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With Governor's signature new "Street Gang Rico" law would become first-of-its-kind to target organized gang activity    Cook ...
WASHINGTON, DC -- Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chair Marcia L. Fudge  released the following statement on ...
Leaders want roots of corruption cut   By Chinta Strausberg   While the political heat escalated after the court-ordered ...
Letter signed by officers Wade Henderson and Marc Morial: The Honorable Steve Scalise United States House ...

Archive for September 20th, 2016

Federal Judge Certifies Class Action Against State Farm in $7.6 Billion+ “Dark Money” Action

Posted by Admin On September - 20 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

From: Clifford Law Firm

An Illinois federal judge late Friday (Sept. 16, 2016) granted class certification to plaintiffs representing 4.7 million State Farm policyholders involved in a complex Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”) regarding an alleged scheme involving campaign contributions being poured into an Illinois Supreme Court justice’s race to influence the reversal of a $1.05 billion decision.  If successful, that could result in a more than $7.6 billion payout from State Farm for the class given the interest that has accrued.

This case alleges violations of the “RICO” against State Farm and related defendants who allegedly “perpetrat[ed] a scheme through an enterprise specifically designed to defraud Plaintiffs and Class out of a $1.05 billion judgment,” according to the complaint.  That “scheme” allegedly involved the defendants orchestrating a “dark money” network of campaign contributions to the campaign committee of Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier for the Illinois Supreme Court who would be sympathetic to State Farm’s position in the $1.05 billion class action, and then misleading and lying to the Court about its clandestine and sizeable involvement in contributions to Karmeier’s contested election.

“Dark money” is campaign contributions that are run through political action committees (PACs) so that the actual source of its distribution is muddied.  Here, it is alleged that State Farm contributed millions to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that then sent the money back to PACs and the Illinois Republican Party for use in Karmeier’s campaign.

Karmeier’s contested election for an open downstate seat on the Illinois Supreme Court for the November, 2004 election was one of the highest in history for a judicial election and his recruitment for the position involved someone “who would support State Farm once its appeal came before the [Illinois Supreme] Court for disposition,” according to pleadings. The underlying case involves a class action filed in 1997 that led to a $1.05 billion verdict that was upheld by the appellate court.  But when it ultimately was decided by the Illinois Supreme Court more than two years following oral arguments before the Court that Karmeier never heard, by then Karmeier had been elected and had taken the bench and decided to participate in the Court’s decision, with Karmeier admitting he cast the deciding vote.

The defendants in the RICO certified class action are State Farm; Edward Murnane, President of the Illinois Civil Justice League (ICJL); and William G. Shepherd, employee/lobbyist of State Farm and ICJL Executive Committee Member.  Karmeier’s election committee, now long disbanded, remains associated in the enterprise, according to the pleadings.

Friday’s decision certifying the class brings this case one step closer to a jury trial to determine the damages suffered by the class that consists of 4.7 million State Farm policyholders who made a claim for vehicle repairs pursuant to their policies from 1987-1998.  These claims were litigated in the Avery v. State Farm case and involved damages to cars that were repaired with non-factory authorized and/or non-Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts when they were led to believe that they were factory authorized, as their policies provided.

The claimed misleading comments and lies by State Farm representatives to the Illinois Supreme Court and the damages they caused are now the subject of the RICO class action after plaintiffs hired a former FBI agent who uncovered the alleged “dark money” ties of State Farm to Karmeier’s campaign in his bid for election to Illinois’ highest court.  Plaintiffs allege Karmeier’s participation in that case and his apparent lack of objectivity tainted the tribunal that resulted in the reversal by the Illinois Supreme Court.

Friday’s decision comes on the heels of an earlier decision by U.S. District Court Judge David R. Herndon who held in June that plaintiffs’ experts, including a judicial election expert as well as a forensic accounting expert who valued the case to now be worth $7.6 billion, could testify as expert witnesses during the expected trial of this matter.

