Fung under fire for lobbying against flood bill

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung holds a press conference on city parking ticket scandal.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Republican candidate for governor Ken Block is blasting his opponent – Cranston Mayor Allan Fung – for lobbying against a bill that would have notified homeowners they weren’t covered for flood insurance.

Records show Fung registered to lobby at the State House on behalf of insurance giant MetLife Inc., where he worked as legal counsel until becoming mayor in 2008.

Fung signed on to oppose a 2005 bill by state Sen. David Bates, R-Barrington, that would have required insurance companies to notify homeowners that they were not covered for flood damage, records show.

The law applied to new insurance plans as well as for those renewing their policies.

“As a City Council member in Cranston when Allan [Fung] was also a lobbyist at the State House, he lobbied on behalf of the large insurance companies to defeat that bill,” Block said. “It proves to us beyond a shadow of a doubt that … he is not really watching out what is in the best interest of the taxpayers here.”

An amended version of the bill was ultimately passed that required only new policyholders to be notified about their flood insurance; those renewing their coverage were not included.

“Either you’re working for the taxpayer and making sure they get what they need or you’re working on behalf of special interests,” Block said.

Fung said Block’s claims are “empty rhetoric” that show he “doesn’t have a full understanding of what is going on in a particular industry.”

Fung said he was asked to oppose the bill because the insurance industry was concerned that the cost of the notification would be passed onto policyholders.

“I wasn’t opposed to the notice,” Fung said. “Our opposition was [against] the type of notice and the mandate.”

He added that “whether it’s in the insurance industry or any other industry, [they] should not have government telling them about how or what they need to do to operate, they need to have that flexibility.”

Fung said MetLife dropped its opposition to the amended bill.

Records with the secretary of state’s office show Fung stopped registering as a lobbyist in 2008 when he was elected mayor. He was compensated roughly $39 an hour in 2005, growing to $46 an hour in 2008, according to filings.

Tim White ( twhite@wpri.com ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter: @white_tim

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