Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (the Big I) CEO Bob Rusbult has been terminated. He was going to retire in the next couple of months but was asked to step down early because of remarks he made at the organization’s annual conference in April.
The incident began with an interview session Rusbuldt did with Fox News host Jesse Watters. He’s known for making remarks on air that aren’t often considered politically correct. In the interview, Watters apparently questioned the gender of Vice President Kamala Harris.
Watters comments — and those of Rusbuldt — were so offensive that many people got up and left the room. What Rusbuldt said has not been reported but they were apparently offensive enough that the board asked him to retire early.
“It is disappointing to see Mr. Rusbuldt end his 37-year career at the Big ‘I’” in this way,” the association said in a news release. “Much more distressing, however, is the hurt and discomfort so many of our members, partners and staff experienced as a result of his remarks.”
The board said the Big I in no way condones or agrees with any of Rusbuldt’s statements but does take full responsibility for them.
“We deeply regret that this incident occurred at an event that is intended to celebrate our organization and its membership,” the board said it its statement. “We have been working with our DEI team internally and externally since the event on ways to foster a more inclusive and respectful culture and ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.”
Rusbuldt also apologized.
As for Watters — his PR team says he doesn’t have any recollection of what was said and “the unscripted Q&A participated in was well received with executives thanking him profusely afterward, enthusiastically taking photos, and presenting him with an award.”
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