“The Illinois Constitution clearly provides that four votes are required to reverse the decision of an appellate court.  In the absence of four votes, the Illinois Constitution provides that the decision of the appellate court stands, which in this matter would have resulted in affirming the $1.05 billion verdict,” said Robert A. Clifford, founder and senior partner of Clifford Law Offices in Chicago and co-lead counsel of the class action matter.  “The next step is that we will continue our preparations for trial of this matter on behalf of the millions of State Farm policy holders.”

In its 29-page written opinion issued Friday (Sept. 16, 2016), Judge Herndon said that in certifying the class, “the Court agrees with plaintiff that all questions of law and fact are common as to the putative class: did defendants act in concert over a period of time to select and elect Justice Karmeier and to fraudulently conceal the nature and the scope of their involvement to enable and defend his participation in Avery.”

The parties are expected to be before Judge Herndon Oct. 15 in St. Louis for a status on the case.

__________________

Case: Hale, Shadle and Loger on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, Edward Murnane and William G. Shepherd, No. 12-0660-DRH (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois).

For further information, contact Clifford Law Offices’ Communications Partner Pamela Sakowicz Menaker at 847-721-0909 or pammenaker@cliffordlaw.com.

www.CliffordLaw.com

NAACP Response to NCAA Canceling Championship Games in North Carolina

Posted by Admin On September - 20 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

BALTIMORE – NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks issued the following statement about the decision by the National Collegiate Athletic Association to cancel championship games in North Carolina due to discriminatory laws passed by the state legislature this year:

“The NAACP applauds the NCAA, its President, Dr. Mark Emmert, its Board of Directors and all of its member institutions, for taking this courageous step in support of the rights of transgender people all over this great nation.  Only through such bold action can we change the attitudes and actions of those who continue to be guided by fear and even hatred of those who seem to be different.  North Carolina’s enactment of House Bill 2 (“HB2”), and its unabashed protection of those who discriminate against the LGBTQ community takes us back to a very dark time in our nation’s history, when de jure segregation and discrimination were the norm.  The NCAA’s laudable decision to put its considerable economic weight on the side of justice, humanity, inclusion and equality shows that measures such as HB2 ultimately cannot stand. The North Carolina legislature could have chosen to allow municipalities to lead the way in improving civil rights and labor protections within the state, it instead chose to handcuff all of its municipalities and to ensure that the least progressive thinking on these issues determines the rights of all North Carolinians and all persons visiting the state. 

North Carolina’s HB2 is an affront to everything the NAACP stands for. It overturned more than a dozen local ordinances and preempts cities in North Carolina from:

  1. Creating a higher minimum wage and improved working conditions,
  2. Enacting stronger workplace anti-discrimination laws, and
  3. Ensuring fair and equal access to public accommodations.  

Just as with the NCAA’s decision in 2001 not to hold championships in states that fly the Confederate flag over their capitols, this week’s decision by the NCAA again shows its moral courage and leadership.  We join the NCAA and those states that have banned official travel to North Carolina and call for the repeal of North Carolina’s retrogressive and reprehensible HB2.”

Photo: NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks 

Marquette Park’s Inner-City Muslim Action Network Director Named to Obama Administration Post

Posted by Admin On September - 20 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) Executive Director, Dr. Rami Nashashibi, has been appointed to serve as a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. This appointment is a direct result of the collective grassroots work that IMAN has been doing for nearly 20 years in the Marquette Park community on Chicago’s South Side.

In the heart of some of Chicago’s most challenged communities, IMAN has grown into a dynamic, nationally recognized model built with alliances across ethnic, socioeconomic and religious lines. Dr. Nashashibi’s participation on the council can bring additional attention to IMAN’s model and, more importantly, to the causes and issues that the organization champions.

