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