Governor Inslee calls on insurance commissioner Kreidler to resign

(The Center Square) – Washington Governor Jay Inslee has called on Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler to step down.

“Following Commissioner Kreidler’s admission that he treated staff poorly and used inappropriate language in the office, he is committed to learning and improving,” Inslee said in a statement to The Center Square on Friday. “The events of the past few months demonstrate that he is incapable of fulfilling his leadership responsibility. Commissioner Kreidler assured his employees and the public that he would work to improve his relationship with staff, but instead fired an employee who spoke out about the issues. All staff deserve respect, regardless of status at will. Therefore, I think we need different leadership in this position and I think he should step down.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler released the following statement in response to Governor Jay Inslee’s call for his resignation:

“Governor. Inslee and I have worked and served together for many years and I generally respect both his perspective and his efforts to advance the causes that are close to our hearts. However, I disagree with his conclusion regarding my ability to continue my duties as an elected independent.

“I cannot comment on the specifics of an individual personal matter, but the conclusion that the departure of an important and valued employee was due to him filing a complaint against me is not true and does not reflect not the full context of the story.

“I take full responsibility for my past behavior and acknowledge the impact it has had on those around me and the people I serve. I am committed to doing better and to living up to that commitment. At the same time, I intend to continue to serve alongside the dedicated people of our agency and work on important consumer protection issues ahead.

Inslee joins a growing chorus of voices from both sides expressing concern over Kreidler’s actions and, in many cases, calling for Kreidler’s resignation.

The list so far includes Senate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Olympia and Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, D-Spokane, as well as State House Speaker Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, and more.

The staffer who was fired was legislative liaison Jon Noski. He was the cause of one of two controversies Kreidler, 78, has overcome so far this year, filing a lawsuit whistleblower complaint with the Office of the Insurance Commissioner on February 4 alleging “emotional outbursts toward me and other staff for trivial reasons that are often misunderstandings of reality.”

This volatile trend was corroborated in press accounts by several current and former OCI employees, speaking mostly off the record, claiming that Kreidler was inclined to disparage the explosions.

Noski’s complaint, obtained through a public information request from the NW News Network, anticipated that coming forward “could easily jeopardize my career in public service.” He claimed to do so for a greater purpose because “knowing what I know of the commissioner’s abusive behaviors, doing nothing would not be right and would make me guilty if someone were to do harm because of his inappropriate behavior” .

The commissioner was hit by a second wave of scandals in April when current and former associates alleged he made racially insensitive and anti-trans remarks.

During the previous two controversies, the governor argued that Kreidler had work to do to regain the trust of his staff and the public, but that he should be allowed to do so. The dismissal of the whistleblower who started it all seems to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The OCI argues that it was Kreidler’s right to fire Noski.

“The agency has made the decision to exercise its discretion to terminate Jon’s exempt appointment as OIC Legislative Liaison,” a department spokeswoman said in a statement to The Center Square on Friday. . “This position is an at-will and exempt appointment which the agency may terminate at any time. The decision to end his appointment was made following ongoing discussions with Jon about his role in the office as the agency moves forward. Jon has been a valued member of our legislative and policy team and everyone wishes him well in his future endeavours.

As for calls for resignation: “The commissioner has no intention of resigning.”

Inslee weighing in on Kreidler’s departure is fueling speculation, however.

In a phone conversation, Senator Braun told The Center Square that Kreidler is a man who “thumbed everyone’s nose at Olympia” and that he was “absolutely sure he wouldn’t quit. ” when he called him on Thursday. partly because Braun asked for it.

But now, he said, “I think there’s a chance” the insurance commissioner will wrap it up sooner.

“As the pressure mounts, I think ultimately he can,” Braun said.

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