Respiratory Cases are Being Monitored At Illinois Veterans’ Home In LaSalle

Posted by Admin On September - 20 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

LaSalle – The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) are actively monitoring residents at the Veterans’ Home in LaSalle in light of recent cases of respiratory illness. Over the past several months, three people in LaSalle County, including one Home resident, have tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease, a type of pneumonia. The other two cases did not have contact with the Home. Approximately 300 cases of Legionnaires’ disease were reported across Illinois last year.

There has been a heightened awareness in the veterans’ community about pneumonia and Legionnaires’ disease, which has led to more testing for the bacteria. Currently, 14 residents of the Home have become ill with respiratory illness, 11 of whom have been diagnosed with pneumonia. One of the residents who had pneumonia and suffered from underlying health conditions also tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease. The elderly resident has since passed away. At least seven of the 11 pneumonia cases have tested negative for Legionnaires’ disease and test results for the other residents are pending.

“We are very concerned about our residents and staff at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home and we are continuing to implement every necessary precaution to ensure the health and safety of all. That is our top priority,” said IDVA Assistant Director Harry Sawyer.

As a precaution, IDPH and IDVA are doubling efforts at the Home. The Home is installing water filtering shower heads, is removing faucet aerators, and has taken ice-machines off-line for cleaning. Environmental health officials are reviewing logs showing incoming water quality as well as site plans to identify where the ill residents are located. A water management team has been operating at the Home for the past six months using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention toolkit to address Legionella bacteria, which includes flushing water pipes, monitoring the water temperature, and ensuring appropriate chlorine levels.

“IDPH is working with IDVA and local health officials to quickly identify any residents with respiratory illness to make sure they receive immediate medical care,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. “IDPH will continue to work with its state and local partners to try to identify potential sources of the Legionella bacteria and prevent future illnesses.”

Legionella bacteria grow in areas of warm water and are often present in water supplies. The goal of our efforts is to reduce concentrations of the bacteria to a level that protects the health of residents and staff. In order to be infected with the bacteria, a person must inhale contaminated water mist. Legionnaires’ disease is not typically transmitted person-to-person. Common water sources include decorative fountains, hot tubs, shower areas, and cooling towers. Generally Legionella bacteria do not cause harm, but the bacteria pose a larger threat to those with compromised immune systems and the elderly.

IDVA and IDPH will continue to work with the LaSalle County Health Department and other health officials to protect the health of residents and staff.

Madigan: Illinois Homeowners Received More Than Double the Expected Relief in Bank of America Settlement

Posted by Admin On September - 20 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Settlement Reached by Attorney General Madigan Over Bank’s Misconduct Has Provided $440 Million in Relief, including $240 Million in Homeowner PrincipalReductions, Loan Modifications & Loans to First Time Buyers

 

CHICAGO, IL – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced that Illinois homeowners have received $240 million in relief under a settlement with Bank of America as a result of the bank’s misconduct in its marketing and sale of risky residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) leading up to the 2008 economic collapse.

 

The relief is part of a national settlement reached by Madigan, the U.S. Department of Justice, and attorneys general from California, Delaware, Massachusetts, New York and Kentucky. Madigan’s settlement for Illinois has provided more than double the $100 million in consumer relief required and included an additional $200 million for the state’s pension systems that sustained losses from RMBS investments as a result of the economic crisis.

 

Under the settlement, over 5,200 Illinois homeowners have received $240 million in relief, including nearly 400 homeowners who received an average of $147,000 each in principal reductions on their home loans. The relief also provided forgiveness for previous and current forbearances, junior lien forgiveness and loans to first-time low to moderate income homebuyers.

 

“This settlement has provided millions of dollars in significant, direct relief to thousands of homeowners across the state who were harmed by Bank of America’s misconduct that contributed to the economic crisis,” Madigan said.

 

The settlement stemmed from an investigation by Madigan’s office which revealed that between 2006 and 2008 Bank of America failed to disclose the true risk of RMBS investments to Illinois’ pension systems and therefore misled the systems when they invested in the RMBS market.

 

It is among several settlements that Madigan has secured as part of her work on the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group under President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. Madigan has reached similar agreements with JPMorgan Chase & Company, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.

