State Sen. Joe Dunn, a lawyer, named CEO of California Medical Association

State Sen. Joe Dunn, a litigator who headed the Senate’s high-profile probe into market manipulation during California’s electricity crisis, has been named the new chief executive officer of the California Medical Association.

Dunn, D-Garden Grove, replaces Dr. Jack Lewin, who will become the CEO of the American College of Cardiology in Washington. D.C. Dunn, a prominent lawyer whose Newport Beach firm played a major role in the 1998 national tobacco litigation settlement, “is the right leader at the right time for the CMA,” said CMA President Michael Sexton. Sexton said Dunn was picked following a nationwide search. Dunn’s appointment was announced during the CMA’s House of Delegates meeting in Sacramento.

“He will greatly enhance our ability to advocate for quality care for our patients, protect the profession, improve the public health, expand access to care for all, and maintain practice viability for the physicians of California,” Sexton said.

Dunn was first elected to the state Senate in 1998 in a major upset, when he defeated GOP leader Robb Hurt. Dunn was reelected in 2002, and is termed out. He considered running state attorney general, but abandoned that plan after former Gov. Jerry Brown got into the race. Dunn did run in this year’s Democratic primary for controller against John Chaing, but was defeated.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead California’s premiere advocacy organization on behalf of physicians and their patients,” said Dunn.

As an attorney, he was a key participant in the 1998 national tobacco litigation settlement that led to $200 billion in payments from cigarette companies to 46 states, with more then $25 billion coming to the State of California and its municipalities for health care and other purposes.

The California Medical Association, which was founded in Sacramento in 1856, is currently holding its annual House of Delegates meeting in Sacramento. The policy-making session this year will include a celebration on Saturday of its sesquicentennial.

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