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Both Politico and now the Los Angeles Times report concerns about California’s state insurance commissioner who has stuck taxpayers with thousands of dollars in bills to cover the cost of renting an apartment in Sacramento while he maintains his primary residence in Los Angeles – a break from other statewide elected officials that is alarming ethics watchdogs.

And Lara’s decision to file for rental reimbursement breaks precedent with two previous insurance commissioners. Republican Steve Poizner, who is from the Bay Area, did not charge living expenses to the state during his tenure as insurance commissioner. Neither did Democrat Dave Jones, though he did not have to commute far as a Sacramento resident.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose main residence was in Southern California, lived at the Hyatt Regency while in Sacramento but had his expenses paid by an outside foundation. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a former San Francisco mayor, recently moved from the Bay Area to a Sacramento suburb with his family at his own expense.

The revelation could add another headache for Commissioner Ricardo Lara, who is already under scrutiny for his campaign fundraising and perceived coziness with the insurance industry.

The Sacramento Bee claims the California’s top regulator of insurance companies sought campaign contributions from the industry and partied with one of its lobbyists after winning his election last year, according to records and social media posts obtained by The Sacramento Bee.

Three months after taking office, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara scheduled a March 12 lunch with insurance company executives with a pending matter before his department.

A memo to the commissioner said the meeting had a specific purpose: “Relationship building” for his re-election campaign.

Executives “will be joining you for a relationship-building lunch in support of your Ricardo Lara for Insurance Commissioner 2022 campaign,” fundraising consultant Dan Weitzman wrote in the memo.

Lara had pledged not to take money from the insurance industry as he ran for the post last year.

Weeks following the lunch, he broke his promise. In April, he accepted more than $50,000 in campaign donations from insurance representatives and their spouses. Some of the money came from out-of-state donors who have ties to one of the companies scheduled to be represented at the lunch.

Social media posts shared with The Bee show Lara also counts insurance lobbyists among his friends. The former state lawmaker partied with a Farmers Insurance lobbyist in London on New Year’s Eve just a week before his inauguration.

And the San Francisco Chronicle characterizes his apology about the contribution ethical problems and blame shifting on his staff as “underwhelming.”