 

The settlement is also the latest action against Bank of America and Countrywide for misconduct that led to the economic collapse.

 

In 2008, Madigan filed an historic lawsuit against Countrywide that led to an $8.7 billion national settlement for deceptively placing thousands of Illinois homeowners into ultra-risky and unaffordable subprime mortgages. Madigan’s settlement established the nation’s first mandatory mortgage modification program.

 

Two years later, in 2010, Madigan again filed suit against Countrywide and Bank of America for illegally targeting African American and Latino borrowers for sales of the lender’s poorest quality and most expensive mortgages during the height of the subprime mortgage lending spree. The lawsuit led to a $335 million national settlement reached by Madigan and DOJ that provided restitution to harmed Illinois borrowers and represented the largest settlement of a fair lending lawsuit ever obtained by a state attorney general. In addition, Madigan and DOJ secured a $175 million national settlement with Wells Fargo to resolve similar fair lending allegations.

 

As a result of all of the enforcement actions that Attorney General Madigan has taken against the perpetrators of the economic collapse, she has recovered over $3 billion for Illinois consumers, communities, pension funds and county recorders.

 

 

Kirk to Hold September 21st Hearing to Examine Iran Cash-for-Hostages Links to Terror Financing

Posted by Admin On September - 20 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on National Security and International Trade and Finance, announced an oversight hearing on the terror financing dangers of the Administration’s three airlift payments to the Iranian regime totaling $1.7 billion in difficult-to-trace foreign cash as part of a quid pro quo for the January 2016 release of American hostages.

 

The hearing will be held tomorrow, September 21st, at 10:30 a.m. The Senate Banking Subcommittee has oversight of the Treasury Department, Iran sanctions laws, and terrorist financing.

 

“Americans deserve to know if any U.S. taxpayer money is ending up in the hands of Iranian-backed terrorists,” Senator Kirk said.  “This hearing will bring transparency to the $1.7 million foreign cash payment sent to Iran for the release of American hostages.”

Confirmed witnesses are:  The Honorable Michael B. Mukasey, Former Attorney General of the United States; and The Honorable Eric S. Edelman, Counselor, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Co-Chair, Iran Task Force at JINSA Gemunder Center, and Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; and Ms. Suzanne Maloney, Deputy Director, Foreign Policy, and Senior Fellow, Center for Middle East Policy, Energy Security and Climate Initiative, The Brookings Institute.

HotHouse at the Alhambra Global Voices Series Launches Sunday with Concert to End Gun Violence

Posted by Admin On September - 20 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Duo Do Brasil opens Global Voices Series with virtuoso guitar duet concert  

 

CHICAGO, IL – This Sunday, HotHouse launches its Global Voices Series with a matinée concert by Duo Violão Brasil – a stunning duet of guitar virtuosos living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

 

Duo Violão Brasil is the result of guitarists Rogério Souza and Edinho Gerber’s reverence for Brazilian guitar, the “violão”, and their desire to explore and expand the musical possibilities of putting two “violões” together.  On September 25th, the duo will put on a special performance featuring special guest appearances and lively arrangements of Samba and Choro repertoire from composers like Baden Powell, Pixinguinha, and Radames Gnattali, while showcasing the exuberance and lyricism of Brazilian guitar. Come and be transported to Rio by this uniquely carioca night of music.

 

HotHouse is pleased to participate with this concert in the Concert Across America to End Gun Violence – anationwide day of organizing music to protest gun violence in the U.S. The mission of the “Concert Across America” is to remember the tremendous loss of life that gun violence has cost our communities. And while it’s primarily a day of awareness, local organizers can choose to fundraise for a designated local gun violence prevention (GVP) partner or for a local domestic violence shelter as one of its goals.

