Dave Jones is the Democratic candidate for Insurance Commissioner.

Dave Jones is running around California telling anyone who will listen that he is not taking campaign contributions from the insurance industry.

But whenever you hear a politician make a virtue out of who they are not taking campaign contributions from you should look at who they are taking contributions from.

And in the case of Mr. Jones the ones he is taking contributions from are the trial lawyers. You know the ones who make a living out of suing insurance companies.

It is not surprising that Mr. Jones is being heavily supported by the members of the plaintiff’s bar since Democrats in the Legislature like Jones have for years passed laws and regulations that provide fertile ground for lawsuits. For the trial lawyers the Legislature has been great at developing new markets for them to reap rewards at the expense of California businesses while driving up prices for consumers.

Here in California Jones has received close to a quarter of a million dollars from trial lawyers and one firm Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy has donated almost $75,000 all by its lonesome. On their website they list as one of their practice areas "Insurance". Nothing wrong with that but it would seem they would have a vested interest in who is the next Insurance Commissioner just as much if not more than an insurance company.

But in addition to California’s trial lawyers, there is a whole different group of lawyers who are the antithesis of trial lawyers supporting Jones. They held fundraising events for him in the Chicago area just a couple of weeks ago.

That would be The Goldwater Taplin Group. They have 12 offices nationwide but none in California. But this bunch of lawyers doesn’t sue insurance companies they represent them!

According to their website, "The Goldwater Taplin portfolio of services meets a broad range of legal, regulatory, and business needs across all sectors of the insurance industry."

And when it comes to taking the prize for brazen influence peddling they have no peer.

The bio for Goldwater Taplin CEO Norman Taplin reads in part, "Mr. Taplin is President of Taplin & Associates and Co-Founder of The Goldwater Taplin Group. He utilizes his 30 years experience as an insurance regulatory attorney to give his clients privileged access to the country’s insurance/regulatory decision-makers."

If Dave Jones is elected what kind of "privileged access" will Goldwater Taplin enjoy? Will they get an "all access pass" to the Insurance Commissioner’s office like those all access passes groupies covet at a rock concert?

My question is what is the difference between not taking money from insurance companies but taking money from their lawyers and advisors? Apparently none in Mr. Jones mind.

It don’t take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep and it looks to me that old wily Dave Jones is playing both sides of the legal street in his quest for higher office. It is comforting to know that if elected Jones will be an "equal access" Insurance Commissioner. I wonder if he has told his pals in the plaintiff’s bar that he is cozying up to their potential opponents?

But at least he is not taking money from insurance companies.

And as the old cowboy saying goes, "Keep a safe distance from skunks, lawyers and politicians".