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Jun 04, 2003

CONTACT: Doug Heller - 310-392-0522 x309

Senators Bowen and Speier Go Soft on Corporate Crime; "Wanted for Corporateering" Posters To Be Placed On Website

Democrats Kill Corporate Three Strikes Bill; Author, Consumer Groups Will Fight Again
Sacramento -- A proposal that would have barred any corporation with three felony convictions from doing business in California was defeated today when Democratic Senators Bowen and Speier* joined with Republican lawmakers to stop the bill in Senate Appropriations Committee. SB 335 (Romero -- Los Angeles), known as the Corporate Three Strikes Act, is considered the nation's toughest corporate reform proposal by consumer advocates.

Both Senators Bowen and Speier said the bill went too far, but Romero agreed to take the bill up again next year.

"Any politician who believes that convicted corporate felons should not have the same responsibility to society as other three time felons is out of touch with the public's anger over the lack of corporate accountability," said Jamie Court, author of Corporateering: How Corporate Power Steals Your Personal Freedom, who will be placing "Wanted" posters of the legislators at this afternoon and holding meetings with activists about a ballot initiative on the subject. "Senators Bowen and Speier put the interest of corporations over society, which is classic corporateering, a label that will haunt them and shows the need for new thinking in Sacramento."

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR), which sponsored the proposal, said SB 335 would have created a significant deterrent to corporate criminals, such as Tenet Healthcare, because repeat offenders would lose their right to do business in California if they received a third strike. FTCR noted that the victims of corporate crime often include patients, retirees who lose their pensions as a result of financial fraud and the environment.

"The politicians who killed corporate reform in California betrayed consumers, seniors, and our environment in order to protect corporate felons. This defeat show how deep the influence of big business runs in Sacramento," said FTCR consumer advocate Carmen Balber.

SB 335 proposed to revoke the charter of any corporation with three felony convictions in a ten-year period and stop out of state felons from doing business in California. It would make California the first state in the country to have a three strikes act for corporate crime -- putting the penalty for repeat corporate crooks on par with existing penalties for individual criminals. The proposal has the support of a broad coalition of labor, consumer, senior and environmental organizations.

* Senator Machado, who originally voted for SB 335, did not vote on the measure at today's hearing

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