 

As long-time cultural promoters who work in the realm of social justice, HotHouse seizes opportunities to utilize its purview as an arts leader to amplify organizing opportunities. In Chicago, where the city is in the grips of a pandemic of violence, this concert hopes to bring urgency to everyday pleasures- like concert going. HotHouse is proud to open this Global Voices Series -which parenthetically serves to abate Anti-Muslim sentiments -with this powerful national movement against violence and towards peaceful dialogue, including international cultural exchange.

 

Duo Violão Brasil

Sunday, September 25. 4pm $20

Alhambra Palace Restaurant

1240 W. Randolph Chicago

Valet parking

Wheelchair accessible

 

 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Rogério Souza

A master of both 6 and 7 string guitars, Rogério Souza is one of the foremost representatives of the musical language from Rio de Janeiro.  Rogério is constantly performing in and producing concerts and events that showcase traditional Brazilian music, especially Samba and Choro.  He has worked with a multitude of world class Brazilian Musicians as musical director and producer for concerts, TV shows, CDs, and DVDs. Some of these artists include: Baden Powell, Paulinho da Viola, Sivuca, Ney Matogrosso, Altamiro Carrilho, João Bosco, Paulo Moura, Ivan Lins, Guinga, Turíbio Santos, Rafael Rabello, Cristovão Bastos, Nó em Pingo D’agua, Época de Ouro, Elizeth Cardoso, Elza Soares, João Nogueira, Dona Ivone Lara, Nelson Cavaquinho, Guilherme de Brito, Delcio Carvalho, Martinho da Vila, and Zeca Pagodinho.

 

 

Rogério performs regularly in music festivals, concerts, and workshops throughout Latin America, Europe, the United States, and Asia. His current show focuses on the art of Brazilian guitar and includes original works as well as classic repertoire.  Along with performing, Rogério frequently gives masterclasses and workshops that focus on guitar styles and cover material from his latests books and CDs.

 

 

Edinho Gerber

Son of a Brazilian mother and American father, guitarist and composer Edinho Gerber possesses a rich musical vocabulary developed in the two countries where he was raised: the United States and Brazil. Navigating effortlessly between the genres of choro, jazz, samba, and blues, he is always in search of the intersection points within his dual cultural identity.  A staple in the Chicago music scene for many years, he was a highly in demand sideman having played with countless U.S. based Brazilian groups, including Som Brasil, Renato Anesi Trio, A Cor do Brasil, and led the samba-jazz group Zona Sul. He has performed in prestigious festivals and concerts in throughout the United States, Russia, and Japan, and currently resides in Rio de Janeiro where he performs regularly with Duo Violão Brasil and is preparing for the upcoming releases of his debut solo album and of an inventive new cross cultural collaboration with Ben Lamar.

 

ABOUT ALHAMBRA

 

Intrigued by the history and art of Alhambra, the eponymous palace and cultural mecca of southern Spain’s Moorish Granada, Chicago physician Nasar Rustom created the space to bring the culture, art, and splendor of Alhambra to the City of Chicago. Dr. Rustom commissioned artisans from Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Morocco to recreate the Moorish style of art for the hand-carved wood furniture, sculptures, rugs, stone mosaics, arabesques, and crystal chandeliers that adorn the space, augmented by a large collection of artifacts assembled over the course of many trips to the Middle East and North Africa. Since opening in 2007, Alhambra Palace has offered its visitors a unique experience of fine dining and entertainment, ranging from Middle Eastern singers to Latin salsa and tango.

 

ABOUT HOTHOUSE

 

HotHouse was founded in 1987 as a Chicago forum for global artistic expression — with a special focus on under-represented multi-arts and educational activities that showcase innovative artists working in the margins of the commercial market. Outreach to underserved populations across metro Chicago is a key priority, along with producing events that amplify a variety of progressive social movements. The New York Times wrote of HotHouse, “Few clubs anywhere offer a wider range of first-rate world music, from wildly vibrant Afro-pop to avant-garde jazz than HotHouse.” And a “Best of Chicago” award opined, “From European avant-garde jazz acts that don’t even play in this hemisphere to performance art to world music to the city’s more esoteric acts, [HotHouse] has consistently pulled in some of the planet’s most innovative acts.” The project broke ground in the city in a range of endeavors, from showcasing Cuban artists at the height of the blockade to serving as a forum for groundbreaking Avant garde jazz artists.

