Tuesday, January 25, 2005

While I know it is good to have a person who is familiar with an industry serve as the government's chief overseer in that area, but isn't this taking it just a bit too far? Terry Ganey has a piece in the Post-Dispatch today looking at Blunt's appointment process.
Blunt gets industry input in choosing agency heads JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Matt Blunt, who has said he wants to make Missouri more business friendly, is using industry representatives to help pick the state officials who will regulate the industries' operations.

Dale Finke, Blunt's nominee to run the Department of Insurance, was one of three names submitted to Blunt by a five-member committee of insurance company executives, lobbyists and representatives of the medical profession.

Blunt declined Monday to name the industry insiders who are helping him pick his Cabinet. Blunt said those decisions were personnel matters that are confidential under the state's Sunshine law.
So not only are the industries who will be affected by government oversight picking the officials who head the departments, Blunt refuses to disclose who is vetting these individuals.

Of course, since Blunt set up the vetting process he doesn't have to abide by their recommendations.
One member of the committee that recommended Finke's name to Blunt said interest groups have always sought input in the process.
"I didn't see anything wrong with it at all," said Tom Holloway, a lobbyist for the Missouri Medical Association, whose members helped fund Blunt's campaign last year. "I wouldn't call it a screening process. There was nothing binding. We made recommendations, and the governor was free to pay attention to them or to ignore them."
Blunt's assertion begs the question: what is the point in appointing the committees in the first place if their recommendations would be tossed aside?
And Finke said he did not see a problem regulating insurance after having been an agent.

"Most insurance agents operate for the benefit of the policy holder," Finke said.
What should also raise some questions is Finke's apparent belief that businesses' operate not for their own benefit, but for the benefit of their customers.

In a billion dollar industry such as insurance, I doubt that there are many corporate officers who have as pro-customer point of view as Finke does.

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