As Texas neared the end of a decade-long legal fight over homeowners’ insurance rates with Farmers Insurance Group in December, the company’s employees PAC gave $50,000 to the gubernatorial campaign of Attorney General Greg Abbott — the top lawyer in the state’s case against the company.
The contribution took Abbott’s receipts in his race to succeed Texas Gov. Rick Perry to more than $75,000 since 2013 from the PAC of his courtroom opponent — a company the state alleged in a 2002 lawsuit had deceived and discriminated against Texas homeowners.
Critics of Abbott and of a still-in-dispute settlement the AG’s office offered Farmers that year under Abbott’s predecessor, John Cornyn, say that Abbott, as he has renewed the suit, has not fairly represented homeowners in Texas. They say those homeowners were charged too much by the company whose employees’ political arm has given generously to Abbott’s campaign.
For Farmers, “it was a sweetheart deal when it was struck in 2002, and it’s only gotten sweeter since then,” said Alex Winslow, executive director of the consumer advocacy group Texas Watch.
Abbott and his campaign, along with Farmers, contend that the settlement agreement is fair. Abbott’s campaign said he does not treat donors differently when it comes to applying the law and that accepting the campaign money is not a conflict of interest. Luis Sahagun, a Farmers spokesman, said no one was available to comment about the contributions on Monday.