 

HotHouse has maintained two award-winning cultural centers, with the first catalyzing Wicker Park’s cultural offerings (1987-1995) and the second spurring creative development in Chicago’s South Loop (1995-2007). The board of directors is currently pursuing plans to build its third site.

 

 

Chicago Lands Top Spot in Ranking of Best Cities for Cycling

Posted by Admin On September - 20 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS


Exciting new infrastructure combined with growing ridership and a strong voice for advocacy has made Chicago a biking mecca. CHICAGO, IL — Chicago has taken first place among best US cities for bicycling, moving up from #2 since Bicycling Magazine’s last national ranking two years ago, it was announced.

 

The ranking recognizes that Chicago has become a national leader for bicycling thanks to a flood of newly minted riders and bold new projects like the 606 rail trail and a rapidly growing bike sharing system.

 

Particularly transformative has been the effort since 2011 to build a network of low-stress bike routes in Chicago. This included construction of 23 miles of protected bike lanes and more than 80 miles of buffered (wide) bike lanes. And over the next three years the city will add 50 more miles of these types of bike lanes.

 

“It’s wonderful to get recognized for the great strides bicycling has taken here in recent years,” said Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance, a nonprofit group that works for better biking, walking and transit throughout Chicagoland. “We’ve come a long way and it’s taken lots of work.”

Another recent triumph for Chicago is the announcement of separate biking and walking paths coming to the Chicago Lakefront Trail — a plan that Active Trans has been lobbying for several years.

 

These and other developments would not have happened without a highly engaged advocacy community, an enthusiastic department of transportation and a keenly supportive mayor. Credit also goes to a vibrant local biking culture comprised of bike clubs, online communities and blogs, nonprofit organizations, racing teams and grassroots groups.

 

During its three decades of working for a bike friendly region, Active Trans has played a role in every major step toward making the city safer and more welcoming to people biking. “Five years ago, a lot of people thought Active Trans was asking for the moon and stars when we called for a network of barrier-protected bike lanes and launching a bike sharing program,” said Burke. “But those ideas — like so many others we have promoted — have caught on and have since come to fruition.”

 

While this is a perfect moment for everyone involved to take a bow, it’s also a good time to acknowledge the extensive work that still needs to be done. Active Trans believes that Chicagoans of all ages and abilities should have easy access to safe and comfortable bikes routes that take them where they need to go. Last fall, we laid out our Bikeways for All vision that identifies priority streets for protected bike lanes, neighborhood greenways and urban trails.

 

Another important initiative that will dramatically improve bicycling in Chicago is Vision Zero, an international movement that works to greatly reduce and ultimately eliminate serious traffic injuries and fatalities. This fall, the City of Chicago plans to release a Vision Zero action plan, which Active Trans has been calling for the city to develop for several years. The three-year Vision Zero action plan will set forth the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2026.

 

The Active Transportation Alliance is a nonprofit, member-based advocacy organization that advocates for walking, bicycling and public transit to create healthy, sustainable and equitable communities. The organization works to build a movement around active transportation, encourage physical activity, increase safety and build a world-class transportation network. The Active Transportation Alliance is supported by more than 7,000 members and 1,000 volunteers. For more information about the Active Transportation Alliance, visit www.activetrans.org or call 312.427.3325.

 

Illinois State Treasurer Frerichs Calls on Kemper To Detail Plans to Pay Life Insurance Policies

Posted by Admin On September - 20 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Kemper Declares ‘Voluntary’ Review Despite Opposition to Law that Now Requires its Compliance

 

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs today called on Kemper to detail its plan for “implementing enhancements to its life insurance claims procedures.”

