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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Zapata: Don Brown "in pocket of insurance companies"



If you were listening to Jim DeFede's talk show on WINZ 940AM in Miami this morning, you got an earful of inner-GOP bickering on the most explosive of election issues: insurance. And Buzz can only agree with one legislator's reaction: Wow.

Saturday at Coral Gables High School, at one of incoming Speaker Marco Rubio's "idea raisers," Rep. Juan Zapata, R-Miami, told the audience "I think the Republican Party has failed you (on insurance)...We have been afraid."

But Zapata didn't stop there. He ended his remarks bashing Rep. Don Brown, R-DeFuniak Springs, an part-architect of this year's insurance legislation.

"I will tell you this much, on the record, and I hope he hears this: He is in the pocket of the insurance companies," Zapata said, then added he hoped Rubio, who wasn't present, wouldn't place him on insurance committees next legislative session.

DeFede played Zapata's comments on the show and then got Brown on the phone and played him the clip: "Wow. I didn't know Juan felt that way." Zapata wasn't on the show, though DeFede told the audience he'd tried to reach him. Rep. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, who described Zapata as a friend, was on the show.

Brown went on: "I can only tell you that, there is no question I have about 30 years experience as an insurance agent. I can just tell you in that 30 years on three different occasions that arbitrary decisions by insurance companies have almost bankrupt me and I would simply respond I am not a fan of insurance companies any more than any one else. But I do have a background and understanding of the industry that helps me navigate through a very complext issue. And if that offends Rep. Zapata simply because he doesn't have that kind of understanding, I'm sorry. I was elected to come to office and bring the talent I have and apply it to the difficult issues we face and that's what I do."

"I have made my living caring about consumers," Brown said, then stayed on the phone for several more comments and exchanges with Gelber.

To hear the show and Zapata's full comments, click here.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 3:15pm]


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