Constituents question influence of contributions

Monday, May 5th 2008, 6:16 pm
By: News 9

By Amy Lester, NEWS 9

A group of voters voiced their concerns Monday after discovering Rep. Ron Peterson (R-Broken Arrow) accepted money from the insurance industry.

Peterson has opposed health care mandates that force insurance companies to provide more coverage, and came under heat for his voting patterns. The representative insisted his votes had nothing to do with the contributions he received from the insurance industry.

"I have not been influenced by money ever in how I determine public policy," Peterson said. "It's just not the way it's done."

Parents and supporters of Nick's Law, who met at the Capitol Monday, met their first roadblock when Peterson refused to hear the bill during a committee meeting.

If passed, Nick's Law would force insurance companies to cover autism treatments.

According to Peterson's records, more than $64,000, which equates to at least 25 percent of his total campaign contributions, is from Political Action Committees or people tied to the insurance industry.

Peterson, who has worked as an insurance agent, said about a quarter of all Oklahomans are uninsured and believes health care mandates like Nick's Law will raise insurance rates. He said some Oklahomans could choose to go without health insurance if it become too expensive.

"This policy, if it were enacted, would make our situation worse," Peterson said. "Is that good public policy?"

Supporters of Nick's Law, said they're concerned with the contributions, and believe the money could be tainting the thought process of lawmakers.