Kemper this week announced it will change how it uses the Death Master File List (DMF) to match unpaid life insurance policies with deceased customers. Kemper said it “is voluntarily undertaking a comprehensive process under which it will cross-reference its life insurance policies against the Social Security Death Master File and other databases to identify potential situations where beneficiaries may not have filed a claim following the death of a loved one, and then begin an outreach process to find beneficiaries and pay claims.”

“It appears Kemper wants to treat its customers with dignity. Let’s see the details so Kemper’s customers and investors as well as regulators and the public at-large can judge for themselves,” Frerichs said. “This is the same company that devoted significant corporate resources to defeat legislation and filed lawsuits against laws that require them to do the very same thing for which they are now patting themselves on the back.”

 

“Kemper cannot use the word ‘voluntarily’ when the law requires them to act responsibly and while they are suing the state to block such laws,” Frerichs said.

 

Kemper has continued to spend considerable resources on lawyers, lobbyists, and litigation to address what it refers to as “reputational exposure.” Kemper’s opposition was highlighted in a February 2016 article in the Wall Street Journal and an April 2016 segment on CBS’ 60 Minutes. In the 60 Minutes segment, Kemper was singled out for “fighting tooth and nail” against efforts to identify and pay unclaimed life insurance benefits.

Three insurance companies under Kemper’s umbrella are suing Frerichs to block the state treasurer’s request to allow independent auditors to confirm that the Chicago-based insurer is complying with Illinois’ unclaimed property law. Kemper seeks to block the audit, saying “life insurers such as (Kemper) have no affirmative obligation to take any steps to determine that an insured has died and/or that benefits are payable…” and that they “do not want to … adopt a practice where (Kemper has) an affirmative obligation to identify deceased insureds and escheat policy proceeds five years after the date of a death reported on the DMF.” (Kemper Illinois Complaint pp 9, 20). Kemper also has filed lawsuits against Kentucky, Maryland, Florida, California and Pennsylvania in attempts to stop audits or state laws.

 

In August, the Governor signed into law Frerichs’ legislation requiring life insurance companies to use the Death Master File (DMF) list to determine if a policy holder has died and the death benefits have not been paid. Kemper was the only opponent to this legislation. The Social Security Administration manages the list to make sure recipients are alive and to prevent waste, fraud and abuse in the social security program. Legislation similar to Illinois’ Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act was signed into law earlier this year in Florida and West Virginia after passing the respective legislatures with overwhelming bi-partisan majorities. The Florida law passed unanimously and was championed by the elected Chief Financial Officer, a Republican. The West Virginia law was championed by the Democratic state treasurer. New York passed the first law to require DMF matching by life insurance companies in 2011.

 

Previously, Kemper stated in federal filings that submitting to such audits and state laws would impair its profit margins.

 

Among the questions that Kemper needs to answer:

 

Will Kemper drop its lawsuits against Illinois, Maryland, Florida, California and Pennsylvania now that it has agreed to “voluntarily” use the DMF?

 

Will Kemper allow auditors representing Frerichs, as well as Treasurers and Insurance Commissioners across the country, to examine Kemper’s records to ensure compliance with state laws?

 

When will this voluntary review begin and how long will it take?

 

Once an unpaid policy is found, how long will it take to pay the family?

 

Which policies will be covered?

 

Will this new approach include policies that have lapsed, especially cases where the policy was in-force when the insured died?

 

What does “evaluate our policies on a regular basis” mean?

What will constitute a “match” with the DMF? Will Kemper use the standards developed by the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) or the standards used by other life insurance companies representing more than 70 percent of the market that have voluntarily settled with Treasurers? Or will Kemper use its own standards designed to minimize the number of “matches” that it will “voluntarily” follow up on?

 

Kemper declares: “We’ve been seeking consensus within the regulatory community on how best to approach the process. We are not willing to wait longer, so we are forging ahead.” What was Kemper waiting for? What consensus has yet to be obtained?

 

Kemper’s lawsuit prohibits Frerichs and his office from asking these questions directly.

 

 

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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