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Jun 19, 2003

CONTACT: Carmen Balber - 310-392-0522 x324

83% Favor 3 Strikes Law For Corporate Criminals

Proposal Answers Public Call To Crack Down On Corporate Crooks
Santa Monica -- 83% of surveyed San Diegans feel that California should implement the three strikes law for corporate criminals, said a poll conducted by SurveyUSA and released today by consumer advocates. (Read the poll results.) SB 335, sponsored by Los Angeles Senator Gloria Romero, would have banned repeat corporate criminals from doing business in California but was defeated in committee.

"The politicians who voted to treat corporate felons better than individual criminals are out of touch with the average Californian, who is demanding corporations be held accountable for their crimes," said Carmen Balber, consumer advocate with the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR), the sponsors of SB 335. "83% of Californians can't be wrong: Current law doesn't do enough to deal with corporate crooks."

SB 335 would have banned corporations from doing business in California if they are convicted of three or more felony crimes within a ten-year period. It would revoke the charter of a California corporation convicted of three strikes, or revoke the certificate of qualification to do business in California for out-of-state corporations. The proposal would also require corporations to advertise strike convictions in the state's largest newspapers, and publicly disclose their felony convictions on a state website.

The news poll, commissioned by KGTV 10 in San Diego and conducted last week, found that support for applying California's three strikes law to corporate crime was above 80% across every (adult) demographic. 75% of respondents also indicated that the laws currently protecting the privacy of individuals' personal and financial information are not strict enough.

"Two years after Enron the wave of corporate crime isn't even slowing down, and it won't until someone takes a strong stand to end it. 'Three Strikes And You're Out' for corporations will give California the tool we need to prevent corporate crime," said Balber.

Another corporation was convicted of a "strike" on Friday, when a Menlo Park manufacturer of medical devices pleaded guilty to 10 felonies including making false statements to the government and mislabeling its products. The company, a subsidiary of Guidant Corp., covered up incidents in which a product meant to strengthen patients' aorta malfunctioned while being inserted in one third of all cases. An investor lawsuit filed against the company alleges that the product contributed to at least 12 patient deaths and 57 emergency room visits.

SB 335 was killed by Senators Bowen and Speier on June 4 when they joined the Republicans to oppose it in a Senate Appropriations committee hearing. Senator Machado did not vote on the bill, but had voted "aye" at a previous hearing. The bill's author has vowed to bring the proposal back.

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