Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is on the defense again. Earlier this year, accusations of racism, insensitive remarks and — sometimes — bullying by the commissioner were brought out by former employees.
They came up again over the weekend as the Northwest News Network and The Seattle Times both did stories and updates on the original complaints against Kreidler.
To date only one employee — or former employee — has filed a formal complaint.
Jon Noski is the department’s director of legislative affairs. He filed his complaint earlier this year and claims Kreidler bullied him on February 1st after he testified before a legislative committee questioning Kreidler’s decisions on credit scoring.
“The commissioner said that I am an impotent embarrassment who might need to be replaced because of my incompetence,” Noski said in his complaint. “The commissioner said I must enjoy getting pissed on and asked if he needed to wipe my ass.”
Noski — who is white — is not in a protected class of employee and, he says, to date, nothing has happened with his complaint. “There’s been no investigating, there’s been no follow-up,” he said.
In a news release, and in a posting on the Washington Department of Insurance website, Kreidler responded to the two stories and issued another apology.
“I ran for insurance commissioner to make a difference in peoples’ lives and to protect the most vulnerable in our society. Words matter and I know they can have a lasting impact on the people who hear them, regardless of my intent,” Kreidler wrote. “It pains me deeply to think that the careless words I have used in the past—even if infrequent—could have hurt someone.”
Kreidler then noted he’s been in public office for over 40 years and that during that time the norms of society have changed and noted he’s been a positive for change, and has defended consumers and people of all races and walks of life.
“I am sorry for any pain I have caused and for taking attention away from the accomplishments and efforts of the people I work with here at the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC),” he said. “Unfortunately, sometimes my language has not kept up with those changes,” he wrote. “My actions and those of the OIC better reflect how I truly feel about the need to protect those who continue to face disrespect and outright discrimination from much of our society simply because of who they are.”
Kreidler called the societal changes a good thing and said, we, human beings, need to evolve and get better. He then went on to brag about his accomplishments in the area of protecting transgenders and others denied healthcare benefits and says he’s been a national leader in addressing those issues.
“And since I took office more than 20 years ago, I’ve believed that insurers’ use of credit scores is a modern form of redlining and I’ve worked to end this practice, which simply perpetuates and institutionalizes the effects of past discrimination,” the commissioner said.
In the end, Kreidler — again — promised to do better.
“I will be more careful with the words I use and will also continue to push the policies that lift people up and protect them against any injustices that remain in our society,” he said. “I regret that public discussions of my word choices might leave any uncertainty about where I stand when it comes to protecting those who have historically been told they did not have a genuine place in our society.”
If you’re curious about why the commissioner responded to those stories, we have provided links to them. You can find them below.
Northwest News Network: https://www.nwnewsnetwork.org/2022-04-18/employees-say-state-insurance-chief-used-racist-slurs-mistreated-staff
The Seattle Times:
Source link: Washington Department of Insurance — https://bit.ly/3L4j8Ze
Washington’s Kreidler on the Defense — Again
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